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Grim Fandango Review

Games like Grim Fandango don't come along so often these days, so the chance to play this classic tail once again was always going to be of the 'bite your hand off' variety. Seeing not only afterlife travel agent Manny Calavera, but the LucasArts logo, light up the screen is a joy to behold and playing the game now is as brilliant as it was  back at release, all those years ago.

If you are unfamiliar with the tale, it follows, Manny, an agent trying to work off debts by selling expedited afterlife travel to paradise so he can eventually get there himself. It's a game packed to the hilt with humour, comedy, a jazzy soundtrack, and lots of interesting characters. The game itself is split into four years, with each offering something different, especially in terms of the locations you'll visit and NPC's you'll meet.

Grim Fandango is a game that doesn't hold your hand. There is no tutorial, instead you are thrown into the action and expected to know what you are doing. There is a whole lot of game here and like most classic adventure titles, you'll need to think outside the box in order to get through to the end. As you'd expect, this involves collecting lots of items and using them in innovative and often unusual ways, it's clever and bizarre at the same time, but most of all, it's a whole load of fun.

As you'd expect, playing through this game can often be a lesson in frustration as you stumble from one puzzle to the next, trying to figure out what it is you are actually meant to be doing. Even when thinking outside the box, the answer is not always obvious and while you could simply look up the solution on the internet, that's a resort that should only be breached once you have exhausted all other avenues and have moved onto throwing things around the room in frustration. A hint system may have taken some of the toll off your inevitable frustration, but alas there is none.

Considering Grim Fandango is a rather old game, it has aged very well. The aspect ratio means you are stuck with borders and although you can stretch the aspect to 16:9, it does look rather awful in doing so, therefore sticking to the bordered version is the best option. But like I say, it looks pretty good anyway. The main characters seem to have been brought up to speed in terms of looks, while the backgrounds and scenery look great on a modern TV. Playing with borders is never ideal, but it's not a bad experience.

There are a few other extras thrown in for good measure, for instance, there's developer commentary, which is full of fun facts and humour. It's well worth checking this out as not only will it have you laughing and learning how the game came to be, but it also doesn't spoil the game or the puzzles in anyway.

Considering the PS Vita and PS4 versions are cross-buy and cross-save compatible and that you are getting a 12 hour + game for your cash, there is some great value to be had here. Sure it would have been nice if the developer included a few more features, especially a full 16:9 aspect ratio, but as it is, Grim Fandango is actually a really pleasant and fun game to play and one well worth checking out.

Words by Joe Anderson
Twitter: @_wotta | PSN/Xbox Live: wotta

(Version Tested: PS4)


+ Great fun
+ Tough puzzles
+ Has aged well
+ Developer commentary


- Lacks native 16:9 aspect ratio
- Could do with a hint system

Edited On 29 Jan, 2015

( 6 )
superniceguy's avatar
superniceguy 2 years ago
Does this game on PS$ or even the PS4 support keyboard and mouse? After reading the forums to the Steam version, it has PS controller prompts and not the usual Xbox prompts, so I may get PS4 version then. I am not bothered with borders on old stuff. TV shows that have been resized to 16:9 from 4:3 are missing the top and bottom of the picture. When watching Highlander on Netflix, this was the case, and you could just see the top of the writing located at the bottom of the picture, that stated the location and the year of where and when the flashback was taking place, and in most cases could not read it. Even if they managed to recreate the image to 16:9 without that kind of loss it would still probably look weird.
superniceguy's avatar
superniceguy 2 years ago
That is just silly. It is an old game and not written in 16:9 as that ratio was not popular back then. If you can't stand the lack of native 16:9 on old games, then retro is not for you. Current games should be mainly 16:9. I did not notice the black bars in the Evil Within, but they are only there at the end of the day to show the right aspect as originally intended. Not everything should have to fill the entire screen, because not everything is going to fit on a standard 16:9 TV. Films still have black bars as they are designed for cinema which are wider.
Dead's avatar
Dead 2 years ago
Get a room you two.
superniceguy's avatar
superniceguy 2 years ago
I will have to check out Halo on the original Xbox and the 360 and see if there are bits of the picture missing on the bottom and top, but as it is a game makes not much difference as you look / pan around. In this game it would probably ruin it if they resized it. TV shows that were filmed in 4:3 and then broadcasters rezise them to be 16:9 so it fills the entire screen, which is basically a zoom, you are missing the top and bottom of the picture. When they show it in 4:3 still you see every thing that was filmed. Developers put black bars at the top and below to give a cinematic effect, as the cinema screens are wider than a standard widescreen TV. Over the years there have mainly been 16:9 and 4:3 and cinema is 21:9. If you play the game on a 4:3 TV/Monitor you will not get the black borders. If you get a cinema sized screen then the black borders on games like Evil Within may not exist. While there are different screens with varying aspects you will always get black borders.
JoeToots's avatar
JoeToots 2 years ago
baking soda i got baking soda..
Turniplord's avatar
Turniplord 2 years ago
halo was easy to port to 16:9 because you are just expanding what the player can see. In this game all the backgrounds were mastered in 4:3 so unless they are to totally re-create the whole game, they wouldn't be able to make it 16:9 without losing important areas of the screen. This game has been touched up(remastered) not remade

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