Grim Fandango

aka: Deeds of the Dead

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 91% (based on 56 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 405 ratings with 23 reviews)

Swan song in the afterlife

The Good
LucasArts brought joy and excitement to adventure fans during their most dominant era - the early 1990's. However, like many other genres, adventure games underwent a crisis during the troublesome second half of the decade; unlike some other genres, they never truly recovered. I think that LucasArts' own output during that time was inferior to what they have achieved before. That is, with the exception of one game, where the company's creativity suddenly broke out with unseen power - only to be silenced for good afterwards.

Grim Fandango can be described in three words: hardcore classical adventure. Which means that it does not follow the fashionable route of Myst, nor does it dumb down gameplay in favor of long cutscenes and whatever else the dramatization of the genre has brought with it. This game has puzzles, and many of them are tough - but, with a few exceptions, they aren't abstract; they are organically woven into the game's texture, inseparable from its world. It is not one of those games that throws thousands of puzzles at you without giving you any clues - no, the clues are there, yet due to their sheer complexity, the puzzles are often difficult to solve. Being a very large game, it also demands a lot of concentration from the player.

Grim Fandango follows the classic LucasArts rule (no dying, no getting stuck), and the amount of experimenting with items is somewhat reduced by the inability to combine items within your inventory - but do not think for a second that this makes the game any easier. Typical inventory-based puzzles are relatively rare compared to complex machinery-oriented tasks you'll encounter in many parts of the game. But the strength of its puzzle design lies in the fact that those puzzles are neither isolated nor self-sufficient. There is still plenty of fun item-collecting from the good old comedy days, and rich dialogue branches to explore. In short, there is variety and challenge - two essential components of good game design.

Grim Fandango is a large game - both in terms of longevity and the size of its world. The developers struck a perfect balance between free-form exploration and focused advancement, giving us generous playable areas that take a while to complete, but also changing the scenery drastically in each of its several long chapters. Thus, the game avoids both the radical streamlining of Full Throttle and the monotonous hub-exploration of The Dig. The sheer magnitude of its world reminded me of Zak McKracken - of all LucasArts adventures, these two are the only ones I would describe as "epic".

The game's world is a stylish masterpiece possibly surpassing everything the company has done before in pure artistic value. I have never seen its main stylistic components united in the same work - let alone in such a seamless and convincing fashion. Whoever first came up with the bizarre idea of mixing film noir with Art Deco and Mexican mythology deserves a special prize in a competition for original settings. Even a weaker game would be worth checking out just thanks to the unique world.

This world has been carefully crafted in meticulous detail, turning simple office rooms into chef-d'oeuvres of visual design. Colors, angles, decorations, architecture, furniture, character faces, street lamps - everything is recreated with almost decadent opulence, brilliantly reflecting the main themes of the game's story. The pre-rendered backgrounds are splendidly rich and colorful, and well-animated 3D character models are combined with them immaculately. In general, Grim Fandango is one of the most lavishly presented adventure games of all times.

Grim Fandango also has one of the best stories ever to grace an adventure game. In a world where this genre has been firmly associated either with lighthearted comedy or the enigmatic vagueness of Myst-like impressionist style, Grim Fandango rises with its gripping plot full of intrigues, corruption, romance, and much more. It is world-embracing, intimate, touching, complex, and emotional. The most remarkable aspect of this story is that it depicts several years of the hero's life (or, in this case, life after death). While most games usually describe only a short episode they consider noteworthy, Grim Fandango draws all the right conclusions from its structure and weaves an epic tale with all its heights and lows, showing how time changes people and things, and how easy it is for us to gain or lose everything we have.

There are plenty of locations in the game, and most of them are original and memorable - the port city Rubacava with its casinos, luxury hotels, mafia bosses, and tattoo parlors, the depths of the sea, the mountains, etc. All those locations are extremely detailed and filled with people and objects, so that a strange melancholic and even nostalgic feeling envelops the player - it is just like real life, yet the real life is so far away. Yet at the same time the game is endearingly humorous. It liberally pays homage to film noir, crime novels, and other literary and cinematic styles with a dedicated realism that intensifies the dark comic effect: the supposedly desolate, mysterious afterlife turns out to resemble our world in everything - particularly in sin. Who could help smiling watching the scene where Meche removes her stockings in a perfectly captured "femme fatale" style?..

Grim Fandango is full of characters, and most of them are singularly memorable. The protagonist himself truly grows as a person - initially not particularly reliable, even a bit of a crook, Manny is gradually revealed as a courageous person, able to love deeply and without compromises. The lovable demon Glotis provides mild comic relief, but he is also a great friend with a magnanimous soul - a seemingly excellent pianist as well. I have rarely seen an adventure game with so many characters, each occupying a relatively important spot in the rich tapestry of the story.

The Bad
I wasn't as offended by the interface as some other fans of point-and-click adventures, but I can't say I liked it. You can only interact with an object if you physically approach it, at which point Manny will tilt his head in the general direction. This means you'll have to run around a lot in a busy environment, which doesn't fit the pace of adventure gameplay. Camera angles change frequently, and keyboard-based character navigation is uncomfortable no matter whether you choose the camera- or the character-dependent control scheme. I don't quite see why it was impossible to use the mouse for movement and cursor-based interaction.

Grim Fandango is highly creative, and yet there was a tiny something in the gameplay where symptoms of crisis in adventure game design could be felt. I welcomed the high difficulty level, but a few puzzles were tricky in an illogical and somewhat contrived sense - I felt that there was rather too much precision required to solve them. Then again, it is infinitely preferable to simplifying the gameplay, and luckily for the most part they balanced the puzzle difficulty remarkably well.

The Bottom Line
It was a long way from Maniac Mansion to Grim Fandango, a glorious road decorated by quite a few masterpieces. Born within a crisis that has befallen its creators and the adventure genre in general, Grim Fandango is one of LucasArts' best offerings. It is the most mature and complete manifestation of their design philosophy and a fitting epitaph to their work, a powerful final chord crowning their beautiful symphony.

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (180489) · 2014

A gem so flawless, you need an electron microscope to see its flaws.

The Good
I am never one to exaggerate when I praise games. When I play a game, I note why it is good, why I enjoyed it, and what few things marred the experience for me, being extremely careful not to use any hyperbole that I will later regret. Same with games I don't like. I'm careful not to make the mistake of exaggeration again after I bashed Half-Life for ridiculous reasons so many years ago, simply because I didn't feel it was the greatest game ever made (I replaced that review with a better one two years after). But essentially what I say is that I will be the last person to exaggerate how good or bad a game is these days.

The reason I tell you this is because after playing Grim Fandango multiple times over the course of the last three years, I will come up to anyone with a completely straight face, without any doubt in my mind, that it is the single greatest game I have ever played in my entire life.

I've stood by that claim for three years now. Other games have come into my heart, but situated themselves firmly below Grim rather than unseating it in my mind. It is the single piece of literature (yes, I called a game "literature") that has touched me more than anything. I say this all without any hesitation whatsoever, and I will tell you why.

In an afterlife world inspired by Aztec and Mexican mythology, you play as Manny Calavera, a dead man who wants nothing more than to move on to his next life. But something he did in life got him stuck doing community service for the Department of Death, an organization that helps newly dead souls find their way across the Land of the Dead until they reach the Land of Eternal Rest, a four year journey that is more luxurious for those who have lived good, selfless lives. All of the above, excluding the Department of Death, is true to the Aztec myths that inspired it.

At the DOD, Manny works as a travel agent, picking up new clients at the spot of their death and giving them travel packages that they qualify for. Unfortunately, Manny is conspicuously getting a large amount of clients who were apparently cruel people in life, while his colleague Domino is getting all the premium, saintly ones. Without any premium sales, Manny is unlikely to get out of the DOD any time soon.

However, when Manny steals a humanitarian client, Meche, from under Domino's nose, he finds that she qualifies for the same meager package as the others. This discovery draws Manny into a web of corruption, and the mysterious resistance group that is trying to fight it.

Over four years, you guide Manny throughout the Land of the Dead, and with the help of his demonic driver, Glottis, you will uncover one of the best stories that interactive entertainment has to offer. You will feel like you're inside a noir-ish thriller from beginning to end, except when you're laughing hysterically at Tim Schaefer's hilarious writing. Then it feels like a comedy, which is even funnier if you know Spanish. Because of the Latin American theme, many things have some pretty ridiculous Spanish names, such as the town of Puerto Zapato (Port Shoe). The puzzles are relatively easy for experienced gamers, but a good enough walkthrough doesn't prevent you from appreciating the excellent story.

Graphically, the game excels as well. Despite the fact that the 3D models have a lower polygon count than those in recent games, the visual style is breathtaking. Excellent prerendered backgrounds add to the eye candy, and are full of variety in their art style. The graphics combine themselves with excellent sound effects and catchy Latin music, which make this game a treat for your ears as well.

To round it all up, the game has world class voice actors behind the characters. Tony Plana (actor/director of "Resurrection Blvd") does an amazing job as Manny, on both the comedic and dramatic fronts, and is supported excellently by Maria Canals (you may know her as Hawkgirl from the recent Justice League TV series) in the role of Meche. The other actors, including Alan Blumenfield as Glottis, Patrick Dollaghan as Domino, and Sal Lopez as revolutionary leader Salvador Limones, are unfortunately B-list celebrities at best, which is despicable. These people should be in lead roles of movies. (Note: If I didn't include one of the voice actors, that in no way means they're not good enough to be worth mentioning. Everyone is outstanding.)

The Bad
Grim's plot, however, as careful as Schafer was to make it consistent, has a few minor, teeny tiny, barely even noticeable continuity errors in the early part of the game. After playing through it three times, I didn't even notice them until reading about them on a fan site. So unless you stop every five minutes to make an in-depth analysis of what you've just played, you won't notice anything your first time through.

The lip-syncing animations are also slightly ugly. But it was 1998, and LucasArts wanted to run the game on a Pentium 133, so give the game a break.

And, as many people have noted, the game is controlled with the keyboard, and there is no interface at all. Whatsoever. Normally, this works phenomenally. But at some points it's hard to maneuver Manny in the right place to use a particular object.

Oh, and one of the puzzles involving a couple of anchors is a bit Myst-like in terms of its obscurity. But don't let that deter you. Please don't.

The Bottom Line
Normally, I give games a score out of 10000 points, writing one or two sentences about 10 categories that I rate it on. But not this time. It would be a waste of words, because all you need to know is that you must play this game. There is absolutely nothing I can think of that would prevent any rational gamer from enjoying this, other than racism against Latinos, which is just stupid.

You know what? You see that whole section under "The Bad?" Disregard it. It's there, but don't pay attention to it. I tried very, very hard to come up with those four tiny flaws, because this game is just so damn perfect that once you get into it, anything that could possibly displease you about it is wiped away. Buy this game. You'll love yourself for it.

Windows · by Zack Green (1160) · 2005

Excellent modern adventure

The Good
At a time when it seems as if Lucasarts-style adventures were on the way out, 'Grim Fandango' absolutely wobbles with quality. Not so much an adventure as a proper interactive movie, it combines some amusing puzzles with excellent writing and voice acting, and typically surreal Lucasarts humour. What other game allows you to deliver interactive jazz poetry? Featuring an noir-ish storyline set in the land of the dead (a kind of half-way house between the land of the living and the afterlife), you play a supernatural 'travel agent', a man who must seek out the souls of the newly-departed, and sell them travel packages to ease their passage into the next world. Borrowing liberally from 'Touch of Evil', 'Double Indeminity', 'Casablanca' and 'The Maltese Falcon', the game makes the surreal, Mexican-folklore-influenced world work and seem alive, filled with characters who also seem real. A combination of top-notch visual acting and some excellent voicing give the characters life, and even the supporting seem to have had effort put into them. It's light-years away from the awfulness of most computer game acting ('Resident Evil' springs to mind), and should make other games designers feel angry and unfulfilled. There's some great latin music, too, with more pan-pipes than you ever though you would hear in your life. The plot seems to be over all too soon. You can still buy this at full-price in some shops, and it's worth every penny.

The Bad
There isn't much to not like. The odd perspectives sometimes hinder your navigation, and it's too easy to run into walls and slide off when in fact you wanted to go through a door. Furthermore, two of the puzzles require non-obvious pixel-perfect positioning (you'll know them when you get to them). Apart from that, this game is perfect.

The Bottom Line
Excellent modern adventure with a bizarre setting, and alcoholism!

Windows · by Ashley Pomeroy (225) · 2000

About as close to an actual film as a video game will ever get

The Good
Everything.The extraordinary storyline,the clever humour,the great jazz music,the excellent voice music,the amazing graphics,and just about anything else you can think of.

The Bad
I had a small problem with the control but nothing is perfect.But this,comes awfully close.

The Bottom Line
The smartest,funnest and most rewarding game that you can find currently on the PC market.Unless their's an excellent sequel,this will reign supreme for a long time.

Windows · by SamandMax (75) · 2001

Hola, Viva La Revolucion!!!

The Good
Good graphics - 10 year later still the graphics are good and smooth for an adventure game, in which the graphics are not the primary important thing for the genre. Great story and great story telling, unique characters, clever puzzles, good reflection of the Mexican culture. Voice acting is great, especially Manny's. Music is delicious and harmonic with the atmosphere of the game (do something good for yourself, also buy the soundtrack album with the game) There are lots of things to say about this game because overall this is a wonderful piece of art.

The Bad
Is that a joke? How can I find something to dislike about this game? Well ok let me try; I think the keyboard based control system sucks a little bit.

The Bottom Line
Grim Fandango is a Lucas Arts classic, featuring all the classical Lucas Arts elements. I think this is the greatest adventure game of all times. A must-play.

Windows · by kulke (1) · 2008

Unlike any adventure game to date: Guaranteed

The Good
Tim Schafer. Day of the Tentacle was great, and Grim Fandango is his best work thus far. Fandango's humor is unmatched. I played through it twice to make sure I heard all of the possible dialogue choices.

Fandango's real strength comes from being able to be consistently funny, while still maintaining a sense of gravity, allowing serious situations to seem truly serious, and evil characters are as nasty as they need be. The dark, gritty presentation of the game is superb. Manny Calavera, the Grim Reaper for the Dept. of Death Is a smooth Bogart-esque character who gets the job done, and in one part of the game you own a nightclub, very similar to a certain gin-joint owned by certain Mr. Rick, complete with gambling tables, a French military man, and a wheezy little Peter Lorre. Watch Casablanca, then play Year 2 of this game and it will seem even funnier.

The Bad
There isn't a sequel...not that there really could be one...I guess my real gripe is that Schafer hasn't done anything since Grim Fandango.

The Bottom Line
A mysterious adventure set in the Land of the Dead that's as good as any Bogart movie, and even better than a few of them.

Windows · by MA17 (252) · 2000

Lucasarts have done it again!

The Good
There is almost too much to say about this game so to summerize...

The graphics are well made, they have a unique mix of film noir and Mexican looks. The music fits the mood of the game, as it is a mix of Mexican and 40s and 50s styles. The characters are well designed and are well mixed, each one seems to have their own personallities. There is just too much to say since Lucasarts know how to make games.

The Bad
Because of the change from mouse control to keyboard, some devoted Lucasarts fans might get put off this and game. Also after you complete the game you wish you could get to know the characters so more.

The Bottom Line
A great game, that's all that needs to be said...Lucasarts have created another great game that is perfect for adventure gamers and normal gamers alike

Windows · by Grant McLellan (584) · 2001

Living in the land of Dead

The Good
Grim Fandango is an excellent game, the graphics are so good, and the plot is simply fantastic. If you are an adventure lover, here you will find everything that you ever wanted:graphics? Even the backgrounds seem to be planned until the further details. Story? You will find an excellent plot here, while you help Manny to find the truth in the Land Of Dead. Puzzles? Yes, like in almost every good adventure, there are a lot of things that will make you guess and think to solve them.

The Bad
At first you will find yourself a little frustrated trying to move Manny, but once you get used to it, it will be very easy. And you cannot play it under Windows 2000, unless you download a patch for this SO from the people of Microsoft.

The Bottom Line
Once again, the people from LucasArts surprise us with a game that makes a big step in Adventure games.

Windows · by Emepol (212) · 2011

Atmospheric, stylish, beautiful - great adventure!

The Good
There's one scene in the game, where you stand on the ceiling of your own club and look at the town, where you are. This was one of the most beautiful, calm moments in my computer games-history. Just beautiful, as you'd be there. And then, the story of GF is so weird, the characters so cute, the settings detailled and the music perfect - love it or leave it! :)

The Bad
Some puzzles are a bit too difficult - you has to do stuff, you wouldn't do - and you'll find out, what to do, by pure trial & error... Then, the controls are a bit odd from time to time.

The Bottom Line
Classical point&click adventure + film noir + cuba + casablanca + surrealism + black humor + love = a wonderful, intelligent game!

But be careful - one couldn't like it, because of: film noir + cuba + casablanca + surrealism + black humor + love ;)

Windows · by Felix Knoke (149) · 2003

Grim Fandango is one of those games you love or haven't played

The Good
What did I like about Grim? Well to be perfectly honest, I liked everything. Everything about the game is perfect, the characters, the story line, the puzzles are puzzling, but not blindingly obvious or mind numbingly difficult, and the music! Don't even get me started on the music, I downloaded all three songs that you can get from the home page, they're all origianl, and well, brilliant! - I like the fact that when you talk to people who have playefd the game they can say "Hey do you remember the bit where...." and you totally understand what they're talking about and can have lenghty talks on the game. - I like the fact you can play it over and over and not get tired of it (heaven forbid) - I like the way you can identify with each of the characters - I like the little details that have been added, for example, when your at the Cat racing stadium, you can stand by the balcony (where if you go to near Manny says "No, that jump wouldn't do it") and listen to the cat races, each is different, and has some witty comment in it, brilliant.

The Bad
What I didn't like about Grim was the rating this site has given it (4.2) I think it deserves higher, 4.7 at least. But don't take my word for it, play the game yourselves.

The Bottom Line
This game is a "Must Have" piece of gaming history,

Windows · by David Lafferty (11) · 2003

Wow, worth the hype, worth all the money!

The Good
I like the humor in the game, some things are laugh out loud, some you may only understand 10 minutes later. The cuts scenes are very good quality, they come quite frequently breaking up the game into smaller segments. Manny's voice - it seems strange but if the main characters voice got on your nerves you would not play, but Manny (main character) is alright, quite pathetic, I sometimes feel sorry for him. The storyline is engaging right from the start, Get a good case in the department of death or your fired! I like the land of the living, it is more surreal than i first thought, you have to see it.

The Bad
Using the keyboard, I never play games like this, finding things in the game world is quite hard. It took a while to get the hang of it, but there is a control menu to help learn them. Getting stuck, once you are stuck you are very likely to stay that way as talking to characters for inspirations certainly does not help unless you need to do something with them directly. Camera angles are very tomb raider style, i got lost in them somethings are hidden from view.

The Bottom Line
It's great, not for a total puzzle game beginner though. Pleasure to the eyes and ears, You need brains and finger dexterity.

Windows · by Gemmalah (6) · 2003

Ultra stylish epic, and the beauty is more than skin-deep.

The Good
Pretty much the whole thing. Superb presentation backed up with some of the best graphics in an adventure game to date. Glorious cut-scenes with beautiful sweeping camera angles, giving the game a more cinematic and film-like quality than any other game I've ever seen. Terrific characterization, to the extent where you can tell the rudimentary personality of some of the characters after about 2 lines of dialogue. The puzzles are rock-hard! Just the way they should be. Many require deep lateral thinking as well, especially later in the game. There are many deep and varied locations to visit, including the fantastic gambling port-side town Rubacava, and on the bottom of the sea bed. Our hero, Manuel Calavera, oozes charisma and charm making him a joy to control. The atmosphere is believable and immersive. Oh, and it also has the world's best soundtrack. It is Lucasarts and everything, so you can expect this to some degree. But it blends forms of Jazz with Mexican folk music in a seamless way as if the two were born to go with each other. This leads nicely onto the art work and whole theme of the game which once again, blends film noir with Mexican folklore with art-deco. If you want any proof of the incredible attention to detail and professional quality of it all, look in the inside of the CD case.

The Bad
If you're a novice when it comes to adventure games then this will take you some time. Admittingly, some of the puzzles are a bit dodgy and unrealistic. For example, the one on the roof of the Department Of Death building in the first quarter of the game. You may find the game boring as well, like someone I know. In which case see a psychiatrist.

The Bottom Line
This is how adventure games should be done. Proof that money equals results. Not to mention it's by that virtuoso games designer Tim Schafer. This one drips class. Go buy.

Windows · by Shazbut (163) · 2002

The greatest game ever

The Good
This game has an amazing story-line. It works perfectly, and as you go through the game, you keep discovering new things which just add to the plot, and make it even more in-depth.

The backgrounds are top-notch, still looking great even today. They are pre-rendered scenes, which look very realistic. The characters are well animated, but they look a little dated, with low poly count and low res textures. The pre-rendered cutscenes also look amazing, and are full of action.

The puzzles are also great. They all make sense, and work well together. The dialogue is also great, with humorous jokes packed in along the way. The voice actors are also great, and they fit the characters perfectly.

The music fits right in with the amazing atmosphere, and it is composed really well.

All of these factors put together make the game absolutely amazing.

The Bad
The only downside of this game is that the graphics on the characters are getting a little dated. They have a low poly count, and low res textures by todays standards. But it isn't that bad - the game is still perfectly playable, and you hardly notice the bad characters.

The Bottom Line
This game is amazing. The plot is huge, and it completely sucks you in. I love this game so much, that I have replayed it countless times, have made a website dedicated to it, and I always visit my favourite Grim Fandango forums. This game is outstanding, and better than any other game. If you play it, I can almost guarantee that you will love it.

Windows · by James Isaac (239) · 2006

Extraordinary game!

The Good
The game is superb. A true example of what may be accomplished in the domain of, dare I say it, art. Stunning graphics, smooth animations, breathtaking sound-track, witty dialogue, it has it all. Now, I shall make points about how MAT is oh so wrong:

1.) "Graphic was about to be funny to us players, huh? They did it on purpose, and they actually thought we could like that ... Imagine every character's head like a rectangle with a certain depth, and face made like with a few coal lines. "

If you actually READ the manual, you would know that they were meant to look like "Calaveras", dolls used during the Day of the Dead festival to symbolize deceased relatives. And though the vertices were clearly defined, it looked right. And be glad they could get such detailed expressions with those "coal lines".


"...just for the records, your driver was like two times bigger than the car he's driving. It could seem funny, but very soon it becomes stupidly annoying..."

Again, you miss the point. Thats one of the reasons why we like Glottis. He's big. Its not necessarily funny, nor was it intended to be. Its ironic. He's a Demon who's only purpose is to drive, and he has to hack apart a car to fit in it. Hence, irony. And, his personality wouldn't really work if he were smaller. In fact, I can think of only two gags in which his size is the main factor: when he pops out of his work shed in the beggining, and {SPOILER} at the end when he hugs and nearly suffocates (uh, I guess thats not an issue) Manny.


"...the game would be much more funnier or interesting if the skeletons (and that includes all the characters) looks more vicious, like the one from Diablo or some AD&D games..."

They aren't supposed to be "vicious". Again, see No. 1 for some specifics about the art. The characters are made to be charismatic. The idea is to identify with them, explore their personality and watch as they develop and grow. You need to feel Manny's frustration, Glottis vehicle obsession, Meche's abandonment, Hector's ruthlesness, etc. These aren't static characters.


"...Way to go Lucas! You drove your best customers crazy and mad..."

I don't agree with that.

The Bad
The one flaw is the two puzzles that require complete precision. However, once you learn the trick, it becomes immensley easy. Every rose has it's thorns.

The Bottom Line
This is not a request. This is an order. Get the game. Now. Run, don't walk. If you alreay have the game, buy another copy and display it on your mantle.

The game is marvelous.

*Though the review has been quoted and edited (using ...) nothing has been ommitted or added in the used sections. The author will probably hate me now, but I figure I could use some more enemys.

Windows · by Fakey McFake (3) · 2003

If video games really are art, this is the greatest game ever made.

The Good
Grim Fandango features a production value higher than almost any game ever made. The story, voice acting, and art are so consistently brilliant that it gives on pause to consider that a game like this could never be made in the current gaming industry. This was a rare gem, a masterpiece of creativity that came at just the right time.

The story is amazingly well done. Tim Burton couldn't have delivered it better with his stop-motion, as the epic saga of Manny Calavera is delivered with nuance and humor. I have played this game numerous times through, and every time I get a little emotional at the end. It's just that well done, and the characters are so alive, even if they're dead.

The art is excellently done, with a variety of styles convincingly executed, albeit all within the overall motif of the game. While the characters themselves are low-res, this is not the result of any lack of vision, but of the technology available, and likely, the monetary support of Lucasarts.

Grim also features the best voice acting I've yet seen in a game. The use of real actors (Manny is voiced by the guy who played El Guapo's sidekick in "The Three Amigos") adds so much to the experience.

The gameplay itself is typical adventure fare, well executed. The puzzles are intelligent, but not overwrought or bizarre. Mostly, they serve to pace the wonderful storyline.

Also, the music was fantastic, featuring a variety of genres and instruments, all composed for the game and featured at precisely the right moment.

The Bad
The control scheme leaves something to be desired, and the puzzles aren't always intuitive. Sometimes you have to bang your head against the wall to come up with a solution to a few of them.

There were some technical glitches that were fixed with a later patch.

The Bottom Line
Grim Fandango is ultimately a story. It is a game which anyone could enjoy, or at least anyone who appreciates storytelling and human drama. It is a story of redemption, and it is beautifully delivered in the format of a video game.

Windows · by kyuzo (18) · 2006

Truly the Greatest Adventure

The Good
No other adventure game, with the exception of Gabriel Knight: Beast Within, even comes close to the wonderful writing of Grim Fandango. This script would play fantastically as a movie. The voice acting is leaps and bounds above your normal video game quality.

Location designs are breath-taking. Interesting perspectives and area layouts make for always-engaging exploration.

The puzzles in this game are also a credit to the designers. Every puzzle has a place in moving the plot. Gamers never have to endure the endless key and lock searches that other games depend on.

The Bad
Some odd clipping problems are noticeable. The controls, especially when entering elevators, are a little annoying.

The Bottom Line
A must-play for any true adventure game fan.

Windows · by Game22 (35) · 2004

Move over Monkey Island ... here comes the new adventure king

The Good
Let's just say that any adventure game developed by the people that created the highly entertaining Monkey Island series will always be a classic. Thank God, then, that Grim Fandango proved me right.

I don't think I've ever played a game with such an enjoyable storyline. It seems that everything is packed into it, yet it works so well. And thanks to many years of Monkey Island madness, playing the game itself was just as enjoyable. And the style of the game really is amazing, from the crisp and detailed graphics to the funny dialogue and character development. It really is a gem of a game.

The Bad
The fact that it still didn't impact the way I was hoping. Such a huge game has been followed up by little in the way of future Adventure games (apart from another LucasArts title, Escape from Monkey Island). I just wish that other developers would take the same risk that LucasArts have made so many times. They have never failed.

The Bottom Line
Be glad, all adventure fans, that George Lucas built LucasArts. If they never lived, gamer world wide would have missed out on possibly the greatest advanture game of all time. In fact, they would have missed out on 5 of the best games of all time (possibly 6, if another Monkey Island goes ahead).

Grim Fandango is pure art. Everything is just so right.

Windows · by Kartanym (12382) · 2006

A nice long adventure game...too bad it's 3D

The Good
The game has a very original and interesting plot... The voice acting is really great...the game is also very funny in a dark, sarcastic kinda way...

The Bad
3D Killed the adventure game star.......that's all I have to say about 3D animations in adventure games...besides, the interface is not comfortable because you don't really know what objects you can interact with, although Manny is looking at the objects when he's passing by them... you don't really know what he's looking at... ( the problem with this interface was solved in Monkey Island 4, there LucasArts wrote at the bottom of each screen the objects and people you can interact with )

The Bottom Line
A funny and cool adventure game, if you don't mind the 3D graphics, you'll have a blast !!!

Windows · by Daniel Albu (248) · 2003

"I Am More Than Dead"

The Good
In 1997, LucasArts released, what is considered by many to be it’s finest game, Grim Fandango. From the twisted mind of Tim Schafer. The genius who brought us other gems of gaming such as: Full Throttle, and the recent, Psychonauts. An adventure game harkening back to the days of old. Grim Fandango is a fun and hilarious game. But how does it compare to the classics?

“An Epic Tale Of Crime And Corruption In The Land Of The Dead”

In Grim Fandango, players assume the role of Manny Calavera. He is stuck in between Heaven and Earth, in the land of the dead, a sort of purgatory. Working for the DOD, or Department Of The Dead, where he takes the recently deceased and sells them travel packages. The more virtuous a soul was in life, the better packages they earn. From a walking stick, to the ultimate, a ticket of the #9. A luxurious train that takes it’s passengers to the afterlife in style.

On one particular Day Of The Dead,( a Hispanic holiday in which deceased family members are honored.) we find that Manny is in a rut. He was once the DOD’s top agent. Now the only clients that he qualifies for were scumbags in life. This only serves to make Manny spend more time in purgatory. (The better clients, and the more # 9 tickets an agent sells, the quicker they can move on to heaven or hell.) On this fateful day Manny meets Meche. When he cannot find a good travel package for her, she wanders off. Manny then begins to uncover a conspiracy to steal the tickets of honest souls, and use them to gain wealth. From here Manny will set off on a four year journey, to find Meche, and set things right.

Manny: “I’m gonna go. That sound makes me want to kill someone.” Clown: “You two?”

The world of Grim Fandango is a very unique and interesting one. The sights and sounds are inspired by Aztec and other Hispanic design. The land of the dead looks interesting. And is filled with many wacky characters.(My favorite side characters is the Angry Clown, you meet in Year One;) And the inhabitants of the world seem real due to the excellent graphics and voice acting.

The script is also well written. And filled with jokes. Humor is often hard to pull of in a video game, but in Grim Fandango, it is pulled of every time.(I suspect that Tim Schafer got his comedic timing down during his years writing for the Monkey Island series.)

Most games fail, to make the world seen believable. Grim Fandango does not stumble here.

“Can You See What I’m Smelling?”

The Graphics in Grim Fandango are just as sharp and clean as they were ten years ago. Either with or without a 3D card. As you can set the game to use software rendering.(One of the few games with this option.) The pre-rendered visuals are some of the best of the era. And the often photo-realistic backdrops still look gorgeous.

The polygonal inhabitants of the game look great as well. Better with a 3D card, as it smoothes out the edges, and gives everything a clean look, with no jaggies.

“Ohh Ohh Ohh, Bonewagoooon,” -Glottis, The Bonewagon Song-

The music in Grim Fandango is excellent. The music fit’s the game very well and is inspired. Off the top of my head I can’t think of a track I don’t like. It’s that good.

The voice acting is also excellent. Since timing is so important in comedy. A lot of the funniest parts of the game are thanks to the great voice work of the cast. Some you may recognize from other games/TV shows. The voice acting in this game is better than that of most TV shows(particularly anime) and some animated movies!

“Is it you, or am I you?”-The Collected Poems of Manuel Calavera-

It may disappoint some to find, that the controls of Grim Fandango, are not the standard mouse based.(Therefore, Grim Fandango, is not a point and click, as some have called it.) But once you learn the controls of the game, I think you will find that they are just as good, if not better than mouse based adventure games of old.

You use the directional keys to move around, and scroll through your inventory. There are even quick keys to pull out crucial items, such as a Manny’s scythe.

The controls can also be changed to suit the camera settings. Either camera relative. That is to say fixed camera angles. Or Character relative, which as I am sure you have surmised is based on Manny’s movements. I prefer the camera relative.

The Bad
Well the game can take a bit of work to get it up and running of Windows XP.

And I don’t really care for Year 3. It just felt lacking.

The Bottom Line
“Clambake!”-The Collected Poems of Manuel Calavera-

Grim Fandango is one of the best Adventure games every made. Perhaps the best. It is such a well made game and filled with the most hilarious moments in the history of video games. I love the part in Year 2, when at the beatnik bar you can read poems, the sillier, the better.(And any parody of bad poetry is automatically funny.)

And in the end it is simply one of the best games ever made. Fans of adventure games owe it to themselves to play this one. And fans of games in general.

Windows · by MasterMegid (723) · 2007

A great game with some minor flaws

The Good
Graphically this game was quite cutting edge at the time. I just finished it in 2004, quite some time after it's 1998 release, yet it didn't seem particularly dated. This is a commendable achievement that few games can claim. Part of what makes the graphics remain fresh to this day is the creative and interesting scenes you find yourself in throughout the game. There is a consistent neo-aztec feel to the architecture which is quite cool and has yet to be recreated to such an extent. Additionally, there is a consistent lack of repetition in the environments that modern games could learn alot from. The character models are varied and full of character. It's amazing to me how much personality the designers put on a skeleton's face.

The sound in the game is quite nice as well. The music fits the various environments quite well, the sound effects are great, and the voice acting is superb throughout. Some of the best voice acting I've heard in a game actually. The conversations are crass and entertaining. The sound helps immerse you which is necessary for third-person adventure games. The sounds all suit the events that they are matched too, which is another thing modern games could learn from.

The gameplay is pretty good for the most part, though see below for some complaints. Character control is through the keyboard, as was common in that day and age. It is, of course, and adventure game, which means the challenge in the game is figuring out what it is you're supposed to do. I must admit I'm crap at adventure games and I always need a walkthrough of some kind, but even with this handicap, I found that the tasks you're supposed to engage in are logical about 50% of the time. It IS difficult at times to see what items you're supposed to manipulate. If there is any weakness to this game, it's in the gameplay.

The story is superb. I found myself enjoying the main character immediately, which is yet ANOTHER thing modern games could learn from. It's a compelling story, the characters are quite humorous, and above all, it's an enjoyable story. Sometimes the conversations lead to confusion about what one is supposed to do, but at all times your 'main' goal is clear. I play adventure games for the plot alone, and I was quite impressed by this one. It's not an epic-hero story, unlike most RPG's and some action games, which is a nice change. It's a fun, engaging detective story that I think everyone can enjoy.

The Bad
The only weakness in this game is in the gameplay. A good 50% of the puzzle solutions are absolutely obscure. The decision of which inventory item to use where and when is quite frequently illogical in my opinion. This could be because I haven't the knack for adventure games, I grant that, however, I think there is a latent difficulty to this game that isn't due to my lack of cognitive capacity. This flaw is made worse by the difficulty in finding all of the necessary items to solve problems. This gets annoying quite quickly, but there are a myriad of walkthroughs available on the internet, as a simple google search will show. So while this flaw is noticeable, it's not a major problem to playing the game.

The Bottom Line
I would recommend it to anyone. It can be found for practically free from game vendors. It's got a wonderful plot and the characters are great. It's almost a perfect example of how good a game can be. I was even more impressed for the fact that i'm not usually an adventure gamer. This is a 'must-play.'

Windows · by Marty Bonus (39) · 2004

Favourite Adventure game

The Good
Basically everything, from the creative story to the sharply defined characters. This game might seem long to some gamers, but once you start to play this masterpiece, it captures you into playing more. One of the great aspects of the game is the music, which like most adventure games music is a top contributing factor, I especially enjoyed Companeros from the Day of the Festival. Out of all the characters, Bruno was by far the funniest. I won't spoil the end, but the way in which you defeat Hector LeMans is surprising and unique.

The Bad
During one part of the game I've encountered a bug/glitch, when Manny picks up the huge heavy axe, his head disappeared only leaving the neck. Funny at first, uncomfortable the next.

The Bottom Line
A classic Adventure game.

Windows · by Everett Lamb (9) · 2004

Wow, I didn't think that the dead could talk

The Good
What an odd name Grim Fandango for a game is. I can understand the "Grim", because of the way all the characters look like little Grim Reapers, but with clothes on. "Fandango" is a Latin-American or Spanish dance, so if someone comes up to you and says "Do the Fandango", you'll know what they mean. And no, the plot is not about all the characters trying to out-perform each other in a dance contest.

After writing a negative review already, I decided to give this game another go. LucasArt's Grim Fandango tells the story of Manuel "Manny" Calavera, a travel agent who is employed by the Department of Death to sell travel packages to the dead on their way to the underworld. Unfortunately, one of his colleagues seem to get the best clients, and he suddenly has a bad reputation for not selling enough packages, and he is on the brink of getting fired from the job.

The game's description says that Grim is a masterpiece, and when I played the game all the way to the end, I can see why. The game is divided into four years, and each one of them contains marvellous 3D graphics. Every time I walked Manny between locations, I noticed how each of them is well designed, particularly the towns of El Marrow and Rubacava, LSA headquarters, the creepy petrified forest, and the coral mines where slaves do nothing but make lightbulbs for a living. The objects themselves look beautiful, and those that I found interesting to gawk at include the blimp that flies stationary over Rubacava (Too bad you cannot enter it.), the submarine and the octopus that guards it (The octopus looks scary as he keeps a close eye on you wherever you go.), and, most of all, the Number Nine train that carries people to the underworld.

The music and sound effects are nice. Most of the music inside the game is a combination of Spanish- and Mexican-style music. I prefer not to listen to this type of music, but I must say when a piece plays somewhere in the game, they reflect the situation that you are in, whether it is a love scene or running away from someone.

You control Manny's actions by using the keyboard to walk around and pick up and manipulate objects, and you will use the keyboard a lot. (Sorry, Grim uses LucasArt's new GrimE interface instead of the SCUMM interface used in earlier games, and due to restrictions on using the new interface, mouse support is just not possible). This means that you have to memorize at least ten commands, but they are easy to remember once you examined the help screen.

Whenever you accomplish something that is a requirement of the game, you will often watch a cut-scene. These cut-scenes look a lot detailed than the ones in earlier games, even those in The Dig is no match for those in Grim. And once you have viewed the cut-scene, you have the option of watching it again if it happens to be your favorite.

Like other adventure game should, you have the option of saving and loading games, and you can save as many games as you like and not worry about disk space, since each save game is just under 1MB. Me, not only do I like to save at any location that takes my breath away, but also at places where I could get myself in trouble. What is interesting about saving games is that at the top of the save/load game screens, a part of a painting is created to show you how much of Grim that you have completed. If you have many saved games, including the one where you are one step toward finishing the game, you can use the up and down arrow keys to quickly cycle between saved games to see how the painting is formed piece-by-piece.

There is a little bit of humor in the game. The things that Glottis, your demon partner, does is funny such as when he gets fired from his job and tells Manny that it is like that the DOD reached in and pulled his heart out, he actually does so and toss it in a spider's web, and this makes it rather difficult for Manny to release the heart from the web. Another highlight is going to the cat tracks in the second year and hearing the names of the cats that are competing, with names like "Hairball Surprise", "Smitten Kitten", "Meowy-Wowy", and "Kitty Kitty Bang-Bang".

The Bad
When I first submitted a review of this game, an approver told me "What??? I don't believe this. How could anyone find Grim Fandango boring?" Well, I meant that the game was boring the first time that I played it, but when I played it the second time, I found the game enjoyable. However, it is boring to have Manny take almost a minute to walk across the screen. I ended up holding down the [Shift] key to make him run from one place to the next. In fact, the walkthrough that I used to complete the game encouraged me to run rather than walk.

The Bottom Line
This game's install program has two types of installs: "Small" and "Large". My advice: Don't choose the "Large" option, unless you can wait for it to finish 20 minutes later. Grim Fandango comes on two CDs, but there was no need for the game to fit on a second CD, which is completely useless expect when you are installing the game.

Grim Fandango is a very good game with relaxing music and breathtaking 3D graphics, with a little bit of humor added to the mix, I believe that everyone (kids or adults) will find this game a joy to play.

Rating: ****

Windows · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2005

The BEST of LucasArts

The Good
Almost anything is great.
GFX, story line, characters, humor & most importantly the gameplay rules (but the controls are flawed).
It's also one of the funniest LucasArts games ever (as funny as Monkey Island,Sam & Max and DOTT)
So overall the game rules!

The Bad
Controls are the main problem here.
LucasArts should have worked a bit more on them.
But apart from that everything is perfect.

The Bottom Line
If you enjoyed MI, Full Throttle, DOTT,S&M, FOTA, and so...this is a MUST HAVE!!!
Definitely LucasArts' best.

Windows · by BlackNightmare (259) · 2004

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Alsy, Cantillon, Scaryfun, lights out party, Ghost Pirate, Tim Janssen, Veniceknight, kelmer44, Ascovel, Jeanne, Robert Huang, lobo rojo, Klaster_1, Parf, MAT, SlyDante, Plok, Gonchi, Apogee IV, Crawly, Wizo, Longwalker, Patrick Bregger, vedder, deepcut, Foxhack, eradix, yenruoj_tsegnol_eht (!!ihsoy), ti00rki, Riamus, Emmanuel de Chezelles, Mr Creosote, Solid Flamingo, Big John WV, oct.