Grim Fandango Remastered (LucasArts and Double Fine, 1998-2015)

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Grim Fandango Remastered, developed by LucasArts and Double Fine Productions (1998-2015, PS4).

Score: A classic and a masterpiece.

Boy, I love me some remasters of games I never got to play in its day. Grim Fandango is as fresh and endearing as it must have been the day it came out.

You are Manny Calavera and you’re dead. Your job is to reap the souls of the recently deceased and sell them the best travel package they’re eligible for. If they were good, they get to travel to the afterlife in a luxury train in just four minutes, while if they were bad, they get to walk for four years across a savage land populated by rabid beavers and other adorable creatures. For some reason, Manny is only getting clients that are eligible for next to nothing and they’re threatening to fire him, while his colleague Domino is getting all the premium clients. And the reason is that ***MILD SPOILERS*** their company is actually running a scam, cheating good people of their tickets to sell them to rich dead who led objectionable lives.***END SPOILERS*** As you can see, part of what makes it so fresh after over fifteen years is that the plot is timeless.

The game is so much fun. It’s a graphic adventure where you speak with other characters, pick up stuff and use it to interact with the environment. As usual, you have to grind your brains to figure out what to do most of the time and some of the interactions are quite clever and funny, others are logical and some of them are absolutely nonsensical, but hey, that’s old-game difficulty for you. Something else I have difficulties with is figuring what parts of the background can be interacted with and how, and it could get really frustrating when I knew what to do but couldn’t just find the right angle for the interaction to trigger and when I got stuck in parts of the stage and couldn’t come out or missed whole portions of it due to the weird camera angles. Still, it’s worth it.

The sense of humour is delicious and the characters are so charismatic, especially the Manny-Glottis duo. The design and flavor are just awesome, mixing Latin American folklore with 1940′s noir. This will make me get a Mexican skull tattoo one day, I’m sure, and watch our for the references to classic Noir movies, such as Casablanca and Double Indemnity. Tony Plana does a superb job voicing Manny, with many easter eggs for us Spanish speakers, and in general the voice acting and dialogue is great. They kept the original Spanish dub in the remaster, which is clearly inferior to the original one in terms of spontaneity (and all the Mexican accents are gone, except for Chepito, who has an inexplicably thick and fake one).

As for the remaster, it comes with newly rendered character models and the original backgrounds (though the models are not rerendered in the cutscenes) and includes both the original tank controls and more modern, camera-based ones. If you want the platinum trophy, you’re going to have to endure the tank controls.

But don’t take it from me. You can enjoy this gem on PS4, PSVita, OSX, Linux and Windows. I’ll be waiting here when you’re done!

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