Laughing at Death with Grim Fandango
A Remaster Worth Your Time
By Jared Petty
“So it appears that when death comes to a man, the mortal part of him dies, but the immortal part retires at the approach of death and escapes unharmed and indestructible.” - Socrates
You’re gonna die. So am I. So is everybody else. We deny our own impending deaths. We also obsess over them. Mortality defines the heart of everything we do, from our religious convictions to our social security payments to our art and entertainment. The ever-encroaching proximity of death feels strangling if you think too hard about it: every second we live kills us.
A friend in college used to constantly remind me that we cry and laugh for about the same reason: something seems very wrong. I officiated funerals, and though I saw lots of tears, I also experienced generous shares of laughter at those events. It felt good to laugh, it felt human.Grim Fandango catalyzes traditions of laughing at death (Día de los Muertos, The Danse Macabre, etc) and contextualizes these into a classically LucasArts story. As Manny Calavera, travel agent for the dead, you shuttle the deceased off to their eternal reward, while you yourself suffer a purgatorial punishment for crimes committed in life.
Classic PC adventure-game stuff is here in full force, (and full challenge) with items interacting for maximum brain strain and humorous impact. The puzzles amuse and provide mechanical meat to the game, but they aren’t really the point. Grim Fandango’s themes carry it. It’s an illustration of Purgatory far more engaging than the second act of The Divine Comedy (I adore Dante, but things really start to unravel after Inferno). Oof. Dante’s Inferno. That game sucked. Great book though.
Anyway, back to a good game. Grim Fandango explores a purgatorial space equal parts banal office and resplendent Día de los Muertos playground. And for all the jokes and puzzles and the occasional drama, the game is really mostly about lessons, about the pain inherent in learning, and ultimately, about how knowledge absorbed in empathy can be redemptive.Rather than hitting you over the head with a moral crowbar, Grim Fandango conveys its hopeful message through quips, one-liners, silly challenges, and sight gags. Watching the Grim Reaper slip out of his working clothes (scythe, rope, and elevator shoes) at the company locker hits right at the heart of what Grim Fandango is about. We are invited to laugh at death.
Will you like Grim Fandango: Remastered? If you like your brain teasers funny, gorgeous, existential, and surprisingly sincere, then yeah, you probably will.
Like its partners in time Day of the Tentacle and Full Throttle, the remastered Grim Fandango lets you switch between original and remastered graphics on the fly, so you can take in scenes as they were originally intended and through a stylistically-respectful reimagining. Both look bright and pleasing to the eye.
Grim Fandango: Remastered is up for pre-order now at the Limited Run Games store for Xbox, PlayStation, and PC Collector’s Edition. But hurry and reserve your copy; pre-orders close on December 18th.
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Limited Run Games:
is a subsidiary of “Freemode”, an operative group comprised of gaming and entertainment companies owned by Embracer. Limited Run Games is the industry leader in the production and distribution of premium physical video games. Limited Run seeks to celebrate the legacy of gaming through its award-winning collector’s editions. Founded in 2015, they have published over 1,000 physical games, exclusive merch, and collectables. Limited Run is the gold standard in bringing digital games to physical form and now re-releasing retro titles on modern platforms via their proprietary Carbon Engine. Visit limitedrungames.com for the latest offerings and to learn more about Carbon Engine development. Follow the brand on your social media platform of choice for all LRG-related updates:@limitedrungames.