770th played so far

Genre: Platform
Platform: Xbox/PC/Playstation 2
Year of Release: 2005
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Majesco Entertainment

I’ve been creating a bit of my buffer for these write ups, which has the handy side effects that I can use Christmas to play some longer games, rather than using it to catch up and get ahead. I’m still not quite on the hundred per year expectation, but by slowing down a bit I can at least take the chance to enjoy the games a bit more.

While Double Fine Entertainment has had quite a varied output, their first game is probably one of their best known ones. Psychonauts is a 3D platformer with a heavier story focus – of, I believe, going inside the brains of other people to sort out their problems. If it’s like others, there are plenty of additional things to find, but I also hope we get decent solutions to the control issues earlier platformers had.

Our Thoughts

There is something charming about the story telling in Psychonauts. While Raz, our protagonist, takes his position as future hero serious from the start, the summer camp setting filled with odd, over the top characters gives a more childlike look at what become quite heavy themes as we look at the inner life of these characters. Psychonauts, after all, are humans with psychic powers that allow them to get into others minds, see their fears and issues, and help you work through them. Most important, you start getting insights into Raz’s own mind, which you only get to explore a step at a time, figuring out what’s locked away.

The minds, first of all, are pretty cool environments. They’re the levels in the game – fairly linear, with a set of collectibles that are in each level and more specific enemies. The levels are all quite different and distinctive – the first is a war-based theme with trenches and other machines of war, while later a teacher’s mind turns out to be a cube with a further organised set up and more mechanical elements. Your own mind? A dark cave, obviously.

On the other hand, the levels are connected in a large open world – where most of your powers still work thanks to plot logic, creating a weird and (in my mind) very big camp to go through, in an area that has some weird other experiments going on. There’s also the obligatory store with powerups to buy, although I think that’s being kept until later to really kick off – it all seemed quite unaffordable to me.

Final Thoughts

Psychonauts is a good 3D platformer, with controls that work a lot better than they did a hardware generation earlier when it was still working itself out. It’s quite straight forward there anyway, but it also adds in a charming plot that explains a lot of your weird abilities and takes you into far stranger worlds – while justifying that existence. It’s  not just charming, but also a great game to play and I’m looking forward to the sequel.