It might have been 16 years because the first Psychonauts got here out for us, however for Raz and his buddies it’s solely been a pair days. Psychonauts 2 picks up proper the place the 2005 authentic (and 2017 VR follow-up The Rhombus of Ruin) left off, and it does so in a means that feels contemporary and trendy whereas nonetheless sustaining all the pieces that made its predecessor so particular – from its unusual however lovable characters to the fantastical psychological worlds inside their heads. Certain, it’s introduced a bit little bit of that clunky mid-2000s platforming together with it too, however even with a couple of tough edges Psychonauts 2 is just about all the pieces I may have hoped for from this long-awaited sequel.
Those that understandably haven’t performed a 16-year outdated platformer and its brief VR-exclusive follow-up should get caught up via a captivating animated recap at the beginning of this new journey. It does an entertaining job of offering the necessary data wanted to make Psychonauts 2 work nicely sufficient as a standalone story, one which explores each Raz’s household and the historical past of the Psychonauts as a complete way over the precise occasions of Whispering Rock Psychic Summer season Camp. That stated, this sequel can be plagued by necessary callbacks, thrilling character reunions, enjoyable Easter eggs, and a complete lot of juicy backstory that made all of it hit more durable for me as a long-time fan.
Selecting up simply the day after Rhombus of Wreck (itself set solely a day after Psychonauts), your newly deputized 10-year-old hero Razputin Aquato arrives on the Motherlobe, the headquarters of the psychic spy group often called the Psychonauts, to be taught he hasn’t truly been made a full agent, simply an intern. As such, he’s bought some extra coaching to do to actually earn his stripes, this time whereas working across the services of the Motherlobe and the wooded space surrounding it. In fact, as with the primary recreation (and with none spoilers), issues rapidly escalate from there into a superb story that’s concurrently high-stakes and deeply private.
Developer Double Wonderful has performed an exceptional job of increasing the Psychonauts universe whereas recapturing that signature “psychic James Bond goes to summer time camp” vibe of the unique. It’s possible you’ll begin off in a high-tech spy base, nevertheless it isn’t lengthy earlier than you’re allowed exterior and given free reign to roam its lakeside exterior, hidden caves, and a close-by campground filled with gorgeously stylized redwood bushes. That outside openness means Psychonauts 2 nonetheless affords a heaping serving to of Whispering Rock’s folksy really feel alongside the fancier inside of the Motherlobe, nevertheless it by no means depends on references or nostalgia alone to impress both. And naturally, all these areas are nonetheless dotted with collectibles to seek out, difficult aspect duties to search out (together with one other merchandise scavenger hunt), and amusing characters to speak to.
The unique’s forged of quirky campers is changed by three barely smaller teams right here: the grownup brokers of the Psychonauts, the charismatic teenage members of the intern program that finally develop into Raz’s buddies, and your complete Aquato household tenting out within the close by woods. Each single character in Psychonauts 2 is delightfully distinctive, extremely well-written and voiced, and simply an absolute pleasure to get to know. The facial animations can sometimes look awkward and stiff exterior of the extra tailor-made cutscenes, nevertheless it’s arduous to overstate how enjoyable it’s to easily discover these platforming playgrounds and discuss to individuals.
The Aquato household, particularly, is a real spotlight of this sequel, giving Raz way more depth and shining a unique mild on the occasions of the primary recreation. The truth that Raz deserted them to affix the Psychonauts isn’t actually addressed a lot within the authentic, however right here you get to find out how every of his kinfolk really feel about what occurred. That could possibly be his loving mom Donatella, who’s simply glad he’s protected, his older brother Dion, nonetheless bitter that Raz left them (which is truthful, given it’s solely been a couple of days), or his older sister Frazie, herself scuffling with a secret spurred by his departure. Assembly all these characters and finishing small actions like establishing the household circus tent with them is a deal with, and the identical may be stated for almost everybody else Raz meets.
Psychonauts 2 Screenshots
The actual world is barely half what you get to discover, nonetheless, and Psychonauts 2 manages to ship each bodily and mentally. Whilst you aren’t diving into each mind you see (that will be impolite), the actual meat of the platforming and fight takes place contained in the psychic worlds of lots of the extra troubled characters you meet. And very similar to the individuals who home them, these brains and the reflections of their house owners’ psyche that they signify are splendidly inventive and constantly stunning throughout the board.
Ranges are likely to comply with a little bit of a formulaic construction, with most revolving round getting three of some MacGuffin earlier than reaching a flashy boss battle with an identical three-hit sample. That may harm their novelty if it weren’t for the truth that their superior artwork kinds, top-notch music, and various gameplay mechanics are so totally different that every one remains to be a refreshing delight. One second you is likely to be taking part in life-size pachinko in a neon hospital on line casino, whereas the following you’re cooking anthropomorphic meals in a timed gameshow, and after that you just’re coming into a library ebook and working throughout its phrases in 2D. There isn’t actually a foul world among the many roughly dozen or so that you’ll discover, with a selected standout being a psychedelic music-themed stage the place you’re accompanied by a hilarious ball of sunshine voiced by Jack Black.
These worlds additionally distinguish themselves from the originals’ psychological ranges by tying extra immediately into the story throughout the board. I’d bear in mind Psychonauts’s Milk Man and Bonaparte board recreation phases fondly, however finishing these finally meant little greater than opening a door, story-wise. In distinction, each single considered one of Psychonauts 2’s ranges are tied not simply into the psyche of their host character, however to the plot as a complete. Early on, Raz is even pressured to reckon with the duty of with the ability to enter somebody’s thoughts and alter their psychological state, an necessary dialog that the primary recreation by no means actually had. Moments like this bought me extra invested in each stage, even the goofier amongst them.
Each the platforming and fight have additionally been expanded to be deeper than these of its predecessor, and all of Raz’s animations are brimming with character. Transferring, leaping, and attacking are usually responsive and satisfying, however they can be a bit clunky at occasions. That may imply basic 3D platforming points, like not fairly figuring out should you’ll seize that bar you’re leaping for, or little preventing idiosyncrasies comparable to enemies not all the time all the time responding to assaults such as you’d count on. None of those irritations are so unhealthy that I ever stopped having enjoyable, particularly since checkpoints are largely forgiving when one thing does go unexpectedly incorrect, however Psychonauts 2 positively doesn’t have fairly the identical degree of polish as a fellow 2021 action-platformer like Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, both.
That every one stated, each the psychological and actual worlds are flush with inventive jungle gyms to hop your means round. In basic Psychonauts style, they’re filled with trapeze bars to swing from, trampolines to leap on, and rails to grind – and people are all enjoyable to navigate whether or not you’re within the treetops of the actual world or over the dream-like swamp of somebody’s psyche. Whereas a lot of the psychological ranges are pretty linear, Psychonauts 2 additionally loosens the reins sometimes too, presenting a number of paths or issues and letting you resolve which order to deal with them (or probably which to disregard, should you’re extra enthusiastic about attempting to find its plentiful secrets and techniques first).
Fight itself is a mixture of mashy brawling and extra nuanced technique, relying on the enemies in entrance of you. This sequel does an excellent job of increasing the roster of enemies you’ll face, rapidly rising previous the unique’s Censor baddies with flying Regrets that may be shot out the sky, goopy Doubts that may muck up your motion and must be burned, lightning-fast Panic Assaults that need to be slowed all the way down to be hit, and many extra. Dodging and spamming assaults can nonetheless be efficient at occasions, however I like that the majority psychological adversaries have a particular capacity designed to reply them, pushing me to be nimble on the battlefield and always swap my methods relying on what I used to be preventing. It’s not attempting to be Devil May Cry or something, however that ever-increasing selection all through the marketing campaign actually saved fight entertaining.
Nonetheless, that want to alter up your assaults steadily additionally makes one small shortcoming that tagged alongside from the unique a bit extra apparent: solely with the ability to equip 4 of your eventual eight psychic talents without delay, considered one of which is the all however important Levitation that you just’ll steadily use to dash and hover-jump. It’s foolish that Levitation isn’t all the time accessible, feeling much less like swapping weapons in different video games and extra like in case your primary punch took up a capability slot too. It’s not arduous to pause time and alter talents on the fly, however that may get a bit obnoxious within the later encounters that cleverly throw a number of enemy varieties at you without delay.
The talents are all good enjoyable to make use of at the least, with returning powers like Telekinesis being made right into a extra sensible fight instrument and spectacular new choices changing the much less fascinating ones of the unique. Certainly one of my favourite new additions was the Psychological Connection capacity that permits you to hop between factors within the air whereas platforming or pull enemies towards you in fight, in addition to the Archetype energy that creates an lovable paper model of Raz to help him. (A cute Easter egg with the Archetype being its voice, supplied by Rikki Simons to go with Raz’s already top-notch efficiency from Richard Horvitz, a duo that performed an identical pair as Gir and Zim, respectively, within the Nickelodeon cartoon present Invader Zim.)
Psychonauts 2 additionally deepens character development in fascinating however barely uneven methods. Growing Raz’s rank by grabbing sure collectibles will present factors you need to use to enhance his talents completely, whereas the Psitanium foreign money may be spent on equippable pins to change them additional. The rank upgrades supply a pleasant bit of easy however satisfying personalization to the way you degree Raz, supplying you with management of the order you unlock extras like a dodge assault in your punches or a cost shot in your PSI Blast. In the meantime pins can grant both sillier or extra distinctive results, from altering the colour of your Levitation ball to altering your PSI Blast from uncooked injury to a stun impact… assuming you may afford those you need.
Merely put, the financial system here’s a little bit out of whack. You get Psitanium slowly (and belief me, I used to be attempting to gather it), and need to pay to improve how a lot of it you may maintain, pay for dear therapeutic objects, and always pay for PSI Cores to truly use the rank-increasing PSI playing cards you discover. You may solely equip three pins at a time, too, however I couldn’t afford the three pins I actually wished till just about the very finish of the story anyway. It additionally feels odd that these three slots are shared between sensible pins that may do issues like up your injury and jokier choices like making Raz dance whereas standing nonetheless. There are actually cool customization decisions scattered all through this method, I simply want it have been extra beneficiant so I may have taken benefit of that selection sooner.
Fortunately, the door is left broad open for the completionists who wish to purchase each single pin or discover each final secret in a world coated in them. Whereas finishing a lot of the aspect actions and looking down collectibles to a level I might name “thorough however not obsessive,” it took me roughly 13 hours to achieve the credit – and I nonetheless have extra to seek out. With out spoilers, you’re given the liberty to complete up something you might need missed after finishing the primary story, and a few entertaining new conversations even open up with a couple of characters. That meant the very first thing I wished to do after beating Psychonauts 2 was maintain taking part in.