Grim Fandango

Year: 1997
Platform: Windows 95/98
Developer: LucasArts Entertainment
Genre: Adventure
Rating: ****

Wow! This game really helped me get out of a serious blue funk and provided a much needed distraction from the stress of being laid off. Manny Calavera is a salesman in the Land Of The Dead, who sells travel packages to souls for their final resting place in the Ninth Underworld. Unfortunately, all of his recent clients are deadbeats who aren't worthy of travelling in style, and Manny just needs to get one premium sale before he can work off his time and travel to the Ninth Underworld himself. He decides to steal a prime client from a rival salesman, and discovers an entire world of crime, greed, and corruption. Someone is stealing peoples' destinies and making a profit from it, and Manny is determined to get to the bottom of it. He must also rescue the innocent soul of Mercedes "Meche" Colomar, who was inadvertantly put in peril by Manny's actions. Over the course of four years, Manny searches for Meche and gets closer to solving the mystery. He meets many endearing friends and enemies along the way, and faces a horde of dastardly puzzles to solve.

Above all, the production value of the game is excellent. The art deco/film noir look of the game is brilliant and for once, the voice talent is superb. The excellent voice actors really bring life to the game's characters, and it makes a huge impact. The characters are modelled after Mexican Day Of The Dead folk art, which works well with the highly stylized environment. It's definitely a gorgeous game to look at. In addition to the great visuals, the music is also outstanding. Great stuff all around. The game plays like "Resident Evil" or "Fear Effect" in that the 3D characters move and interact within fixed camera background plates. Movement is sometimes tricky, but manageable with enough persistance. The greatest weakness in the game is the gameplay, which consists entirely of mind-boggling puzzles. You'd better have that walk-through handy, because many of the puzzles are impossible to figure out without some sort of insight. (that, or I just really suck at puzzle games) If you don't let yourself get frustrated and know when to turn for help, "Grim Fandango" is an excellent piece of interactive entertainment and a true classic that will stand the test of time. And where else can you scare off a flock of pigeons with a balloon shaped like Robert Frost?

Memorable quotes:
"Manny, until now we scraped along the ground like rats, but from now on, we soar! Like eagles! Yeah! LIKE EAGLES...ON...POGO STICKS!!!"
"Is there a greater constant in nature than the treachery of women?"