The Canon: Grim Fandango

In Honor of our upcoming pairing, I thought I would cover Grim Fandango. Since first playing GF in February, it has become one of my favorite video game experiences. Grim Fandango is an adventure game created by Tim Schafer and was published by LucasArts in 1998.

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What made it great then? While I never played Grim Fandango when it was released, I can take a swing at what was great about it. Grim Fandango mixed modern 3D graphics with pre rendered backgrounds making it an up to date adventure game from a great team and publisher. The story is a supernatural noir mystery that takes place in the Land of the Dead. Controlling Manny Calavera, the player must unravel a conspiracy preventing some souls from reaching their eternal reward. The support cast of characters fill out the expected archetypes, the client who Manny must help throughout the afterlife, the comic relief demon who loves fast cars, and a full array of seedy lowlifes. It’s a great concept for an adventure game and feels almost film like at some points. It was highly regarded when it was released even though its sales ended up falling short.

 

What makes it great now? I was introduced to Grim Fandango through Playstation Plus. It was part of the instant game collection for January 2016. While I am a big fan of Tim Shafer’s work, I did not expect to like GF as much as I did. The story is incredibly interesting and I really love the Land of the Dead setting. It is a curious concept to have a world where the denizens are attempting to reach salvation yet seem oddly stationary in their current world. For the most part there aren’t many souls who seem to be working on getting on to the end of their death, despite the vague promise of eternal rest. This aspect fascinated me, add in the clever dialogue, generally interesting puzzles and I was hooked. I loved it enough to play it again immediately after my first play-through to collect a few odd trophies and go back to my favorite moments. Despite GF being 18 this year, I can wholeheartedly recommend playing it, the controls are simple and the story is really something worth experiencing.

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Why should it be remembered? Grim Fandango has had its fair share of critical acclaim. This may not mean it will go in the annals of video game history, but it is a feature not all of my Cannon games have had. GF will be remembered for its universally easy to understand gameplay and the originality of its story. The characters and plot points stick with the player and create a desire to revisit the Land of the Dead despite having fully explored the game. Even now, I am interested in experiencing GF again. It holds a place in my heart like a classic movie that can be re-watched over and over without cheapening the experience.

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-Peter

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