First Impressions - Grim Fandango Remastered

Gotta love that Art Deco lobby

Wow it wasn't long ago that I talked about another game that was remastered but here we go again. This time, it's a classic adventure game which was coincidentally developed around the same time as the first Resident Evil in the late 1990s. I'm talking about Grim Fandango, a classic Lucasarts adventure game set in an Aztec-inspired but Art-Deco styled afterlife. You play the role of Manny Calavera ("calavera" is Spanish for "skull" - you learn something new everyday) a travel agent with the Department of Death who reaps souls from the Land of the Living and then arranges to give them luxury transportation for their journey through the nine levels of the afterlife. How well someone has lived their lives dictates whether they can afford better transportation - so a saint would be able to afford the coveted Number 9 train that takes you to the ninth level of eternal rest in 4 minutes instead of 4 years (or at least that's what Manny says as part of his sales pitch). Manny isn't getting any "good" customers as of late and it's up to you to get to the bottom of it.

It's obviously a very unique world, one that hasn't really been replicated (except maybe for Guacamelee! which is obviously inspired by Grim Fandango). Consequently its an interesting setting plus its previous critical successes should at least pique the interest of the younger generation who haven't played the original before. For those of us, like me, who have played the original though, is it worth buying again?

Well the answer is easy in my case since I've misplaced my original copy somewhere - so a new remastered, digital copy is a no-brainer :). For the rest of you, here's what you've got to look forward to:

What I like

  • Very faithful remaster: Just as it was with the recently released Resident Evil remaster, this is a very faithful one. In fact, so much so I don't think any scenes or puzzles have changed. The voice acting hasn't been touched either.
  • High-res textures: The guys at Double Fine have applied high-res textures to all the character models so they're looking a lot sharper nowadays than they used to back in 1998.
  • Redone soundtrack: I haven't really noticed any differences between the new soundtrack and the old one but apparently it's been redone so it's higher quality. They must've done a pretty good job if it's that seamless!
  • Point 'n' click: You're now able to play the game with just the mouse like a traditional point 'n' click adventure! Yay! You can still use the old method of controlling Manny too if you wish.

What I don't like

  • Not totally point 'n' click: While they have given you the option to just use a mouse to move around the screen and interact with objects, it's still not exactly like traditional point 'n' clicks since you still have the old inventory system which involves cycling through objects and then making the object the "active" object before you can interact with things. It would've been nice if they would've allowed you to just drag and drop items from your inventory but obviously that would've required more work.
  • Low-res backgrounds: While the character models have received the high-res treatment the backgrounds have not - they're exactly the same as the original. This means it's even more apparent how much things have changed when you've got the high-res Manny walking around the garage to meet a low-res Glottis stumbling out of his hut (only for Glottis to turn into a high-res version of himself after the animation is complete).
  • Character models: The character models are still the old character models which means a low polygon count (which isn't too much of a problem) and lots of clipping (something I think they could've done a better job on)
  • Maybe a bit pricey?: The game is $15 USD which is more expensive than the Monkey Island remake. Admittedly this is a 3D adventure game and not a 2D one and some things have been altered (like the ability to use point 'n' click) but it still has to be mentioned.


This is exactly what I expected from a remastered version of the game - well almost. While there are very occasional graphical glitches and the clipping of the polygons make the character models look out-of-date (despite the high-res textures) everything else is the way it should be - and you can finally play the game as a point 'n' click adventure too! I'm just happy Grim Fandango is available on PC again so that everyone can enjoy its greatness - however, I'm still not going to type out that review until I've finished the game again :).

[ LINK: Official Grim Fandango Remastered website ]