Psychonauts 2 is a platformer/adventure video game developed by Double Fine and published by Xbox Game Studios, releasing in 2021. You play as Razputin Aquato, trained acrobat and powerful young psychic. Raz has realized his lifelong dream of joining the international psychic espionage organization known as the Psychonauts. Unfortunately, these psychic super spies are in trouble. Their leader hasn’t been the same since he was kidnapped, and what’s worse, there’s a mole hiding in headquarters.
Let me start by letting it be known that I have never played the original Psychonauts. I was definitely interested in this sequel but likely wouldn’t have played it for some time had it not come to Game Pass when it launched.
Psychonauts 2 is a third-person platform game similar in gameplay to its predecessor. The player controls Raz, a newly graduated Psychonaut with powerful psychic abilities, as he delves into the minds of others. The player uses “Psi-Powers”, such as telekinesis, pyro kinesis, and levitation, in combination with more common platform game elements, to explore the mental worlds of several non-player characters.
Psychonauts 2 is set in a fictional, alternate world in which psychic powers exist thanks to the fictional element Psitanium – a substance brought to the planet by several meteors. The Psychonauts are an international espionage agency focused on psychic peacekeeping, scientific research of the human mind, and the development of psychic-based technologies.
If you’re a fan of old-school platformers or games like Banjo-Kazooie, Conkers Bad Fur Day, Spyro the Dragon etc. Then you’ll feel right at home playing Psychonauts 2. It’s a real blast from the past to play this style of game because we simply don’t see many of them anymore.
To call Psychonauts 2 a visually interesting game is a pretty damn huge understatement in my mind. It’s constantly throwing so many new, mind bending ideas at you it can be hard to keep up. As Raz, you visit a surprisingly large array of imaginative levels that are accessed by Raz entering the minds of a number of characters. Each one feels unique and comes with its own set of obstacles and challenges. Also, they each introduce quirky gameplay mechanics that suit the environment you’re in. They’re all really well designed and easy to navigate. There’s even a large hub world that binds it all together.
Visually, the game is packed to the rafters with vibrant colours that really pop. My personal favourite has to be Psi King’s Sensorium. One reason is because you get to spend time with a character voiced by Jack Black. The other is that the visual style used here can only really be described as psychedelic. Seriously, Double Fine must have been hitting some serious LSD throughout development. There’s just so many visually impressive moments in Psychonauts 2 that it would be hard to highlight them all without rambling on for ages.
This isn’t a game that will absolutely blow you away with its next generation graphics. It’s a bit rough in a places and the character models themselves could be better. Still, it’s clearly the intended style and I was impressed with what it managed to do with certain lighting and smoke effects.
Controlling Raz does take some getting used to. Especially as new abilities are thrown at you often. I died a few times due to pressing the wrong button or having the wrong ability equipped. Juggling them can feel cumbersome and it’s debateable how useful some of them even are. However, the platforming never felt unfair. If I died due to a mistimed jump then I knew it was me that was at fault rather than the game.
The story is my biggest issue with Psychonauts 2. With all of the craziness that is going on in front of you it’s very easy to get confused about what is actually going on. There are way too many characters in the game. It feels like you are constantly being introduced to somebody new and the game expects you to know who they are. I know this is a sequel but as a newcomer I didn’t find it that welcoming, even with the recap. Also, there are way too many cutscenes. This might be how it was in the original game but I didn’t play that. At times, it felt like I was watching a show on Netflix instead of playing a game. It’s packed with interesting and important ideas that will resonate with some more than others.
Don’t get me wrong, the cutscenes and voice acting are all fantastic. It almost felt like I was watching a new film by Tim Burton or something. However, it just gets a bit too much in places and I just wanted more of the fun gameplay. I can see a lot of people just skipping certain moments which won’t help with understanding the story.
Regardless of that, Psychonauts 2 is a must play game for this new generation. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more unique experience. Also, one that feels like a love letter to a genre of games that doesn’t really get much attention anymore.
The Final Score - 8/10