Grim Fandango is a 1998 point n click adventure game directed by Tim Schafer (also well known for his other games Psychonauts and Brutal Legend) and developed and published by LucasArts for windows. In 2014 DoubleFine managed to acquire the licensing rights to the franchise and produced a remaster of the game for larger audiences/other platforms.

This was my second DoubleFine/Schafer game I've ever played that wasn't related to Psychonauts, before then I had only seen Manny's boney face occasionally from that one comic tumblr blog revolving around certain popular skeleton characters in media. So I was a bit suprised to see it was by the same developers/people behind one of my favourite games of all time. Grim Fandango was one of the first games I ever went through blind or atleast not knowing major plot elements at the time and despite it being a game a really liked, especially for it's writing and characters, I have never actually replayed it again beyond my first full playthrough on steam in 2020. So I recently went back, reinstalled the game and 100% it with some friends watching and it was great. Upon replaying the game I found myself actually being familiar with the puzzles, being able to complete even the much more infurieting puzzles such as the forklift elevator puzzle or the doorlock puzzle relatively quickly compared to my original experience being quite frustrated at the game's puzzles, hell I didn't even realize you could play the game in windowed till my replay.

Grim Fandango takes place in The Land of the Dead/the Eighth Underworld where recently departed souls aim to make their way through 4 consecutive years to the Land Of Eternal rest/the Ninth Underworld. Depending on the recently deceaseds life, they are rewarded with better access/assistance with their journey such as sports cars or cruises, the best being a ticket to a Number Nine train which makes the trip there only 4 minutes. These travel packages are provided by the Department Of Death (the D.O.D) whos travel agents act as grim reapers to escort souls from the land of the living to the land of the dead and to determine their worth their soul has merited. Only on the Day of the dead every year are these souls allowed to visit loved ones and family in the land of the living. Apart from the common inhabitats of the land of the dead, skeletal calaca figures, there exists demons that are summoned tasked to serve a certain function and help out with every day life.

From this and many things from the game, the premise and setting takes huge inspiration from mexican folklore, more specifically Aztec beliefs and especially the Day of the Dead.

The game follows a travel agent named Manuel "Manny" Calavera who's trying to pay of whatever debt he's managed to acquire when he was alive, he used to be quite the hotshot in his early days in the D.O.D but lately he's been low on good clients thanks to his rival co-worker, Domino Hurley. Due to being threatened by his boss Don Copal that he'll be fired if he doesn't get any better clients, he steals one of Domino's clients Mercedes "Meche" Colomar. However upon assigning her a reward, it decides that Meche is not worthy of the rewards she rightfully should have due to the pureness of her heart. After Meche leaves to embark on her long journey, Manny swears to himself to give Meche the Number Nine tcket she rightfully deserves while uncovering the dirty secret going on in the D.O.D with the help of the Lost Soul Alliance. Thus he embarks on his own journey to find Meche and set things right.

Everything from the world building and the characters is fantastic in this game, I have never seen a more unique interpretation of the afterlife, specifically the aztec afterlife and the day of the dead. I especially love how demons were utilized here, with them not being stereotypically evil or what you'd expect but simply just helping out in everyday mundane tasks. One thing I also love is the rich settings even for areas we don't spend as much time in such as the land of the living with it's picture collage aesthetic.

Speaking of characters! All the characters in the game do well in the story, Manny is a great protagonist and seeing his journey from just trying to help Meche to eventually helping and saving all the people held captive by Domino at the edge of the world is extremely satisfying. Glottis is also a great character too, he's just a well done comedic character who you actually care for and presence is always a delight on screen (plus he was DoubleFine's first ever bear, he walked so Helmut and Bob pn2 could run).

Another I also love relating to the characters is the writing of their dialouge and the voice performances themselves, everyone did a good job potraying the overall mood in the scenes, especially for all the scenes aiming to show a certain mood or feeling to it.


^ this site also has a page linking to various other very well made still up and archived grim fandango fansites!

Grim Fandango puzzle document
Grim Fandango Network site

My awesome Glottis amv

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a spinning gif of a brightly colored 3d model house