Playing Grim Fandango for the First time: Part Two
By: Katelyn Vause
Welcome back to my playthrough of Grim Fandango! Adventure game frustration and witty dialogue ahead!
One thing I will caution PC gamers about: the Steam version has a serious bug. The audio will start to skip, and if you try to look up a solution, a million options will pop up. I tried several and none worked for me, so I have to admit that I’m doing my playthrough on Xbox.
Out of ideas inside, I decide to walk out and see if I can find any hints about what to do.
When you leave the office, there’s a festival down the street in honor of the Day of the Dead. If you speak to the clown making balloon animals, you’ll have the option of saying “I have to go. That sound makes me want to kill someone.” The clown will then respond “Me too!” He also helpfully gives you balloons that you will need later, but the dark humor is as jarring as it is charming.
Speaking of the balloons, this is where I have to criticize the game just a bit, though many will say this is a criticism of the genre of adventure games as a whole, and I have to admit I do not entirely disagree. You need two deflated balloons in order to do the next step of the quest. What do you do with the balloons? Fill them up with packing foam and jam them into the message tubes to ruin the system, of course!
Adventure games sometimes have you go down wacky rabbit holes in order to solve problems. The balloon example is a good one, though it gets even wackier in certain parts of Grim. But we’ll get to that later.
Finally, Manny gets a great client! Her name is Mercedes (Meche, for short). She was basically a saint during her life, yet Manny isn’t able to get her a decent travel package. When he tries to confirm her identity to make sure there wasn’t a mistake, she says, “Want to see my birthmark? It’s wherever you guys put my skin.”
I laughed so hard at that line.
Manny gets chewed out by his boss for stealing one of Domino’s clients, and in the meantime, Meche leaves and decides to just walk. Everything comes crashing down just when things were looking up. On the one hand, I felt bad for Manny, but on the other, I knew there was no way things were going to be easy.
Mafia-style, Manny gets locked in the tiny office in the garage, anxiously waiting to find out his fate. I thought for sure Glottis would come to the rescue, but she was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, a shadowy figure appeared in the window.
This mysterious man asked a few questions, and once I directed Manny to make it clear he has no love for the company and is willing to work to take down the corruption in the city, the man unlocked the door.
Standing on the other side is a tall, thin skeleton who I personally find to be handsome (for a skeleton, anyway). His name is Sal, and he’s been secretly running an underground operation called the Lost Souls Alliance. The purpose of the organization is to uncover the corruption in the Department of Death. Eva, the secretary from the office, is a double agent who’s been working for Sal for years. Where have they been operating? In an underground space in the alley next to the office, right under the noses of the very people they’re conspiring to take down. I love it.
Sal’s help has a price; everything does. In exchange for getting Manny out of the city, the Lost Souls Alliance needs an impression of Manny’s teeth, as well as some homing pigeon eggs.
You read that right. Homing pigeon eggs. And how do you get those eggs? By stealing them from the nest on the roof. This sounds (kind of) normal, until you have to use adventure game logic to get them.
You need to get a cat shaped balloon from the angry balloon man by the fair, and you also need to steal a loaf of bread from the stall next to his. Then, climb up onto the roof and find the pigeons. Break up the loaf and scatter it around the balloon. The pigeons will flock to eat the bread, only to pop the balloon and fly away in fear, leaving you free to steal their eggs.
Why did it have to be a cat shaped balloon? Who knows.
Again, I adore adventure games. But I cannot imagine trying to play one without internet hints, a manual, or in-game help.
Eva’s task is a bit easier, but much grosser. After stealing Domino’s mouthguard from his office, simply take it to the garage and fill it with auto body fluid. Bite down, and voila! Impressions of Manny’s teeth…that he made with motor oil…in a used mouth guard…
I shudder when I think about it.
But at last, I’ve satisfied the Lost Souls Alliance, and it’s time to flee the city before Don and Domino realize Manny’s escaped.
What rabbit holes will I have to go down next? Tune in next time for an update on my first Grim Fandango playthrough! As always, chat with us in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org!