Pesky launch bugs aside, Grim Fandango Remastered is a great little package for fans of the original
It’s difficult to argue with the fact that Grim Fandango is a truly amazing adventure game. It is considered one of the last real ‘classics’ of a bygone era, where pointing and clicking at stuff to solve superbly designed puzzles was a rather common thing to do in a video game, and Threepwood and Calavera were household names. In Grim’s particular case, there was enough path-breaking craziness (3D models and environment, no pointing and clicking), film-noire-meets-Mexican-folklore inspired atmosphere, wonderful music score, superbly written characters and timeless art style to make the game truly legendary.
The legend of Grim Fandango grew as the game became hard to obtain, and even harder to run on new hardware. While it was kept alive by a community of dedicated modders, Grim Fandango appeared to have been a victim of circumstance—one involving the demise of LucasArts and several great works of art. Fortunately, we’ve got a reissue from the anvil of the creators, Tim Schafer and Double Fine Productions themselves.
The test of time
Let’s try and answer the obvious question first. Does Grim Fandango hold up? Believe it or not, it does. Thanks to the absurd, blocky character design and visual aesthetic, Grim Fandango will not look out of place on your PC monitor or living room television. The writing is still consistently funny (assuming you like Schafer’s particular brand of humour), and the puzzles are a wonderful combination of the clever and the ridiculous. What’s more, the remaster bestows upon it the magic of modern dynamic lighting, the blessing of higher resolution character textures and the fidelity of a re-recorded original score by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, in addition to a commentary track from the original developers (over two hours of it, no less). In theory, the content on offer here makes spending a measly $15 (about `900) a no-brainer.
Just keep in mind, however, that there’s no rehash or rethinking of the mechanics here, making Grim Fandango Remastered a ‘classic’ in every sense. This plays to the game’s advantage and disadvantage. The clunky inventory system and ‘tank’ keyboard controls remain, along with the game’s original aspect ratio—choosing the widescreen option merely stretches the image to fit your screen. Point-and-click controls are now natively supported (and honestly feel way more intuitive than the keyboard controls ever did, innovative as they were for the time). Touch controls are also present in the PlayStation Vita version of the game. It’s difficult to complain about the lack of improvements in all that’s been mentioned prior simply because the gameplay experience remains unaltered by them—Grim Fandango works just fine with these classic ‘annoyances’.
I do have a few bones to pick, however. For instance, autosaving wasn’t par for 1998, but I can’t fathom why it cannot be implemented in 2015 for a vastly improved player experience. Playing the ‘classic’ card here would not be unreasonable if that was a standalone complaint, but the game is buggy—really buggy. Among other things, I encountered an issue quite early in the game where attempting to access a particular (puzzle-solving-dependent) item in my inventory would simply freeze the game, rendering progress impossible. After having gone through over an hour of solving puzzles from memory, not saving the game and encountering this game breaking bug was disappointing to say the least. A patch did arrive two days later, but this seems like a simple enough problem to solve with sufficient game testing before launch.
Not so much for newer players as it is for fans of the original, Grim Fandango Remastered brings with it the best kind of baggage—one of nostalgia. There’s a lot of effort that’s been put into creating, not re-creating a timeless experience, but not as much into bug testing. It leaves a little bit of a sour taste in the mouth, but Grim Fandango isn’t a game you’ll want to play in a hurry, unless you’re writing a review.
Be the first to leave a review.