fri 25/09/2020

Grim Fandango Remastered | reviews, news & interviews

Grim Fandango Remastered

Grim Fandango Remastered

A classic point-and-click adventure returns – but is the past another country?

'Grim Fandango Remastered': Witty noir dialogue and impossibly obscure puzzles – of this, memories…

The recent glut of reboots, remasters and HD updates for classic videogames is not a sign of a fatigued industry, out of imagination. One of the biggest issues with videogames and the rapid evolution of the the gadgets and consoles they play on, is that all too often gamers are left unable to play a game five years old, let alone over fifteen years old.

The recent glut of reboots, remasters and HD updates for classic videogames is not a sign of a fatigued industry, out of imagination. One of the biggest issues with videogames and the rapid evolution of the the gadgets and consoles they play on, is that all too often gamers are left unable to play a game five years old, let alone over fifteen years old.

That's so ancient in games terms, you might as well try plugging cave paintings into a flatscreen TV. The return of warmly-remembered titles, brought back for those who miss them, and those that missed them first time round, is not then a worry – but a potential boon. Particularly as most videogames companies seem content to keep the key elements of the game untouched.

Grim Fandango from Tim Schafer and Double FineSo, Grim Fandango Remastered isn't a reboot – it doesn't swap out elements, or redesign levels. The graphics have been improved, the sublime score has been rerecorded by a live orchestra and there have been some control tweaks. On top there's an optional commentary from the game's creators. But aside from that, nothing has been changed. Which is (largely) welcome, because Grim Fandango is a genuine classic.

It was the last great adventure game of the point-and-click era. Returning it to modern day PCs and consoles showcases why it was so loved, but also the way some design decisions and control schemes have aged in videogames badly.

The game is a bizarre, off-kilter and brilliantly imaginative tale based on Mexican "Day Of The Dead" mythology, with you as a struggling sales rep for souls passing through purgatory. It remains one of the high points of brilliantly witty in-game dialogue and characterisation, with this matched by uniquely-stylised design – the result is a love letter to noir, and simultaneously a surreal Mexican trip.

Grim Fandango from Tim Schafer and Double FineThat's the good news. Now the bad: it turns out there were primarily two reasons 90s point-and-click games died out. Firstly, controlling and moving your character around rooms with static viewpoints is a pain in the backside – something the early episodes in the Resident Evil series also amply proved. Doors don't get noticed, tables can't be approached because the camera shifts etc. Control tweaks here go some way to solving the issue – but it's still obvious why so few videogames these days force you to wander blindly round the edges of a room in the hope of finding a door you can't see.

Secondly, and a far bigger issue, Grim Fandango represents surely the absolute pinnacle of frustratingly opaque puzzle design. Fortunately, the internet has an answer for everything. But in 15 years, the new breed of puzzle games has at least learnt to make puzzles make sense.

Despite these failures though, Grim Fandango Remastered is to be heartily recommended – not just for nostalgic gamers, but because it still is a genuinely funny, bizarre and brilliant piece of noir storytelling.

A genuinely funny, bizarre and brilliant piece of noir storytelling...

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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