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Grim Fandango Remastered: Back from the dead

Grim Fandango has always had a special place in the hearts of classic adventure game fans thanks to its narrative depth, rich characters, and impressive game length. At its time, it was LucasArts’ most challenging adventure game ever produced, and it’s high time that it received the polish that it’s always needed to make it the game it deserves to be.


You’d think then that a remaster is the perfect way to give Grim that polish, and it does a good enough job, but I can’t shake the feeling that  more  should’ve been done. All of the characters have received a fresh coat of paint in the form of high-res textures that retain their original stylings, so they’re sharper but no more detailed, with the exception of a bit of modern lighting. The interface has received its own transformation: players can now control the eternally-damned Manny Calavera with mouse, keyboard, or gamepad, with either camera-aligned or the classic, and horrible, “tank” controls. The audio has received perhaps the most attention, in the form of a completely reorchestrated soundtrack courtesy of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. There’s also plenty of insightful director’s commentary along for the ride, which is perhaps the best part of this release.

Everything else is, sadly, left intact. Just that is an impressive accomplishment, though; gathering up the assets from Grim was a gargantuan task all on its own. But while I appreciate the effort that Double Fine went through to dig up these old assets, I’d appreciate it even more if the background art could have received its own updates. As it is, the improved characters look awful against the low-resolution scenes on which they’re placed, and glitches between the two are common. If the backgrounds were improved then the whole game could perhaps have been refitted for widescreen monitors, but unfortunately you’re stuck at 4:3 with bars on the sides of the screen, or 16:9 that stretches everything.

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