12.5 C
New York
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Home News Grim Fandango is back after 17 years and better than ever

Grim Fandango is back after 17 years and better than ever

Manny Calavera is a travel agent… of sorts. He works for the Department of Death, where he sells travel packages to recently departed souls from the city of El Marrow, the Land of the Dead. This is the setting for one of the most original adventure games ever created, a title originally developed for Windows and published by LucasArts way back in 1998. Now it’s back for Mac, PC, and Linux (with iOS still in the works), and it’s every bit as weird and wonderful as it was 17 years ago — only better.

Grim Fandango is, arguably, the pinnacle of the point-and-click adventure game that LucasArts was at one time renown for making. The game didn’t do particularly well when it was first released, but over time it’s grown to almost-legendary status, often being placed on critics’ top games lists of its era.

Most of us thought we’d seen the last of Grim Fandango years ago, and when Disney bought out LucasArts and made it clear there weren’t plans to resurrect the company’s classic point-and-click adventure games, its fate looked bleak. But that’s where the game’s new developer, Double Fine Productions, comes into play: Double Fine’s pedigree is directly descended from LucasArts. The company is run by Tim Schaefer, who worked as a designer on the original Grim Fandango, along with Full Throttle and The Secret of Monkey Island. Double Fine has produced a number of excellent original titles in its tenure as a game studio, like last year’s Broken Age (which iMore recognized as Mac puzzle game of the year).

The story

Grim Fandango is a weird mix of Aztec folklore and film noir, owing much to classic Humphrey Bogart films like The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca. The tale takes on a nourish caper bent, with Manny as the lovable anti-hero — a slacker travel agent trying to work off a debt in order to pass to the Ninth Underworld, a soul’s final destination after it departs the land of the living. Try as he might, though, Manny can never get ahead.

He finally thinks he’s found his big break when he finagles a dream client — only to have her snatched away. Manny discovers that something fishy is going on, and he’s drawn into a plot involving a revolutionary group trying to overturn a conspiracy within the Department of Death. That’s where the game gets really interesting.

Grim Fandango is divided into four distinct acts, each taking place on November 2nd over several consecutive years. November 2nd, for those not in the know, is the Day of the Dead — a Latin America holiday focused on remembrance of friends and family that have passed away — and as such, it’s no surprise that the game is rich with the cultural artifacts of this holiday. Manny and his character compatriots are all based on calaca figures from Dia de los Muertos artwork and crafts; the setting also owes much to 1930s-era noir Art Deco architecture and design.

I won’t spoil too much more, as I don’t want to take away a big part of the joy of Grim Fandango: discovering how the story unfolds. It’s just a terrific tale; it takes several hours to play through and is loads of fun.

The controls

In Double Fine’s Grim Fandango Remastered, you control Manny and interact with his environment by pointing and clicking; watching how his head tracks will give you an idea of specific hot spots you should click on or characters you should interact with. A pop-up interface lets you either manipulate an object, pick it up and add it to your inventory (Manny’s suit pocket can hold an infinite number of items), or — in the case of other characters — talk to them. Dialogue between characters involves branching choices.

Grim Fandango Remastered is an old game, yes, but it’s not easy. In fact, it’s a lot more challenging than many recent graphic adventures I’ve played. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, or that it’s excessively frustrating, either. There’s no way to “die” in this game, so you won’t be smashing your fists against the table in some endless twitch effort, either. The only time the game starts to fray is during the cut scenes, which look really grainy and antiquated compared to what we’ve come to expect out of games today.

The remastering process

The game hasn’t been reworked from scratch: It’s still instantly recognizable as Grim Fandango, with the same story, same puzzles and same jokes that made the game so eminently playable back in the late 1990s. It’s just been updated and tweaked to take advantage of modern processing capabilities, with repainted higher-resolution character textures, new dynamic lighting effects, the score re-recorded by a live orchestra, and some special extras worthy of a Blu-ray disc or DVD release.

Grim Fandango Remastered’s bonus content includes more than two hours of directors’ commentary and a concept art browser; it’s a fun addition that gives the game’s biggest fans get even more out of the experience.

Bottom line

The lack of handholding may frustrate gamers new to the adventure genre, but the good news is that as a 17 year old game, there are plenty of walkthroughs and hint guides that you can find with a quick Google search. But honestly, solving the puzzles yourself is a lot more fun, because it requires you to pay careful attention to the story and to the environment. And Grim Fandango is worth your attention.

Grim Fandango Remastered is available for download through Steam.

  • $14.99 – Download now

Latest

Samsung is reportedly teaming up with ARM and AMD to beat Qualcomm

The company's next flagship mobile processor could give the Snapdragon 875 a run for its money.What you need to knowSamsung

Xiaomi launches MIUI 12 in India: Here’s everything you need to know

Some Xiaomi phones have already started receiving the MIUI 12 update in India.What you need to knowXiaomi has unveiled its

Yes, there’s a “Netflix for sleep” and it has hundreds of hours of content

We live in a time where a lot of startups pitch themselves as a “Netflix for ___” or an “Uber for ____” business. This is the era of subscriptions, services, side hustles and the gig economy.When it comes to subscriptions and streaming services, a lot of people think of music and video. And that’s where Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime reign supreme.As nice as it is to fall asleep to your favorite shows or movies, it’s not exactly the best stuff for your brain. If you’re honest with yourself, you know you could do better when it pertains to getting quality rest. And it starts with proper sleep.Instead of trying to unwind with a new episode of “The World’s Most Dangerous Prisons”, why not try some guided meditation? Try Restflix, a streaming service designed to help you get more restful sleep and deal with stress.Restflix is helps users fall asleep faster and rest better, and includes 20+ personalized channels with meditative music, bedtime stories, and calming videos.Restflix is not just for sleep, either. Use it throughout your day to unplug or re-center yourself ahead of that next Zoom call or virtual meeting.Watch on all major platforms: Apple TV, iOS, Roku, Android & Fire TVWatch 20+ live channels featuring soothing sounds, bedtime stories, kids, guided meditations & moreUnlimited video & audio w/ no interruptionsHuge variety of Sleep expert-approvedHelps overcome insomnia, tinnitus, night-time anxiety, & lower everyday stressAvailabilityYou can purchase a subscription to Restflix in one, two, and three year options. It normally costs $49 per year if you purchase it direct; however, we’re offering deep discounts to our readers. The longer you subscribe, the bigger the savings!1-year subscription – $29.992-year subscription – $49.993-year subscription – $59.99Best SellersEarn Credits!For every $25 you spend in the AG Deals Store you get $1 credit added to your account. And, if you refer the deal via social media or an email that results in a purchase, you’ll earn $10 credit in your account.First Time Buying?If this is your first time buying, you are also eligible for 10% discount! Just be sure to subscribe for email updates.Free StuffNot looking to spend any money today? No worries. You can still visit the AndroidGuys section for freebies and pick something anyhow.

With OxygenOS 11, OnePlus ditches stock Android for Samsung’s One UI

One of the best things about OxygenOS is its stock Android UI. That's changing with OxygenOS 11.The first OxygenOS 11