Playing Guardians of the Galaxy was a blast, so I wanted to continue on with another funny game. Psychonauts 2 arrived on Game Pass this year with rave reviews and a nice digestible length. I played the original just last year.
The original Psychonauts was fun, but the platforming was a bit frustrating and clunky. Both games are weird, but with good stories. I was happy to find that Psychonauts 2 improved on all fronts.
Psychonauts 2 Stylized Graphics
After playing the original Psychonauts this year, the dated graphics and weird art style were fresh in my memory. The art style of Psychonauts 2 is definitely still weird, but what a dramatic improvement to the quality, lighting, shadows, well pretty much everything. The art is like trippy 60s hippy meets Pixar.
It does not have ray tracing, but it’s impressive how good it looks with it’s unique art style. With my beefy system the game is super smooth which helps with all the platforming the game requires. The psi effects along with the lighting give everything a noticeable pop.
Poking around in characters heads provides the perfect showcase for graphics with crazy twisted structures. Many are like dreams come to life.
Fun Psi Platforming Gameplay
I’ve played my fair share of Mario games, but I’m not that big of a platformer fan. The original Psychonauts definitely put a huge Psi spin on the genre, peaking my interest. All the powers definitely enhanced the platforming gameplay, but the first game was still clunky and frustrating at times. I spent a lot of time falling to my death or missing jump and grips.
I’m happy to report that Psychonauts 2 is far more polished and a lot more fun. There were rarely jumping bits that frustrated me. It was a smooth and fun experience. The only frustrating bits were where I thought it was possible to reach an item, only to find I lacked the power or equipment the game requires to reach it.
Psychonauts 2 Psi Powers
Many of the powers from the first game return and are improved. There were also new powers to explore. My go to powers were Psi Blast, Telekinesis, Levitation, Time Bubble and Mental Connection. The Psi Blast let me shoot at enemies from a far and Telekinesis let me toss items to stun them.
Levitation was fun riding a psi ball around at high speed and doubled as a psi parachute when I activated it while falling. Time Bubble is a life saver for holding moving platforms in place temporarily to avoid the frustrating falls from the first game. It also worked on enemies to slow them down.
Mental Connection was great for unique idea connection puzzles and served as suspended points in mid air to take a break from jumping puzzles. Each power is upgradable with collectibles acquired throughout the game world. Clairvoyance had a top level upgrade called Limitless to remove cooldowns for all powers, but that’s like 30 ranks above were I finished the game.
Beyond all the PSI powers, the main character, Razputin Aquato, is a child of the circus with all the necessary acrobatic skills. There were plenty of trapeze swings, pole climbs, tight rope walks, rail grinding, trampoline, and more. Those platforming puzzles kept with Raz’s circus roots and the animations were smooth, as well as comical.
For people that enjoy 100% playthroughs, there are tons of collectibles to keep busy with Psitanium, Mental Baggage (cartoon baggage with cartoon faces, yes weird), Tarot cards, and so much more. There’s a lot of them, but they are typically fun to get to.
Pyschonauts 2 Story Weird, but Good
The original Psychonauts game began with Raz running away from the circus to join the Psychonauts camp. Psychic enabled kids learned how to harness their powers at a truly weird summer camp. That all went bad and Raz was tapped to save the day.
The story was as weird as the art style. Just imagine how distorted the faces were in the first game compared to the picture above. In between that first game and the sequel, there was even a small VR (Rhombus of Ruin) game revolving around the head of the Psychonaut’s kidnapping.
Psychonauts 2 picks up right after his rescue. For me, the story is much better in the sequel. Raz saved the day in the first game and in the VR game, but the sequel does not take long to relegate him to the level of trainee. The rest of the game is spent proving himself to the rest of the Psychonauts and trainees.
New Things Inside and Outside of Minds
This time, the majority of the game takes place in the Motherlobe (Psychonauts HQ), the Quarry around it, a nearby campsite and inside many characters’ heads. I loved the locations. All very polished and fun to explore.
A staple of the series is stepping through a literal doorway into the minds of other characters. The game is weird, but things really go nuts inside people’s heads. Their thoughts and fears manifest themselves, sometimes into enemies.
Bad ideas are furry little creatures that lob lightbulb grenades. Bad moods are fuzzy masses that cannot be harmed until finding the source of the mood. Censors are little men in suits with NO stamps. Enablers buff the other enemies.
Panic attacks are trippy fast enemies that jump and teleport around. Regrets weigh a person down and these enemies try to drop those weights onto Raz. There’s even more than that. I love how well connected the enemies are with the theme of the inside of minds.
There are several puzzles that revolve around using the Mental Connection power to string thoughts together to manipulate them. I rather liked convincing a character the best way to solve her problems was using psychic abilities in the casino
Finishing a Psychonauts 2, a Must Play Game
I enjoyed how the story wove it’s way it’s the Raz’s family history with many interesting twists and turns along the way to the end. So many characters were funny and entertaining. I loved putting Ford Cruller’s split personalities back together and how Maligula, the Deluge of Grulovia, plays into it all.
At the start, it was a fun game, but inched it’s way to an outstanding game by the time credits rolled. Even after the credits there was plenty to do and epilogue dialogue to experience. I love when game do this instead of just ending with a cutscene.
Psychonauts 2 is a must play game and I cannot wait for future DLC or any sequel.