While message boards may currently be complaining about the number of remakes being released, several make a great case for this trend to continue. Classics such as Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee has been given new life on PS4 and now Double Fine has attempted to breathe new life into the LucasArts’ classic Grim Fandango on the PS Vita. Have they succeeded in bringing this classic adventure game to consoles or should this game have stayed dead?
Grim Fandango’s story stars Manny Calavera, an undead travel agent who helps the recently deceased reach their final destination in the Land of the Dead. Manny quickly uncovers a conspiracy and then his daily routine is completely upended. Players then must help guide Manny through solving puzzles to get out of some precarious (and hilarious) situations.
When Grim Fandango was released in 1998 it received rave reviews since it is undeniably a classic of the adventure game genre. It was even seen as a bit of a swan song to the genre as it would fade into obscurity until developer Telltale Games would help resuscitate the struggling genre. Since its resurgence, we’ve seen several high profile adventure games based off popular series and games have been crowdfunded by passionate fans. The good news is, is that Grim Fandango is still a classic and one of the best Adventure games ever made.
That doesn’t mean that the Tim Schafer developed title doesn’t show its age in spots though because it definitely does. One area where the game shows its age is in its control scheme. The original PC release (reviewed here) used tank controls similar to Resident Evil and while these are still an optional control scheme, a new “modern” control scheme has been added as well. This modern control scheme controls as you would expect a game to control, giving Manny more mobility. This isn’t a perfect solution though, as there are still issues controlling the undead agent as the game can confuse inputs when the camera changes views. While not game breaking by any means, it is just a little too difficult getting from Point A to Point B at times.
Control issues aside, everything else about Grim Fandango absolutely holds up. The game’s dialogue is still fantastically voiced with some of the funniest scenes in gaming found within them. A lot of video games try to be funny, but very few can reach the level of hilarity that Grim Fandango has. Memorable characters and scenes are abundant, so you’ll be laughing through your entire playthrough.
One area where the game does struggle a bit is that its puzzle solutions can get pretty obscure. Sometimes the answer won’t be the most obvious one, rather the funniest one. This trial and error approach to puzzle solving may put off some players, but they’ll get to see some extra dialogue for their troubles. Thankfully, due to the game being out for so long, there are plenty of guides out there to help players out if they get stuck. An in-game hint, similar to what the Monkey Island remake included, could have made this a nicer package overall.
Visually, the updated game doesn’t look like a brand new release, but it does look noticeably better than a game from 1998. Players are even given the option to switch between old and new 3D models so they can see the changes for themselves at any point in the game. This is an impressive feature and one that allows for old-school fans to authentically play the classic they fell in love with and for new fans to enjoy a game that looks appropriate in the current gaming landscape.
Other changes in the package allow the game to be played in a 16:9 ratio instead of its original 4:3 layout. Throw in a soundtrack recorded with the Melbourne Symphony and fans are really in for a treat. The coolest addition though is that developer commentary has been added to the game so players can hear a behind-the-scenes look at the game by listening to Tim Schafer and other developers talk about their experience creating the game.
Grim Fandango Remastered is an example of a remake done right. The gameplay has been improved thanks to the modern control scheme (although it is one that still has a few issues) and the game looks better than it ever has before. The fact that this adventure game classic can now be played by more players is amazing and hopefully the re-release has garnered the series quite a few new fans. Grim Fandango Remastered needs to be played if you love stories in games and want to see the best that the adventure genre has to offer.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation Vita code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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