Grim Fandango Remastered (PS4/Vita): COMPLETED!

Interest started to wane the closer to the end I got. Puzzles continued to make less and less sense, and even the interest with following the plot was becoming difficult as it was taking longer and longer to solve the puzzles so the story was frequently put into stasis for long periods.

By the end it had become so drawn out I’d forgotten half the characters and the secretary, Meche and the woman from the hipster club all blurred into one. Then Celso appeared and confused me further. What I’m trying to say, is either have the great, funny story and a simpler or less difficult route to progress it, or stick with convoluted and obtuse puzzles and have an easier or more straightforward storyline. Or something.

Things were hampered further by playing the final year or two of the game on my Vita, where it crashed frequently leaving me stuck in scenery or completely kicking me out of the game. On another occasion I was supposed to pick up a grinder with a hand in it, but it wouldn’t let me until I’d quit the game and reloaded an earlier save. I’d also put down the Vita’s smaller, lower res screen (compared to the PS4, I mean) as cause of much annoyance when searching for a body in a meadow in the final section of the game – you can’t see a thing as everything is too small – but since I’d already had similar problems earlier on the PS4 (the sign in the wood bit) I can’t.

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Items generally were fiddly to deal with. There was no way of accurately “activating” scenery, so often looking for items or clues turned into a Duke Nukem secret room style search, only without the HNGH HNGH WHERE IS IT. It was so easy to miss things, even when I was being helped (I didn’t use a guide, but did have a hint FAQ and Twitter at my disposal) simply because things were virtually invisible or you had to be pixel perfect to use them correctly.  Could I not cut a rope with my scythe because I’m in the wrong place? Or I can but not yet? Or it isn’t time yet? That sort of thing. Even objects you’d managed to pick up were a pain to choose from your inventory as you have to cycle through them all in what appears to be random, and ever changing, order one at a time.

tumblr_o1s0jhbhcz1svmpf2o1_1280I suppose back in the late 90s on original release this interface and 3D graphics style were still in their infancy, and later similar games rectified things a little, but for a game almost universally acclaimed as a classic falls way short simply because of the unnecessarily clunky interface – ironically an interface that seems designed to do away with the unnecessarily clunky interface of earlier titles like Monkey Island with its verb/noun point and click system. It’s a shame they didn’t improve the input method when they improved the graphics for the Remastered version. Oh wait! They barely did that either. Aside from being slightly less jagged and with altered – but not necessarily better  – lighting, the different between old and new is barely perceptible. In fact, at one point I’d been playing it for over an hour after accidentally putting it on “classic” mode before I realised.

Still it was funny, and I did, mostly, enjoy it. I just can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that it’s nowhere near as fantastic as I’d been led to believe. Shame.

Grim Fandango Remastered (PS4)

_t__PS4share_httpst.coXWnvZYbI75Well, Rubacava was annoying. I had two main issues: the first was the disjointed way all the locations fit together (meaning I kept getting lost), and the second was how the hell was I supposed to know there were two ticket booths that look identical but one is sort of hidden and you can only progress if you use that one. Gah!

Some of the puzzles I nailed just fine, but others were frustrating in that I knew the solution but the chain of events to solve it I kept doing out of order. Some were totally random, like locking the waiter in the cupboard, and there’s no way in hell I’d have figured out the forklift in the lift solution without help from Twitter. Thanks Twitter!

_t__PS4share_httpst.coJfBmjnjqltAnyway, I’m done with that place, and after a trip in a boat (with a fun anchor puzzle) and some wandering around underwater, I’ve finally caught up with Meche! Although things are not going as well as I’d hoped, not least because Domino has apparently murdered Glottis. Boo!

If you want to catch up with my playthroughs, I’ve a couple of videos here (so you can see for yourself how lost I got):

Grim Fandango Remastered (PS4)

_t__PS4share_httpst.cokFBsL5Np0lHmm. Look, I’m really, really trying to like the game. I do, I think. But it keeps doing things that are awkward or unintuitive or just rubbish and I’m wondering if the story and the humour are the only reasons I’m still playing.

Good things from today’s session were the pigeon and teeth puzzles. Not too obvious, but both made sense and I managed them without help. With that I was able to leave the town and ended up in the forest.

There was a terrible puzzle in the forest, which involved moving a sign. The main problem with this puzzle being, well, this:

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Can you see what is going on? Or where I’ve put the sign? Or even where I am? No, I’m not the car. The sign is literally invisible. Once you put it down, you can’t see it any more and you have to remember where it is as you have to repeatedly put it down in different places.

After that, there’s a puzzle on a bony bridge which was a little vague (you have to extinguish flaming beavers – no really – but often your extinguisher does nothing to them, squirting through them) and now I’m in some sort of port town. Onward!

Grim Fandango Remastered (PS4)

Grim Fandango Remastered
Manny isn’t allowed to drive.

I never played Grim Fandango back in the day. I’m pretty sure I’d have enjoyed it then, as I liked Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion and those sorts of things, but for some reason it passed me by. It was, however, recently on PS+ so I’ve given it a go.

At least, I’ve tried to give it a go. I’m not sure if I’ve lost my touch or something, but I quickly got very lost. I had no idea what to do, or, once I’d figured out my goal, how to do it. The receptionist told me to get in my car, but the only car I could find (in front of the building) was not able to be used. There were a handful of locations I could explore, but I couldn’t find anything much to do in any of them.

Grim Fandango Remastered
The Land of the Living is a strange place indeed.

I did enjoy all the dialogue, and I love the setting and the characters, but I’m already concerned I’m going to keep getting stuck like this. Thankfully, I found a door I’d missed that led me into a new area and I managed to progress the story a bit more before I rhetorically threw the game in the bin. I did get stuck a bit more after that, but a couple of people on Twitter assisted when I moaned I was unable to figure out what to do next.

Grim Fandango Remastered
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

For now, I’m going to persevere with Grim Fandango. There is a lot to like here, and hopefully that will continue and will be enough to keep obtuse puzzle solving agony at bay.