Grim Fandango

Every once in a while a game comes along with so many great pieces that you just know it’s going to be a smashing success – and then it proceeds to flop like that kid in your hometown community swimming pool. These games become cult classics. So many people know their names, but how many people actually played it? Not that many. Grim Fandango is a classic example: LucasArts was on a roll with their point & click adventures in the 90s; It was a brain-child of Tim Schafer (@TimOfLegend @DoubleFine); Grim Fandango had story, graphics, voice acting; Haven’t even mentioned the critical acclaim.  It was sure to be a slam dunk! Unfortunately, sales proved otherwise. 

Grim Fandango’s stage is set in a land that’s part film noir, part Aztec legend of the afterlife. You play the role of Manny Calavera, travel agent for the deceased. It’s your job to sell the dead an attractive travel package to get them to their final destination. The most virtuous get a golden ticket to take the short ride on a fast train, while the others… well, it might take 40 years and a journey fret with peril, but there’s always walking. 

The adventure revolves around your attempts to track down Meche, one of the newly dead who gets picked up by your office. A lady who’s life was so clean, she should’ve applied for being a saint. Not just that, but she’s attractive too! Surely, she would be a shoe-in for a golden ticket… only, you can’t find her information on your computer. Embarrassed, she sneaks away to begin her long walk, leading to you following on her heels the whole way. 

The voice acting is delightfully well done, and riddled with quirky quips that are bound to bring a chuckle. Often times these interactions aren’t required to move the story along so you may miss them if you’re not on the look out. 

The remastered edition features two types of controls, either “tank controls” where pressing up moves Manny forward, left and right makes him rotate like a first year ballerina, and pressing down makes him back up. (Hint: playing the whole way through using these controls will fetch a pretty trophy on the PS4) or a standard mode for the kids where you just press the direction you want to move. 

The puzzles are entertaining, but mind numbingly difficult at times, as there’s sometimes little to no instruction, and you’ll have to re-do things repetitiously in hopes of finding the right combination. A couple of the maps were more like mazes, as well. It’s difficult to find where you need to go because the path isn’t so clear (or is just plain hidden) I found myself referencing a walk thru at times so that I could enjoy the story. 

As mentioned, the PS4 comes loaded with opportunities for trophies which only go to further the point that this game is really difficult – only 9% reached chapter 2? – but for the completionists will give plenty of reason for a second playthrough. 

Overall I’d highly recommend downloading and giving it a shot. With the resurgence of point & click games hitting it’s full stride, it’s a great idea to go back and play one of the classics and as long as you don’t give up early, Grim Fandango is sure to not disappoint. 

Bigfoot has been playing video games for as long as he can remember, he was weaned straight from the bottle on to a Commodore 64 and hasn't looked back since. He enjoys sampling beer and hanging out with his family. A couple of his all-time favorite games are Earthbound (SNES) and Fallout 2 (PC).

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