Game of Phones: Every week I’ll pick a game for iOS or Android that’s perfect for long journeys, the commute or just when you want to switch off from the outside world.
For myself and many other gamers above a certain age threshold, Grim Fandango has a very special place in our hearts. Released in 1998 during the glory years of PC gaming it was a triumph in witty, interactive storytelling.
That you can, almost 20 years later, now download this game onto your iPhone is a testament to the its timeless quality.
The game’s setting and design are unlike anything you’ve played before and place you in a world where the Aztec belief of afterlife has been married to the genre of 1930′s film noir.
Within this world you play Manuel “Manny” Calavera, a travel agent for the lost souls who must make the journey through the land of the dead towards the Ninth Underworld. The better you were alive, the nicer your mode of transport will be with the best being a train that takes four minutes, and the worst being on foot and that takes four years.
Manny doesn’t like his job, not only is he constantly being outperformed by his colleagues but he almost always gets landed with the worst clients.
Without giving much more away than that, you will discover there’s a reason he’s been getting such bad clients and will in turn reveal a conspiracy that spreads as far as the highest echelons in the land of the dead.
Grim Fandango at its core is a multiple choice narrative point and click game, so as you move Manny around you’ll interact with objects in each scene and talk to the many unforgettable characters that inhabit this world.
The game looks old, even with the remastered graphics and re-recorded orchestral soundtrack. This won’t matter though because above all other things, Grim Fandango is extremely funny.
The script is a masterpiece of both dark and light humour that remains as funny today as it was back in 1998. It’s silly and yet completely engaging in a way that’ll make you want to finish Manny’s story.
Where Grim Fandango suffers is through its game design. There is no tutorial to help you get started, and there is no notebook to help you remember previous conversations or important pieces of evidence. As such I would highly recommend keeping notes on your phone or in an actual physical notebook.
Without this, you’ll probably find yourself staring blankly at the screen after having put it down for a few days. It’s sadly a carry over of adventure games that were released back then and it’s certainly not something you’d expect to find in a modern game.
Then again you don’t drive a classic car because it’s comfy, you drive it because it’s a classic car. In that respect, Grim Fandango is the classic car of most modern video games.