Grim Fandango Remastered is primarily an adventure game, utilising point and click controls. You play as Manny Calvavera, a dead man who follows Mercedes ‘Meche’ Colomar through the land of the dead after he sends her on a journey she is not meant to be on.
The game is essentially one big puzzle, which you solve using your wits and objects you stow in your inventory. Your progression in the game purely depends on your ability to solve the puzzles and how well you can plan ahead. Whilst you cannot die or get in to a situation where you can’t complete the game, you can’t progress until you complete the puzzles on the level. Let me tell you, these puzzles are not easy, you will find yourself scratching your head frequently.
Manny’s adventure happens annually over four years, on the Mexican Day of the Dead and is driven by your interactions and conversations with other characters. Most of the trophies collected in this game are through exhausting your conversation options with other characters. Every conversation has its own little spark, whether it is humour or sarcasm, all the conversations are interesting and hold information that can help you progress through the game.
The difference between the original and the remastered is very noticeable, especially when you can switch between them with just a click of a button. The game was originally released in 1998 and it is cool to see the comparison between them. The colours are not as bold and the edges are not as sharp, but the game still pulls off its original noir look and feel. A nod to the noir is that many of the characters in the game are smokers, with Manny smoking as his idle animation. The manual of the game itself told players to consider that all the smokers in the game are dead.
The game was originally developed by LucasArts, but was remastered by Double Fine productions. Double Fine did a great job with the remaster, as they did not just improve the graphics, they also re-recorded the audio, including the orchestral soundtrack. The voice acting is an aspect you can’t help but admire; their emotions are easily identifiable through their voices. Also, to help with Spanish slang, even though they’re speaking English, they hired many Latino actors. Just hints of Spanish, through the accents and the slang, really engages you more with the game, so it is a nice touch.
A ‘Directors Cut’ is also included in the remaster, which is just a toggle in the main menu away, with developer commentary included. It is always cool, as a fan of video games, to listen about the process of games being developed and how the developers came up with ideas that they included in the game.
What is not included in the remaster, however, is an autosave feature. You still have to go to the main menu to save the game. Given the fact that this is the year 2016, saving has become an afterthought to many gamers. I think they did not include autosave to make the game feel more like its original, which is a nice touch if you are in to that sort of thing, but I have personally got to say I am not.
Grim Fandango is an enjoyable game and whilst it was considered a commercial failure, it is still frequently included on ‘greatest games of all time’ lists. The theme of the game just feels so right with the style of scenes and the characters. You are taken on a whirlwind adventure that constantly has you saying ‘Oh!’ in wonder as you piece everything together.
Whilst there are qualms you may have with the game, such as camera angles and the occasional button control confusion, you cannot deny that this game is outstanding, both in its genre and in video gaming overall. Everything just comes together and works, and you ride the wave with Manny, finding yourself rooting for him from the get go. When you complete a puzzle, you feel such a sense of achievement, you keep playing to feel it again. You need this game in your library and, with this remaster, there has never been a better time.
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