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[PS Vita Review] Grim Fandango Remastered

Grim Logo Transparent copy

Something’s rotten in the land of the dead, and you’re being played for a sucker. Meet Manny Calavera, travel agent at the Department of Death. He sells luxury packages to souls on their four-year journey to eternal rest. But there’s trouble in paradise. Help Manny untangle himself from a conspiracy that threatens his very salvation.

Remastered version includes:

• Repainted, hi-res character textures
• New, dynamic lighting
• Classic score re-recorded with a full live orchestra
• Over 2 hours of exclusive developer commentary
• Concept art browser

Grim Fandango Remastered Launch Trailer

For the record, Grim Fandango is one of my favorite games of all time. I played the original when it released back in 1998, and I loved it. I still have my copy, even though it won’t run on current PC’s. That’s why I am so glad that we are seeing a remaster so that today’s gamers can enjoy it. This is remastering a classic done right!

The story is about Manny Calavera, travel agent to the dead. In our world he is the Grim Reaper, however in the Land of the Dead, he is the one who will help you book the most affordable passage to the afterlife. When you meet Manny, he is down on his luck, having trouble meeting his quotas. He was on top before, but a new salesman seems to be getting all of the good clients and is now the superstar. Manny takes things into his own hands after meeting Mercedes “Meche” Colomar, who was a saint in her life. She should qualify for a great travel package, but Manny can’t seem to schedule it. She leaves on her own and Manny goes off trying to help her get to her afterlife. As to not spoil too much this is where I’m going to stop talking about the story, but trust me, it gets good!


The game actually takes place on the Day of the Dead for four consecutive years. After you finish each section of story, the game moves forward one year to the next Day of the Dead. It’s a neat storytelling mechanic that almost seems like the predecessor to the current episodic systems used in point-and-click games.

Lucas Arts created many great adventure games back in the day, all of the point-and-click variety. Grim Fandango changed that by introducing actual keyboard controls to the game with a brand new engine. Those were revolutionary back in 1998… but not so much today. For this reason, we now have a much better, reworked control scheme that follows current day standards. If you would like to play in the old tank controls “The Right Way” you still can by changing things in the options menu.

While the game controls differently, the fundamentals didn’t change. This is an adventure game, after all. Your goal is to move the story by solving your problems with the tools that you can find and by using them creatively. Every problem has an answer. You will rack your brain trying to find the solution, often missing something right in front of your face. I played the game before, and I still had trouble remembering exactly how to proceed on a couple of spots. Games aren’t hard like this anymore. On the other hand, they have gotten much better with their hint systems. Early Telltale games had a built-in hint systems that will give you a nudge in the right direction if you were having issues solving the puzzle. This would have been a great option for new players to the adventure genre since they might be put off by the difficulty.


The game itself looks beautiful, better than what I remember it being. Unfortunately, on the Vita’s screen something is lost in translation. Like many games that are cross-buy you lose some of the visual fidelity for the portability aspect. The game starts in 4:3 letterbox so you get borders on the left and right side of the screen, but you can switch it to widescreen to fit the entire screen. I did that and played through the game that way. It’s not as nice, but it’s better to see everything on the Vita version.

All of the music has been redone as well for the game. It was all re-recorded by an orchestra to get the best sound possible. The score for the game is amazing and epic, and I’m glad to see it get redone for the title. The voice work in the game remains untouched, which is awesome. This game features some of the best work in delivery and writing, even when compared to releases from the last decade. Every character is unique and brings a real human touch to the land of the dead. Tony Plana is excellent as Manny, making him one of the most realized and sympathetic characters in gaming history.


I did have an issue with the game freezing and shutting down on me. Normally I can deal with, but in this case I lost over an hour of progress. Why? Because the game does not employ an autosave feature, forcing you to save manually. The way I use my Vita is that a game is often running on it for days while I play here and there, and I generally rely on the autosave systems. So when it crashed, I lost a ton of progress. This is not a deal breaker (since it was partially my fault for not saving before), but do be aware that frequent saving is a must.

The game has a plethora of trophies (48 to be exact) including 2 gold, 7 silver and a Platinum Trophy! The trophies are integrated so well into the game, and most are unlocked through having conversations with the characters and talking with them until there is nothing left to say. And some trophies are more unique. The best and most devilish one is called “The Right Way.” I’ll just leave the description here because it is too good: “Play the whole game with tank controls. Tim demanded this trophy.”

Grim Fandango is one of the best games of all time, and this Remastered release keeps it alive for a new generation. It updates the game as a modern classic so that people now can enjoy a masterpiece instead of just hearing about it on top 10 lists. I had some small issues with the game, but they are small issues on an almost perfect game. If you haven’t played this, please do since its part of your gamer education. Now let’s bring on Day of the Tentacle Remastered!

[review pros=”Beautiful Remaster of one of the best games ever
Still as hard as I remember it
The story and voice work help tell a compelling tale” cons=”An optional hint system would be good for newcomers
The widescreen doesn’t look great
Lack of an autosave could lead to some frustration” score=95]

Cost: $14.99

PS Vita Game size: 3.1 GB

You can purchase Grim Fandango Remastered from the PSN Store


This review is based on a PS Vita copy of Grim Fandango Remastered provided by Double Fine.

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