Dead and loving it.
I love adventure games. Whether it’s Day of the Tentacle or The Secret of Monkey Island (which are also LucasArts games!), I love a game with a strong narrative and clever puzzles. I’m happy to say that Grim Fandango Remastered, Double Fine’s port of the original 1998 title, has both in spades.
The story of Grim Fandango goes like this (without giving too much of it away): Manny Calavera is a travel agent for the Department of Death and wants to find better clients. He happens to find one, and ends up getting himself into a world of trouble that spans four years of perilous adventure. Manny travels through many places and locales in the underworld in order to search for and then send this client to where they rightfully belong.
One of the strongest qualities Grim Fandango possesses, besides the fun characters and clever script, is the atmosphere. It is set in many brooding locales, filled with a great noir-like setting that’s easy to get lost in. The music, an eclectic mix of melodies and sounds from all over the world, is also a huge positive. Traveling around the underworld with Manny, Glottis, and other characters constantly felt both cool and funny—something that really isn’t all that easy to pull off.
Grim Fandango doesn’t come without its problems, however. For one, the camera feels extremely dated. This was LucasArts’ first foray into a 3D adventure game, and it’s clear they didn’t get everything down pat. There were just too many times where I wanted to get to one area, but alternated between two different sections of a map because I had trouble figuring out how to get there. It’s manageable, but I wish things were made just a little bit easier to navigate in some areas.
Also, while I love Grim Fandango’s puzzles, sometimes I felt just too lost trying to figure out where I needed to go or what I needed to do in order to solve a puzzle. Obviously, the goal is for you to figure out what you need to do in order to advance, and it’s probably more fun discovering the way on your own, but a hint system would have at least given me a nudge in the right direction. It’s a nice quality of life feature that would have made things just a bit more accessible.
Despite the issues I have with it, Grim Fandango is a fantastic adventure game full of the snappy, witty charm that LucasArts is known for, complete with a stellar atmosphere and great cast of characters. It could have used a couple of enhancements, but Grim Fandango Remastered is a fine port of Manny Calavera’s escapades.