After 102 reviews (I looked it up), I’ve developed a rhythm for my process. After spending my time playing the game, the last thing I do is make sure I’ve tried everything extra, like online play or play on other platforms. Usually it’s just a quick validation that everything there works like it’s supposed to; Grim Fandango is the first time I can remember my last hour with a game having such a negative impact on my impression of it. It left me feeling like I was playing Jenga – everything was ok as long as I did things exactly right and didn’t make any sudden movements.
Originally released by LucasArts in 1998, Grim Fandango is a point and click adventure game. Players get information through conversations with NPCs, and find and use items to progress. I started my playthrough on the Vita, where the remaster benefits from the handheld’s touchscreen. I could tap the screen to move my character or interact with objects, which was a good substitute for the original mouse driven gameplay.
Platforms: PS4, Vita (Cross-buy) and PC
Both platforms also support movement with the analog stick, which could be configured as either camera-relative or tank controls. I stuck with camera relative and had no issues, but the screen changes can be a little disorienting at first (like the original Devil May Cry). Actions like looking and interacting are mapped to different buttons on the controller, which worked very nicely.
I could switch from the original to remastered version on the fly while playing. On the Vita, aside from lighting changes the remaster simply looked like a less jaggy version of the original. On a TV though the difference was much more pronounced, and really made me appreciate how much smoother and cleaner the game was.
Unfortunately, getting between the Vita and PS4 was beyond cumbersome. The game appears to cloud save, but when viewing the saves on the other platform the listing didn’t update, even though I could see it was connecting to the server. If I remembered what slot I saved in I could choose that, and after some thinking the game would inform me that there was a more recent save in that slot and allow me to download it. At one point I had 3 saves on the Vita, and when I switched to the PS4 they eventually all showed up, but they were dated before I even started playing the game.
Going back to the Vita was even worse. After checking the save slot I used on the PS4 three times it finally caught on that there was a more recent save in the cloud and downloaded it – only to crash the game. I tried multiple times, even restarting the Vita in the process, and continued to get the same result. At some point while playing a piece of audio got stuck in a loop, and was showing up in saves on both platforms made before the loop started, so maybe I didn’t want those saves anymore anyways.
The unfortunate part of all this is I really like Grim Fandango. The setting and characters are very charming, and there’s a dry humor to the dialog that works really well. I found the optional director’s commentary cool, so I imagine people who actually played the game when it first came out will enjoy it as well. I want to recommend it, but the technical issues not only hampered my enjoyment of the game, at a certain point they completely prevented me from playing it. The core game is fun, but I would recommend sticking with one platform throughout and rotating save slots.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.