If any one company can proclaim itself king of the adventure game, it's probably LucasArts. Anybody who has enjoyed the developer's previous highly-rated outings, such as Sam and Max, will know exactly why this title is so well deserved. The much-copied formula of the graphic adventure has been a staple of the company's output for more years than we care to remember, and this massed experience shines through in Grim Fandango.
You play the part of Manny, a travel agent who supplies the recently departed with a route to the underworld. In an ideal afterlife, these would be expensive journeys on super-fast express trains or luxury liners, earning our hero a small fortune in commission. In this altered reality, though, most of his punters get nothing more than a point in the right direction and a boot up the backside. Manny is a salesman for the dead, and a burnt-out and washed-up one at that.
The game takes its mythology from Mexican folklore, which is pretty unfamiliar to us Brits. To say this is a faithful rendition of a pagan belief is way off the mark, as the application of a film noir narrative and style exterminates any potential for this to be a serious cultural study.
Like most of LucasArts' games, Grim is reasonably humorous but not panty-wettingly funny and the puzzles have a tendency to err on the side of obscurity in an effort to stay a good distance away from easy. However, there is no denying that this is a charming adventure with production values that are so high you can't see them. If you want to spend your Christmas sat at a PC controlling a wise-cracking dead hombre, there's really only one place to come.
- Publisher: Activision
- Telephone: 01895 456700
- Price: #34.99.
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