Psychonauts – PS2
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Majesco Entertainment
Release Date: (NA): April 19th, 2005
Nerd Rating: 10/10
Time does a lot to you, it really does. All those years as kids, our parents told us that time will catch up to us. That we’ll look back on those years before and really REALLY miss them. Some of you may be wondering amidst this banter where I’ve been the past half year. The truth is that adulthood and time has just been consuming me. Depression, money, loss, anger. All of these elements have really put a damper on me as a writer. But, you know what always was an anti depressant to me? What was always there when I didn’t want human connection as the solution? Video games. And it honestly took me playing Psychonauts again to remember what being a kid was like. It honestly helped me feel a little bit alive again. Video games have that effect on us, and every now and again, games can really make a huge impact on you that can change perspectives, moods, and even your state of mind.
Our study for today is on a title some would call the best game of our generation, and clearly reading my prologue here would show that I have a high regard for it. But do I recommend this game to everyone? Does it still hold up to today’s standards? And honestly, is it as good as it’s reputation seems to suggest it is? All of that and more will be found out today from your friendly neighborhood game reviewer, J.M. Sutherland. New and improved!
First thing to really pick apart here is the story and the background of this magical thrill ride of a game. Psychonauts was developed by Double Fine, the studio founded by the enigmatic LucasArts developer Tim Schafer. Double Fine is one of the most critically acclaimed and unique studios around, and their personality really shows all throughout this rush of a video game. The story follows a young boy named Razputin (or just Raz) as he sneaks into a summer camp for psychic children! Of course being a skilled psychic himself, Raz idolizes the Psychonauts, a group of psychics that go on missions and are generally the best the psychic world has to offer.
Raz believes that this camp will give him the skills and tools to become a Psychonaut like he dreams to. Only issue is, his father was called to pick him up and Raz only has two days to gain the tools he needs to while also uncovering a nasty plot to destroy the minds of the psychic children. The plot is simple and effective and harkens back to the childhood nostalgia of going to summer camp, while also blending in one of a kind humor and excellent writing and voice acting. Tim Schafer’s style is written all over this, and honestly, this reminds me of some of the LucasArts games Schafer used to work on in the nineties. There is so much of a nostalgic vibe that you get from playing this game even if it may not be as old as some of the games you remember from your childhood days.
This game has such a unique flavor and will quite literally thrill your gaming tastebuds with it’s more than unique story with themes of growing up, our relationships with our fathers, and human growth overall. Psychonauts will quite literally make you feel like a kid again, just as it has done to me time and time again with every playthrough of it’s charming story.
Next thing to break down when looking at a game is how does it look, sound, and feel? Psychonauts does a fantastic job of having a visual and audio style all it’s own. From the get go, it’s outlandish cartoon feel will hook you right into it’s charm, and has aged incredibly well for a game over a decade old. The animation is absolutely wonderful, and I could see an animated series be inspired by the sheer brilliance of the look of this game. Although nothing AMAZING, the look works incredibly well for what Psychonauts is trying to do, and that is suck you into this bizarre and unique experience. The music accompanies the look successfully, adding into that uniqueness I was just mentioning. Whimsical and often times interesting to listen to, the soundtrack of this game will have you goofily dancing along in between platform jumps and hilarious writing.
The technical aspect of the game also has held up quite nicely. I have played the PS2, PC, and PlayStation 4 ports of this game, and have never come across a glitch or a bug. The game flows together quite nicely despite a lot of stuff going on, and the developer can really be thanked for it’s apparent tender love and care that was given during the construction of this game. Overall, every sense-related thing in Psychonauts has to be praised for doing exactly what it needed to and more, blending elements together perfectly for a technically profound video game.
The gameplay itself is really where this game shines. Mixing classic 3D platforming with interesting powers, mechanics, and style. Psychonauts really comes to life when you start actually playing it. All of the level designs are stunning and unique, each bringing a different sort of play style to the table while keeping with the game’s roots. The game does a very good job of keeping things simple and enjoyable, while also keeping things new, inventive, and fun. Psychonauts is a perfect experience for everyone, but it is clear that this game could appeal to kids at such a wonderful rate. Being only nine when I first experienced it, I have to send my recommendations out in full blast if you are parents of a younger child. The simplicity of it will teach them about the very theory of playing video games while the originality and crispness will keep them coming back for more. It really is a perfect game to get kids and first time gamers into other games in general. From the progression of several entertaining powers to the platforming and action style mechanics, Psychonauts delivers a fun and exciting experience for everyone from the gameplay department. With every level introducing new and fun environments, how can you possibly pass up this adventure for yourself or someone you love?
From the one of a kind gameplay, to the insanely hilarious and imaginative story, to little things such as the voice acting and the graphics. Psychonauts should exceed your expectations on every level. There’s something for everyone here, and this is one game where I definitely would question you if you said you did not enjoy it. The charm and vibe from this game is something you don’t seem to see anymore and just makes me even more excited for a sequel.
Psychonauts pulled me out of my depression this time certainly will work wonders as a video game experience for you. I whole-heartedly recommend it and give it the extremely rare 10/10 for doing everything it needed to to make it one of the greatest video games of my generation. If you have not played this game, I implore you to go pick it up immediately after closing out this review. You will NOT regret it. It will truly make you feel like a kid again. And if you are a kid, it’ll open your mind up to just how good games can truly be.
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