Lucas Arts’ Grim Fandango is one of the most fondly remembered adventure games ever released. Coming at the end of the point-and-click era, many consider it the pinnacle, the culmination of Tim Schafer and the rest of Lucas Arts’ adventure game-creating prowess. There’s no point really arguing that; it’s fact. Along with the likes of Day of the Tentacle and The Secret of Monkey Island, it’s one of those games that’s endured in the hearts of those who’ve played it.

Grim Fandango Remastered (2)

It’s for good reason. The four-year tale of Manny Calavera, a grim reaper and travel agent for the dead holds up today as well as it did then, in part largely thanks to the chosen, Southern American art-deco aesthetic and the love-letter to film noir. They are as striking now as they were, punctuated so perfectly by deft storytelling and an irreverent, warm humour.

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In Grim Fandango’s world, when a person dies they become a skinless barely held-together assemblage of bones, a skeleton in the Land of the Dead, from where you’d need to embark on a four-year journey to the Ninth Underworld. If you were a good person – some sort of saintly human – in your living hours, you could skip the whole thing and instead travel there in style and luxury; by car, by boat or using the ultra-fancy Number 9 train reserved for the most virtuous of the former living. It’s Manny’s job to sell these packages to clients – but he’s always stuck with former reprobates.

There’s something wrong in the Land of the Dead though, some sort of foul conspiracy; somebody appears to be stealing all of the tickets to the Number Nine, forcing the righteous to walk – and when it happens to one of Manny’s upstanding clients, it all begins to get a little interesting.

Grim Fandango Remastered (9)

Playing through Grim Fandango now, years later is still a joy – but it has highlighted how spoiled modern gamers are. Some of the solutions to the puzzles – as was often the case with 90’s adventure games – are downright obtuse, opaque and bordering on asinine. And I love it. I love the fact that its puzzles make little to no logical sense, and there’s nothing remotely resembling the sort of “follow the trail” hand-holding so ubiquitous in modern games.

It also, despite being a remaster, doesn’t really look like a modern game. It’s not the most technically accomplished of remasters. This isn’t one of those shiny remakes like we saw happen with The Secret of Monkey Island and its special edition, or the New ‘N Tasty version of Abe’s Oddysee. There are a few newer, higher res characters models and a new real-time lighting engine to replace the previously baked in lighting, but the backgrounds have simply been upscaled. To be honest I’m okay with that. Players have the option of running in the original 4:3 resolution, 4:3 with a vaguely South American border or in a stretched, 16:9 perspective that makes our skinny skeleton friend look a little more big-boned.

Grim Fandango Remastered (5)

The biggest change comes from the abolition of the game’s maligned tank-controls – which made some sense back then because of the regular changes in camera angles. There are now camera-relative controls and on the PC and Vita versions – the option to play it as a point-and-click adventure. Perhaps my favourite feature of this remaster though, is the cross-buy, cross-save functionality for those entrenched in Sony’s gaming ecosystem.

I started the game on the PlayStation 4, saved it there, and carried on right where I left off on the PlayStation Vita, and indeed the other way around when mood suited, or Eskom’s incompetence necessitated.

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My very favourite part of the remaster though is the optional Director’s Commentary. It’s enabled in the options, and is something I’d very much recommend players turn on. When prompted, players are able to hear commentary from the game’s creators overlaid. It’s unobtrusive, enlightening and often quite funny, providing welcome insight in to the game’s creative process.

The remaster is not without issue. While the lighting system, the point-and-click and camera-relative controls, and the freshly recorded music are new, so are some of the infrequent bugs and performance issues that have crept in. They’re minor annoyances and do nothing to detract from a great experience. Even in a vacuum, stripped of the nostalgia, Grim Fandango is wonderful.

Last Updated: January 28, 2015

Grim Fandango Remastered
Whether you’re a long-time fan wanting to revel in the nostalgia, or somebody who missed it the first time round – pick up Grim Fandango and delight in this prime example of adventure games at their peak. Its got a lot of heart – and it deserves yours.
8.5
Grim Fandango Remastered was reviewed on PlayStation 4
80 / 100

41 Comments

  1. Raptor Rants A Lot:Original #7

    January 28, 2015 at 15:38

    Oh man. The feels!!!

    Reply

    • Shas 'O Norm

      January 28, 2015 at 15:52

      I know!

      Reply

  2. oVg elfroot slayer

    January 28, 2015 at 15:41

    Who said the VITA has no games?

    Reply

  3. Shas 'O Norm

    January 28, 2015 at 15:48

    This game hits me right in the feels.
    Love it.

    Reply

  4. Fnuik

    January 28, 2015 at 15:49

    Started remote download when I got to work this morning, tonight I return to the world of the living dead

    Reply

  5. L337J1MB0B

    January 28, 2015 at 15:49

    As much as I did enjoy Grim Fandango back in it’s day, it’s certainly no The Dig.

    Reply

    • Brady miaau

      January 28, 2015 at 16:02

      What? The Dig? Should I know this?

      Reply

      • L337J1MB0B

        January 28, 2015 at 16:04

        Are you taking the piss bro? If you haven’t played The Dig then you have not lived.. you are dead to me.

        Reply

        • Brady miaau

          January 28, 2015 at 16:05

          Ok, so I am dead to you. Your loss. 🙂

          but please, save me the google search?

          Reply

          • L337J1MB0B

            January 28, 2015 at 16:07

            It’s another old Lucas Arts adventure title, an earlier one. You could probably dig up (see what I did there) an old Dos version of it somewhere on the net if you’re genuinely interested… it’s awesome though.

          • Spaffy

            January 28, 2015 at 16:08

            It’s on Steam

          • Brady miaau

            January 28, 2015 at 16:11

            I see. So sort of like Loom. (careful now, you may be dead to me too! ) 🙂

          • L337J1MB0B

            January 28, 2015 at 16:12

            Bitch please, of course I played Loom.

          • Brady miaau

            January 28, 2015 at 16:13

            Wait, so from Bro to Bitch? That sort of escalated pretty quickly

          • Spaffy

            January 28, 2015 at 16:13

            Loom and PoP were my first games. Awesome

          • Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

            January 28, 2015 at 16:11

            It is indeed a good game, but more Myst than Schafer-esque. Definite;y worth playing, but I love the warm humour of games like DoTT, Monkey Island, Full Throttle etc.

          • Brady miaau

            January 28, 2015 at 16:11

            More Myst like is not for me then. Never warmed to that many puzzles

    • Viking Of Science

      January 28, 2015 at 16:16

      aah, The Dig… I remember it fondly… The puzzles made more sense the further you got… Basically the game kept teaching you about the world and it’s language and logic as you progressed… But I don’t have to tell you that…

      Reply

  6. Jenifarblawatson

    January 28, 2015 at 15:51

  7. Hammersteyn

    January 28, 2015 at 15:52

    SOLD!

    Reply

  8. Quo Vadis?

    January 28, 2015 at 15:57

    Oh man! I have to get this, never played it back then.

    Reply

    • Brady miaau

      January 28, 2015 at 16:02

      get it.

      Reply

    • WitWolfy

      January 29, 2015 at 12:05

      Its good, but basically the only thing the recreated is the characters models. The backgrounds are still the same as the original game… Press R3 and see.

      Reply

  9. Corrie

    January 28, 2015 at 15:59

    Shall be picking this up on Steam since it’s at a decent price, finally will be able to play this game,always wanted to but never had access to any means of getting it until now

    Reply

  10. Brady miaau

    January 28, 2015 at 16:01

    This is nothing. My little girl constantly plays 90’s adventure games. And she is only 14 months.

    She picks up items from her inventory, rubs that item on everything else in her inventory to see what happens. If reaction, she then carefully places new item in inventory or she then tosses that one aside and starts again with a new item.

    That is the spirit of 90;s adventure games?

    Reply

    • Spaffy

      January 28, 2015 at 16:04

      Start them young. Gave my 9yr Monkey Island the other day. He has yet to leave the room.

      Reply

      • Brady miaau

        January 28, 2015 at 16:05

        Awesome. I got that on Xbox 360.

        Cannot wait, I think a bit later on this year she will react to Kinect.

        Reply

        • Spaffy

          January 28, 2015 at 16:06

          My twin 5yr olds do their own thing on the 360. Quite a few child/kinect friendly games on there.

          Reply

          • Brady miaau

            January 28, 2015 at 16:08

            More than on my Xbox One! My child already reacts to Kinectimals on my wifes phone, but no kinectimals for Xbox one. She like the cute cats and touches them to get a reaction. Does not yet get skip rope. Keeps touching the poor tiger when I am trying to skip to show her

            *edit. And Twins? I would not cope……. But I suppose if you have to you have to and you do.

          • Spaffy

            January 28, 2015 at 16:09

            Yea, they struggle a bit with the remote control vehicle also

  11. ReaperOfSquirrels

    January 28, 2015 at 16:43

    Ugh, that border would drive me nuts… still contemplating getting this seeing as I still have the original discs.

    Reply

    • WitWolfy

      January 29, 2015 at 12:00

      You can turn the borders off in the options menu.

      Reply

  12. WitWolfy

    January 29, 2015 at 11:59

    Found 2 glitches so far in year 2… Got stuck in the VIP room kitchen when trying to pick up the turkey baster and the elevator doors didnt open when trying to leave the VIP section.. He just like walked through the wall the whole time…

    Good thing I saved before hand.

    Reply

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