Grim Fandango Remastered sees the return of a classic LucasArts PC game that has been lost to time. Lineage aside, the games takes place in the realm of the dead where everyone is trying to work off their debt in order to pass on. Manny Calavera is a simple travel agent who winds up with the wrong client resulting in a crazy adventure pursued by assassins, freedom fighters, fiery beavers, and more. The story may not be harrowing, but the world and characters are astounding. The mixture between noir and Mexican culture result in twisted, hilarious scenarios voiced by an excellent cast. While technically dated, it still feels fresh.
The part that may not hold up as well, especially to new gamers, are its gameplay mechanics. Controlling Manny and searching through the world is easy, but the puzzles are not. This is a typical adventure game from the 90s where the solutions are obscure, resulting in frustrating moments and wasted time. It’s a trial and error system that is based more on dumb luck rather than wits. A hint system would have benefited this remake, but there is some novelty in upholding the original vision. Thankfully there are still tons of guides out there.
Players can experience the game in its original 4:3 ratio, or turn the graphics up to the HD version with widescreen. Either way the game doesn’t look too different. Models are gorgeous either way, but the CG backdrops look janky especially in the HD version. It’s jarring, but not terrible. The jazz music and, again, the voice cast blow some recent games out of the water. There’s other extras packed in as well like the director’s commentary and a cutscene and art gallery. For the most part it runs great on the Vita, but it did crash once and there were a few odd glitches that didn’t go away even after reloading the game.
Grim Fandango Remastered lived up to the hype. It’s funny and cleverly twisted with a unique vision rarely seen today. However, this writer may be an adventure noob, but it’s not fun to play when the puzzles frequently borderline on impossible. Still, the story alone is worth recommending. Just grab a guide for those tricky parts and ignore the shame.
Score: 3/5 Stars
Special Notes: The publisher provided a review code for this game. This article was originally published on January 27, 2015 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.