Grim Fandango, originally released by LucasArts in 1998, is by far one of the most fondly remembers classical point and click adventure games alongside the Monkey Island series and Maniac Mansion. It’s a game that remains very nostalgic to me, as somebody who grew up playing point and click games, an experience I associate with my mother and probably my earliest exposure to narrative-driven games of any kind. It seems that with the growth of indie games a rejuvenation of the point and click genre has begun, with the critically acclaimed Telltale games the most notable as a clear evolution of the formula. More traditionally styled takes on the point and click have mostly been relegated to PC until this point, Double Fine cleanly have ambitions to bring the old school stylings to console. First with Grim Fandango Remastered, and then the hotly anticipated Day of the Tentacle remake as well as the much more recent Broken Age which will both be hitting the PlayStation ecosystem in the near future.
Grim Fandango Remastered is exactly what the title says in the purest form. Not a single alteration has been made to the game at its core, with some much appreciated tweaks to the visuals of the game but every other asset kept identical to the original release. This is exactly what fans of the original want, but may prove frustrating to those who never had exposure to point and click adventure games at their prime. As a genre infamous for its nonsensical and at times infuriating logic, puzzles in Grim Fandango may prove too daunting a task for many. Thankfully the game is not one of the more severe examples of this and I never found myself stuck for too long on any one puzzle in my playthrough.
The visual remastering of the game is limited to an upgrade to the games engine, with improved lighting and drastically improved textures whilst retaining the original character models and pre-rendered backgrounds. As the game initially made use of heaving stylised visuals I feel the aesthetics stand up well, clearly dated in some respects but ultimately still quite appealing. The option to swap between the remastered and original visuals is a nice touch and helps emphasize the difference small updates like these can make. Animations are often equally stylised though occasionally a little off, with the occasional visual hiccup to remind you of the limitations the game was originally developed with. Transitions between certain scenes and animations can stutter and often cause somewhat lengthy periods in which the players control is taken away simply to watch a fairly mundane action take place. This usually isn’t particularly noticeable but when an action is repeated multiple times as you attempt to solve a puzzle it can grow increasingly irritating. Thankfully, characters interacting with the pre-rendered backdrops are smartly limited, and most scenes will manage to avoid these moments completely.
A small few options help you to alter the display and controls to best suit your own preference, and cloud save between PS4 and Vita works well and is appreciated in this kind of game which can do a masterful job of keeping you entertained in the comfort of your home and on commutes to and from work. The Vita version of the game even allows the use of the touch screen to play the game in its original point and click format which I’m certain will be a welcome option to those who find it odd playing the game with console controls.
Grim Fandango Remastered is a welcome and wonderfully executed return for fans, updating elements without encroaching on space that might upset fans of the original release. Newcomers may find aspects outdated and impenetrable, but those who can work past these will find a unique and enjoyable story full of memorable, loveable characters that is well worth the time to experience. Double Fine’s handling of this remaster has satiated my nostalgia without a hint of disappointment, and has me all the more eager to see how they handle the translation of other projects to modern consoles. A must play for point and click fans, and highly recommended for anybody even remotely curious about the genre.
This review is based on the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
- Replay Value