Grim Fandango was released back in 1998 and was a part of LucaArts’ series of excellent adventure games. The game became an instant classic, although it was only available for the PC at the time. Not to mention the game became somewhat forgotten as the years went by.
Thankfully Grim Fandango’s creator, Tim Schafer, decided it was time to reintroduce the game to a newer audience. Grim Fandango Remastered is the result giving us more special features and revamped graphics. The game is also on more platforms as it’s now available for the PC, Mac, Linux, PS4 and PS Vita.
I reviewed Grim Fandango Remastered on both the PS4 and PS Vita. I never played the original game, nor did I have much knowledge of it. Once I started to play it though, I immediately became engrossed as the story and characters suck you in from the get-go.
The charm with Grim Fandango Remastered lies within its story, gameplay and characters. These days you get games full of the same looking protagonists shooting their way to save humanity with a predictable and boring plot. Grim Fandango Remastered is anything but predictable as you are playing as a Grim Reaper living in the Land of the Dead.
In this game, the character of Manny Calevera is just one of many Grim Reapers in the Land of the Dead. Calevera’s job is to reap the souls of the dead and guide them towards a happy afterlife in the Ninth Underworld. Souls that aren’t pure have to travel to the Ninth Underworld by themselves on foot.
Calevera’s job is in jeopardy however because he’s never able to get pure souls as clients. With his job on the line, Calevera decides to “steal” a client from his work rival named Domino. The plan doesn’t go well as his client named “Meche” goes missing. He then realizes his work was a scam as Domino always got hand-picked with the good clients. This makes him decide to go on a four year journey to find Meche and guide her to the Ninth Underworld. Along the way, he also finds out more about the shady practices of his former workplace.
Grim Fandango Remastered’s plot has many twists and turns as the game is broken up into four different chapters. Each chapter represents a different year in Calevera’s life. On his long journey, he befriends a demon named Glottis. Glottis is one of the best characters in the game as his chubby orange build and happy personality makes him very likeable. The two of them are an unlikely pair, but they will grow to become friends as the game progresses.
One of the things that make Grim Fandango’s characters stand out is with the excellent voice acting. Most of the characters are voiced by Latino actors, thus giving the game a flavour not often seen with recent games. It’s refreshing to hear a diverse voice cast as most modern games these days are just dominated by Troy Baker...
The gameplay in Grim Fandango Remastered is also unique. It’s a mix of a point and click adventure, as well as a puzzle solving game. However, you are free to control Manny Calevera too as he can walk freely around the gorgeous looking pre-rendered backgrounds. There are a lot of NPCs around and you will need to talk with all of them in order to progress. The NPCs give you clues on what to do next, and may also give you an important item to collect as well.
One of the main issues I had with Grim Fandango is the lack of direction. This game doesn’t tell you what you need to do next, as it expects you to find out clues on your own. This results in you backtracking a lot of times and also exploring every inch of the levels. It doesn’t help that the game has a fixed camera and you may miss a door that may be hiding in the corner of the screen. It’s best to play this game with a walkthrough as it can be a frustrating experience when you get stuck on a certain puzzle.
Grim Fandango Remastered includes a ton of new features that weren’t in the original PC release. The best new feature is the “Director’s Commentary”. At certain points in the game, you can press the L1 button to hear Tom Schafer and the other developers reminiscence on their time working on the game. It’s worth listening to as you get to hear about the stories behind the creation of certain characters, levels and more.
Another new feature is the Remastered graphics that change the look of the in-game character models. Graphically, Grim Fandango Remastered doesn’t look that much different from the original PC version. The pre-rendered backgrounds have been untouched so the only graphical differences are only on the characters themselves. I actually think the original graphics look better as they appear more bright and colourful. The Remastered graphics look dark and dull in comparison. Thankfully, you can alter the look between the two versions by simply pressing the R3 button.
The biggest improvement in Grim Fandango Remastered is with the controls. The old version had something called “Tank Controls” which made the game hard to play. With “Tank Controls”, you have to rotate the character around first before you can start moving in a forwards direction. You can still opt to play like this in the options menu, but the newer control scheme is more comfortable and less annoying.
Apart from the minimal change in graphics, Grim Fandango Remastered is a masterpiece that more people should play. It is unlike any other game released these days as it is part of a genre that has sadly died over the years. Hopefully Grim Fandango Remastered brings in lots of new players so more games like this can be made in the near future.