"The one real problem with Grim Fandango is that the end comes too soon."
- Ron Dulin, GameSpot Review
It is the rarest kind of computer game that not only surprises and impresses those who anticipated its release, but also manages to draw the attention of an audience that would otherwise not pay the genre a moment's notice. Tim Schafer's Grim Fandango is such a case.
Its epic story spans four years, over the course of which a down-on-his-luck afterlife broker must uncover the nature of his corrupt employer and save an innocent woman's soul. The story is serious at its core, drawing on real emotions and plausible motives. Still, Grim Fandango has a remarkable sense of humor, from its visual design inspired by Mexican folklore right down its witty, quotable dialogue and its situational comedy. With a script, musical score, and voice acting worthy of a feature film and an inspired artistic design worthy of display within a gallery, Grim Fandango far exceeds adventure game standards where a half-decent story and a few good puzzles tend to satisfy.
Instead, Grim Fandango approaches perfection on every front. And unlike any other game released this year, Grim Fandango will remain forever a masterpiece and forever a classic; its visuals will not tarnish with age. Its story and its characters will remain delightful and unforgettable. Thus Grim Fandango marks one of the first steps the computer game has ever taken toward maturity and long-term staying power. It is a game accessible to virtually everybody, from its fluid control and invisible interface, to its subtle, often hilarious, and always moving story. Nothing about the game can be written off as merely a technological steppingstone or a transitional, evolutionary design.
Like a first-rate film or work of literature - indeed, like any work of art - Grim Fandango is timeless and destined to be enjoyed not just for months, but forever. Yet unlike any work of art, Grim Fandango invites, even demands, your direct participation, and its finest scenes are those in which you genuinely experience the story through your own intervention. As such, it presents itself as an unlikely yet entirely viable representative of an entirely new artistic medium, one every bit as rich as literature or film, only newer.