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Grim Fandango Remastered review: A legendary adventure brought back to life

Hayden Dingman | Jan. 30, 2015
Okay, you've heard of this "Grim Fandango" game for years and everyone seems pretty excited it's been re-released, but what the hell is it? Any relation to the WWE wrestler? How about the excellent-but-also-underrated/canceled cartoon Frisky Dingo?

Okay, you've heard of this "Grim Fandango" game for years and everyone seems pretty excited it's been re-released, but what the hell is it? Any relation to the WWE wrestler? How about the excellent-but-also-underrated/canceled cartoon Frisky Dingo?

No and no. Unfortunately.

Grim Fandango is a classic adventure game from Tim Schafer and Co. released right before LucasArts stopped making classic adventure games. In other words, the long-distant past of 1998. 

You play the part of Manuel "Manny" Calavera, who looks a lot like the Grim Reaper until he takes off his cloak and takes off his stilts and folds up his scythe and reveals he's...a travel agent. No, seriously. When you die, you end up in the Land of the Dead where you must embark on a four-year journey to the Ninth Underworld.

If you were a good person, however, you can skip that whole "four-year journey" thing and travel in style — by car, by boat, or by the fabled "Number Nine" train, which can get you to the Ninth Underworld in mere minutes. Manny's job is to sell these travel packages.

There's a huge conspiracy afoot in the Land of the Dead though, and it's up to Manny to solve it. Someone is stealing Number Nine tickets from good people and leaving them to the four-year walk. And when it happens to one of Manny's clients, well, that's when things get interesting.

It's a seedy noir film mixed in with Aztec/Mexican views of the afterlife. Frankly, it's one of the most unique and clever settings ever to make it into a video game, and shows off Tim Schafer and LucasArts at their prime.

The game also sold terribly, so it's unlikely you've played it unless you donned an eye-patch in the last fifteen years. You should play Grim Fandango Remastered. It's great.

Some caveats: It's a 90s adventure game, meaning it is full of asinine puzzles where the solutions barely make sense. If you haven't played before, you're going to get stuck. Just do yourself a favor: Open a walkthrough, read the solution, say "Wow, that's asinine," move on, and continue enjoying the game's excellent writing. Don't let the game ruin your enjoyment of the game. Because it could. Really easily.

Seriously, and I can't say this enough, some of the puzzles are absurd. Okay, you want an example? How about "There are beavers that are on fire and you have to lure them to jump off a cliff and shoot them with a fire extinguisher so they drown in a tar river"? Is that asinine enough for you? Because I almost had an aneurysm typing it.

 

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