Review: Grim Fandango Remastered (PSV)

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Title: Grim Fandango Remastered
Format: PlayStation Network Download (3.1 GB)
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: T
Grim Fandango Remastered is also available on PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, and Linux. It is a Cross-Buy, Cross-Save title.
The PlayStation Vita version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Adventure games have seen a recent popularity boom, at least in the mainstream gaming world, thanks mainly to the superb entries from Telltale Games. This has given rise to games strictly in this genre a new life, bringing some new and fascinating stories and worlds to life.

It was actually those recent Telltale Games titles which started my interest in this particular genre, as before The Walking Dead and Tales from the Borderlands I had spent most likely around ten total hours with just strictly adventure games during my whole gaming life. So upon deciding to review a remaster of a highly popular adventure game which also received high critical acclaim, Grim Fandango I was nervous, excited, and even a little skeptical.

Is Grim Fandango a game which is still considered goodgreat in 2015? Is the popularity of this game founded solely on nostalgia? Or is Grim Fandango truly a remarkable game that fully lives up to its level of popularity?

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Since this a fifteen year old game I am going to assume most people do not know the story line, but if you do, skip the next paragraph.

We’re introduced to Manny Calavera, a skeleton, who works at the Department of Death (DOD). Manny built up a decent amount of sin throughout his living life and is required to work off that sin through his job at the DOD in order to move on. When a person dies in the living world Manny arrives on the scene to bring the newly dead person into the afterworld. He works with them to figure out what travel packages they have received for being a good person during their life and then sends them on their way. In order for Manny to work off his sins he has to secure clients that have lived exceptionally good lives allowing them to receive better travel packages. Recently though Manny has been falling on hard times not being able to secure any good clients which results in his boss threatening to fire him if he can’t sell a premium travel package.

Gameplay:
Grim Fandango is a very welcome non-hand holding adventure game. You’ll come across a bunch of puzzles throughout Manny’s adventure and while all of them are a challenge, usually requiring multiple parts to solve a particular puzzle, you’re never punished for messing up. If you’re extra observant though Double Fine has placed very tiny hints throughout your adventure that will help you solve whatever puzzle you’re stuck on, but those hints just help, not solve.

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Grim Fandango has plenty of positives going for it – from characters to puzzles to music but its strongest by far is the story. Any doubt that I had with the game living up to the storytelling of current games was quickly demolished. In fact I would say the story of Manny is quite better than most games I have played recently. As a parody of film noir, sprinkled with situational humor throughout, the story is fantastic from beginning to end.

The standard controlling of Manny through the adventure sits on the left analog stick giving you a full 360-degrees of motion. As an additional treat, if you play this on the PlayStation Vita as I did, you’re also able to tap on the screen to move Manny as well as interact with items in the world. The touch controls work perfectly, which is helped by the fact that there aren’t many things to interact with.

The added upgrades, particularly the lighting models, have helped nail that noir-style that Double Fine was shooting for.
Visuals:
Grim Fandango received a visual upgrade from the PC version that was released in 1998. With that being said, the game does look good. The remastering provided many upgrades to the stock visuals: higher-resolution background textures, improved resolution for the character models, and real-time lighting models.

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The added upgrades, particularly the lighting models, have helped nail that noir-style that Double Fine was shooting for. The lighting updates now provide spectacular shadows that drape across the scene, upon objects and characters, really giving that noir look.

The overall look of Grim Fandango is unmistakable. From character models to the scenes themselves each is unique and helps create this particular world, feeling like the Dia de los Muertos celebration come to life.

Audio:
The entire game’s soundtrack has been redone by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and they really make it shine. The tones and melodies of jazz mixed with Mexican themes adds to the world making it all come to life even more.

Each character has their own unique voice actor, impressive in 1998, which fits the personality of the characters perfectly.

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Online/Multiplayer:
Grim Fandango is strictly a single-player only game with no form of multiplayer.

Conclusion:
After 15 years I can say without a shadow of the doubt Grim Fandango is as good, if not better, than what people say it is. I enjoyed my entire time in Manny’s world interacting with the fantastic characters and enjoying his tale.

Double Fine released a fantastic game fifteen years ago and it is still fantastic. Basically you need to play this game.

Score:
9.0

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* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

Written by Kyle Jessee

Kyle Jessee

Your lone Kentucky writer on staff. Loves the Big Blue Nation, rock music, and Resistance 2 (the best in the series).

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