Grim Fandango

From LucasArts

Brief Description

This is a very stylish game produced by LucasArts that will be a classic adventure game. The main character is Manny Calavera and he's a travel agent. He works for the Department of the Dead (DOD). Yep, he's dead and so are most of the characters in the game. Those that aren't dead are monsters called into the land of the dead for special purposes.

The idea behind Manny's job is based on Aztec beliefs that the Dead must journey for four years to reach their final home. Manny's job is to send them on their way using the best possible transportation. But he hasn't had any good clients lately, he has been getting losers, and so he gets no commissions. Commissions are his ticket to journey further in the land of the dead. So Manny decides to get himself a better client, but then the fun really starts.

This is a beautiful game. The world of the dead is well rendered and quite believable. The voices behind the animations are quite good. The game also has a sense of humour, some of the dialogue and animations should amuse, at very least. The level of puzzles vary, but they are fair.

Game play

This game does not use a mouse at all, but a set of keyboard commands (you may also use a gamepad or joystick to control Manny). The basic keys are simple to use and remember, they have been selected so you can do almost everything that you need to using just the numeric keypad on the keyboard. The notable exception is accessing the menu, which is F1. I found the interface quite easy to get used to, and I don't use the keyboard that often for game playing.

Explore the world with Manny and watch his head movements. He'll turn to look at any interesting items or people that he can talk to. As usual with adventure games, grab anything that you can, open any doors/drawers, and be patient. A couple of times, it may help to do something more than once.

Extra note, Manny does look at items of interest very consistantly, but I missed a couple of game locations by not noticing the entries and because Manny did not look that direction as we walked by. There wasn't a door, there wasn't anything of immediate interest for Manny and so he doesn't look.

Gripes about the game

The first release of this game is buggy. Fast machines in particular may notice a lot of sound problems with the cut-scene animations. A couple of times, one character or object appeared in the entirely wrong part of my screen. The game also sometimes totally locks on my machine. This may be due to the new computer needing a bit of a shakedown period, but it may not. LucasArts has released a patch for the game, so you may wish to download that before you start playing.


Buy Grim Fandango now. It was one of the best adventure games I'd seen in 1998. Enjoy.

This game is suitable for adventurers of any age. The puzzles are fair, a couple of them require a bit of timing, but you can do them any number of times until you get it right. As usual with LucasArts, you can try using items, and if you were wrong about what you needed to do, you can go back and get another one. LucasArts doesn't make gamers rely on saved games if they do something experimental.

Some final thoughts on the game.

I was slightly worried after the Petrified Forest that the game was a bit on the short side. The next section has a lot more locations and things to do and the game did take a reasonable amount of time for me to complete.

Ok, an adventure game and you can't threaten anyone with death, because they are already dead. So what do you do to threaten the dead? They can be sprouted, the skeletons converted to a bunch of flowers. This also prevents them from being able to complete their journey and effectively 'kills' the dead. How about that for a "fate worse than death"!

If you want to find older LucasArts games, go to their site and check out the store. They have released a number of older games in various collections. They are one of the few companies who recognise that some people want to play good games, not just bleeding edge games.