the Andrew Bailey

Grim Fandango

This would be a Halloween game, but Cinco de Mayo is this week, so here's a game to go along with my hot burgers. Grim Fandango is a key part of the Tim Schafer pantheon. It was the last game he made before leaving LucasArts and establishing Double Fine Productions. Like Tim's earlier games, Grim Fandango is an adventure game that first released in 1998: the closing days of the classic adventure game era.

Screenshot of Manny talking to Domino.

A remastered version released in 2015, which is the version I've played. The original game had 3D characters on top of pre-rendered backgrounds, and the remaster keeps all of them, even at their original resolution. The remaster adds point and click features, whereas the original had tank controls only.

Moment to moment gameplay is dominated by dialog and clicking everything on everything else. However, the exact way forward isn't always obvious, and there are several points where the game falls into stupid puzzle territory. For example, how on earth would I know that I should put an oily rag on a toaster and turn it on?

You play as Manny Calavaras, first as a travel agent, then nightclub owner, spy, and saboteur. The plot draws him into a conspiracy that his higher ups aren't as altruistic as they should be. You get the idea almost immediately that you're very low on the ladder. There's a street festival going on outside, but you never get to enjoy it, except for talking to the inflatable balloon guy. Your clients you're assigned to are crumby.

Screenshot of Manny in the revolutionary bunker.

The game has a lot of film noir themes and motifs, so there are parts of the vibe that I like. The office building that Manny works out of has lot of Art Deco flourishes. Many characters smoke (no wonder that they're all dead). You turn into a detective trying to solve a big mystery. The world is bleak, dark, and uncaring.

If you like adventure games, or Tim Schafer games, you've probably played this already, so you don't need my opinion on it. People don't drool over Grim Fandango as heavily as Psyconauts, so I can't ding it for being overrated.

Posted under Gaming. 0 complaints.