Last week, I posted an event on our Steam Group requesting our followers to browse my ever expanding list of games, and name the next title up for review. I went to Random.org to select our winner this morning, and it chose Mr. Krabs. His prize was a 10$ title of his choosing. His suggestion was Psychonauts.
Psychonauts comes to us from a time when Platformers were a giant genre, much like Open World games are today. Everyone was making their own “Jump, Jump, Collect the thingy” game, Mario 64, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Rayman, Gex…..the list goes on and on. Some were well made, most really, REALLY sucked. Few things can kill a game like this, as simple as their formula is. Controls, Story, and THE CAMERA, are the major things that can ruin an otherwise interesting game. In a genre notoriously plagued with outrageous failures, how did Psychonauts stand up?
The story begins with Raz, a circus runaway. Desperate to become a Psychonaut, he sneaks into a government facility disguised as a summer camp for psychics. When he is discovered, he is allowed to stay only until his parents arrive, but not permitted to participate in camp activities. When the directors realize that Raz possesses significant potential, they begin to allow him access. With a limited amount of time before his parents arrive, Raz begins his Psychonaut training.
Starting out, the game plays like most any other platformer. Punches, double jumps, “money” tokens, all standard stuff. The HUD exists as the summer camp itself, levels are presented as people who need help. Using your psychic abilities, dive into their minds and “Professor X” the crap out of their problems, it’s like a cartoon Inception!
Throughout each level there are many things to collect to “clear their mind”. Finding tags for “emotional baggage”, or floating “figments of imagination”, can increase your Psi Rank, giving your abilities a boost. Arrowheads can be used as currency for buying equipment, and destroying “mental vaults” unlocks slide shows that give you a glimpse at the source of the persons problems.
The levels are each unique to the person who’s mind you are in, ranging from a generals war zone, to the world inside the mind of a lungfish. Enemies vary widely, consisting of everything from psychically endowed bears to the censors trying to get you out of a persons mind, with each levels boss representing the core of their issues.
The atmosphere continually has me laughing, I love the obscure, and often deep path the game takes. The quirky style and strange presentation was exactly what I would have expected from Tim Schafer, all of his games have the perfect level of absurdity. You may know him better for his recent releases; Brutal Legend, and the just released Costume Quest. I knew him for his work on The Secret of Monkey Island, and Full Throttle, I was really into Point and Click adventures 10 years ago.
I can’t really say anything bad about this game, it does everything right in completely unique ways. In a genre riddled with copycats and ridiculous content, it is refreshing to see a game take on the challenge of making something different. The play style reminds me of the classics that started this genre, with a little adventure thrown in. If you are tired of the usual games coming out, go snag Psychonauts! It’s only ten bucks, and it’s a game you will be happy to finish. I am sure Mr. Krabs will not be disappointed either.
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