Some thoughts on year 1 of Grim Fandango, mostly culled from my posts on the forum:

  • Glottis is one of my favorite NPCs ever.
  • I’m really pleased at how well the graphics hold up, I love the art deco style. Looking at Glottis, my first reaction was “wow, that’s not very many polygons, is it”, but my second reaction was “so what?” I mean, maybe it would have been better if each of his teeth had been lovingly crafted out of 100 polygons (instead of existing solely as textures on the face), but maybe not: that might have shifted the designers out of bringing out the humor of Glottis’s size and behavior and into, well, modeling teeth. Not to take anything away from tooth modeling, but it may be harder to present a strong unified style when you’re going down to that level. See also Dan’s recent blog post on graphics.
  • About the controls: since I haven’t actually played many graphical adventure games, my point of reference there was “would I prefer controlling this like a text adventure or not?” And sometimes the answer is “yes”: as other people have mentioned, the movement is a bit wonky, and even if it wasn’t, it might be nice to just be able to type “n; e; e; n; w; d; n; e” (or whatever) to get from my office to the balloon guy. The recent graphical adventure games that I have played are the Phoenix Wright series, and I have a new appreciation for the limited number of rooms in those games: it’s not like Grim Fandango is particularly spread out or anything, but it still makes a difference.
  • But what I do like is the simplicity of interacting with the environment and managing inventory: it’s very nice to not have to play “guess the verb”. Instead, I just hit enter on the keypad when standing near a point of interest and holding an object; either something appropriate will happen or nothing will happen, and either way I know I’m not missing anything in that interaction.
  • Another difference I’ve noticed between this and text adventures that I’ve played (and, for that matter, from the Phoenix Wright games): the use of inventory. In those games, you have a fixed set of items which you (almost always) get exactly one of, and (except for a few red herrings), you can use each one in exactly one place. (One annoying puzzle in Enchanter excepted. ) Whereas, in this game, you can get multiple copies of some of the items, and you can (at times) misuse them, forcing you to go back and get another one. Not a big deal, but I do have to get used to saving a bit more often…
  • I was surprised how different the puzzles in the forest were from the puzzles in/near your office: much less moving around, many fewer items to work with. And that limited scope is a good thing, because the puzzles in the forest were crap: there’s no way I would have solved them without help if there had been any more options for me to trigger with. For the tree, the only thing that kept me going was that the wheelbarrow was basically the only thing I had to play with; and I completely agree with others that the beaver puzzle is very unnatural, in that you have to be in the right place to use the right item, even though you should be able to use it elsewhere. I had to look up on gamefaqs to figure out how to get the key; and, of course, in a gap in the game’s weird internal logic, there’s a route between the key and the gate once you’ve gotten to the key but not before then.
  • So: not ideal puzzles for me,at least in the forest. (And I don’t think it’s just me.) Still, I’ve had a pleasant journey this far, and the puzzles have, on the balance, added to my enjoyment more than subtracting from it; I’m glad I’m playing this game rather than an alternate reality GF where Manny shoots his way through the forest with a gun. And given the quite different nature of the puzzles in the first two halves of the year, I’m curious how the nature of the puzzles will change going forward.

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