Old adventure games are like wine. They age incredibly well and at times even become better with said age. That effect becomes even stronger as it’s boosted by our ever changing perspective over the years. No matter how old you were when you played the original Grim Fandango, you are surely looking back with fondness on the experience.
Whether it was young age or the effect of video games in a world where you didn’t get hundreds of releases every single year, LucasArts made a memorable game. Most likely you wouldn’t mind replaying it right now, even if it’s 17 years too old on graphics – and that is probably because of the story that remains priceless even in 2015.
Apparently you are not the only one who feels that way as Tim Schafer, working under the label of Double Fine Productions, has taken it upon himself earlier in 2014 to bring Grim Fandango back from the dead (incidental pun) and make it available again to everyone who hasn’t been able to get it working on new machinery and software.
The Remastered version brings the exact same story and general visuals, but underneath the appearance, a lot of things have changed. Background images have been re-rendered to higher resolutions, textures and lighting have received a considerable buff in more than a few scenarios. And yet, the game still feels like it’s the same one we played back in 1998 – except we can actually run it this time, and scenes here and there simply feel… artsy.
There’s something about the dynamic real-time lighting on Manny’s model that at times may feel a bit unnatural but if you manage to detach yourself from the original experience, you’ll come to love and appreciate the work that has been put in the remastered version. In order to ensure your enjoyment of the game, there is even an option that allows you to get rid of the real time lighting, just in case you want to maintain your experience pristine. Same goes for the resolution of the remastered game – while the native variant is 4:3, there is still an option for the 16:9 ratio. So you can either opt for the unadulterated 1998 Grim Fandango experience, or the new-gen feeling yet still loyal remaster of the game. The controls seem to be able to give you a better experience as well, as they have been switched from the tank-like version from the original to a simpler point and click style interface that has been adopted by so many adventure and/or puzzle games out there.
The story is the same as you left it. Manny Cavalera, the protagonist of the game, is going through hard times in the Land of the Dead as circumstances force him to work as a travel agent in the Department of Death, ensuring seif travel to paradise to worthy clients. His work life isn’t going too well as his boss threatens to fire him if he doesn’t bring in better clients. The plot naturally starts as enter female character makes an appearance and Manny finds out about some shady agendas of his fellow coworkers. The game takes place over the length of 4 years and follows the story one day in every of the 4 years – the 2nd of November in each act. The story is heavily complimented by wonderfully build characters, designed and inspired by Mexican calaca figures used in celebrating the Day of the Dead. Despite this influence, the game seems to have a very strong amount of film noir elements in it and the soundtrack of the original has been re-recorded with the assistance of the Melbourne Symphony – mixing a good amount of jazz with Latin tunes.
By all means, to long time Grim Fandango fans, the remastered version is an absolute, definite treat. To anyone who has never heard of the game before and only accidentally came across it here or in the Steam Store, your reaction to it is debatable. If realistic graphics is what interests you most in a game, Grim Fandango Remastered’s eccentric models might not be the thing for you.
The plot, story and depth of characters is something that you sincerely cannot find in nowadays’ games anymore so that point is an absolute plus. In terms of adventure point-and-click games, this one seems to be relatively difficult when it comes to its puzzles, not offering a hint system to help you out of your pickles. Regardless, it’s definitely worth a shot. And that shot is a mere $20 on the Steam Store since the 26th of January.