(This is part of my journey going playing through Grim Fandango. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)
Year Four — the final in Manny’s journey here — is an anomaly for the game. Instead of showing Manny making progress in the year between, he and his friends have barely survived a slog through snow and desert to arrive at the gatekeeper’s station. This is it, right here: The start of the next life. The only problem is that Manny can’t go through, and neither can Meche, without the Double-Nine tickets.
In a haunting nightmare sequence, the game shows us what happens to those using the counterfeit tix (like the lawyer) — their train turns into a horrible three-eyed demon and then plunges right into hell. Well. That’s going to feature prominently in my dreams tonight.
The only thing that can be done is to reverse the entire journey and go back to the beginning to get the REAL stolen tickets. And for that, Manny has to save Glottis, who is at the threshhold of demon death due to the fact that he hasn’t driven anything fast for a while. This gets remedied very quickly thanks to a souped-up cable car.
The reverse journey goes back to Rubacava, where the Bone Wagon is booby trapped (I love the visual of the dominoes here). Then it’s back to the start of the game, where evil Hector Lemans has taken over the town and turned it into a gambling empire of sorts.
The puzzles weren’t too bad this year around, save for one annoying one in the sewers. Long story short, Manny gets a gun and comes after Hector, big-time. It’s a showdown that involves a busted casino sign, a last-minute betrayal by Olivia, a noble sacrifice by Salvador, and a greenhouse that gets jury-rigged with sprouting solution:
Hector explodes. Gruesomely. Say what you will about Grim Fandango, but it kills off its bad guys in very memorable — and satisfying — ways.
With order restored to the afterlife and the tickets given back to their proper owners, it’s time for Manny and Meche to board the train and go on to whatever lays ahead for them. There’s a rather sad farewell with Glottis, who has to stay behind with his minions and machines.
But at least our heroes have each other — and hope — for now.
Overall, I’m really glad I finally played through the entirety of Grim Fandango. It’s a fantastically unique adventure game setting with plenty of bizarre moments, laugh-out-loud humor, and compelling characters. There were some rather bothersome puzzles and minorly unfriendly controls, but on the whole, it deserves the label of “masterpiece” that many have given it.