Review of Psychonauts 2: Empathy and creativity go hand in hand
“The empathetic storytelling and mind-bending level design make Psychonauts 2 a worthy sequel to one of gaming’s cult classics.”
Awesome level design
Narrative Motivated Platform
Adjust interesting ability
Complex juggling ability
Playing Psychonauts 2 feels a lot like rediscovering a long lost memory. For those who grew up in the age of mascot-driven 3D discs, it’s a familiar throwback to a time when games were all about collecting hundreds of items and Nickelodeon was king. It is an emotional time travel for those who want to reconnect with their childhood.
There’s a good reason it feels so nostalgic: Psychonauts 2 been done for a long time. The team at Double Fine began kicking off sequel ideas during the development of the first Psychonauts game, which came out in 2005. Several publishers rejected the idea for years, eventually leading the way. Double Fine set up a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2015 to bring it to life. While the game has evolved quite a bit since the PlayStation 2 days, fans are still not ready to let go of the past. That may be unhealthy behavior in some contexts, but here it is a positive one.
Psychonauts 2 skillful commentary on mental health topics through a creative speaker who is always sincere and empathetic. It can be stressful after 16 years of creative brainstorming, but it’s hard not to be mesmerized by a game that acts as a cheerleader for players of all ages.
Like its predecessor, Psychonauts 2 star Raz, a 10-year-old circus performer turned psychic who can jump into anyone’s mind. The next part starts right there Psychologist (and VR spinoff Rhombus of Ruin) is left unfinished, opening with a “previously turned on” segment that runs through each beat of the plot that one might have forgotten since 2005.
It’s a useful way to start an adventure, as there’s a lot to keep track of Psychonauts 2. Raz is now an intern for a prestigious group of psychic agents – the famous Psychonauts – and he must help investigate a mole in the organization that aims to revive the murderous psychic Maligula. That spy movie setup fits perfectly with the series, taking players through mind-bending levels where unreliable storytellers twist the truth. It’s kid-friendly Start.
It’s funny that we get such a poignant story here, because Psychonauts 2 really excels at telling smaller, intimate stories.
There’s a lot more going on, including a dive into the inner politics of Grulovia, a fictional country in the game. We learn all about Raz’s family in an opening sequence that pauses the main story’s momentum for a few hours. There is also an entire group of young interns who simply disappear for most of the game and reintegrate into the story as if they had been there the whole time.
Considering how long Double Fine kicked off the idea for the game, perhaps too many people went into the final project. It feels like three games’ worth of story crammed into one game, because who knows how long that will last until season three?
It’s funny that we get such a poignant story here, because Psychonauts 2 really excels at telling smaller, intimate stories. Every time Raz appears in someone’s head, we get a little bit of self-contained with emotional depth. One level tells a moving love story in which Raz must help a character overcome the mental barriers that are holding them back in their relationship (all visualized by Raz finding the seed to helping a farmer replant a shriveled garden). It’s the stories that ultimately help the game fulfill its true mission: Help us better understand each other’s struggles and encourage us to grow, no matter how hopeless we feel. .
Those little stories come to life thanks to an innovative level design that helps visualize abstract concepts in creative ways. In an early sequence, Raz tries to convince her teacher Hollis to let him do more dangerous missions by rewiring her brain. The level begins in a hospital setting, representing both Hollis’ past as a doctor and her fear of endangering her students. As Raz rewrites his mind, the level turns into a casino, as Hollis is suddenly willing to take high risks. A part of the background that previously revolved around X-rays suddenly changes when Raz jumps on top of a card game.
Nothing in Psychonauts 2 feel like busy work or content for the sake of content; everything has an autobiographical motive.
Each level is loaded with these types of ideas, which are naturally justifiable to each new foundation builder. Partly put Raz in the mind of a German who runs a bowling alley. As a result, players need to go around on giant bowling balls, skim through piles of green goop, and use hitters to activate new paths (or lanes). Another part turns performance anxiety into a cooking game show, where Raz needs to chop up sentient foods and drop them into a dish served to the judges to speak out loud. Even if a level doesn’t quite define what it’s doing, it’s always surprising and interesting to see how each mind palace is built.
Platforms are the norm for the genre, which makes all creative visual designs that much more important. Raz can grind rails, bounce on ropes, swing from branch to branch, etc. Various PSI Powers add some extra mechanics to the mix, allowing Raz to freeze time or burn objects. wooden body, but the experience is largely unchanged from 2005. Instead, Double Fine doubles down on building more complex playing fields for Raz to get through. It’s a series of therapeutic amusement park rides (literally, in one case).
Nothing in Psychonauts 2 feel like busy work or content for the sake of content; everything has an autobiographical motive. Even collectibles serve a larger purpose. Like the first game, the drawings indicate the next position instead of objective markers. Vault can be opened to view a small slide show of a character’s backstory. And, of course, players can once again track down emotional pieces of baggage that remain the best movie of the series.
The game doesn’t reinvent the genre, because it’s unnecessary. It recognizes that those ideas can help tell a meaningful story, even if the collectible platformer is now outdated. As Psychonauts 2 tells players that anyone can thrive, it believes video games can always reach new heights without having to give up their history.
The fighting side of Psychonauts 2 has its own clever twist. Each enemy is some manifestation of mental illness. Panic attacks, for example, appear as erratic monsters that need to be slowed down to better handle them. It is fun to see a new condition emerge and how it is transformed into a physical being.
Raz can do basic punches and dodge attacks, both of which feel a bit underpowered, but PSI Powers is what makes battles more enjoyable. Players gain different powers through the game, which function both in and out of combat. Mental connection allows players to try to solve thoughtless knots, but they can also tie ropes to enemies and pull them in. In many battles, I found myself getting the most out of my toolkit instead of just sticking to a basic round of attacks.
Psychonauts 2 It may not be perfect, but it’s always looking for its players. Empathy is not just a narrative theme; It is at the heart of game design.
Abilities evolve throughout the game, constantly adding new utility to each ability. Every time Raz levels up by collecting different items, he gets a skill point that can unlock several upgrades for each power. Players can also purchase and equip pins for added abilities. There’s a surprising amount of potential to each tool, giving players a good reason to enter the “collect and rank” loop.
However, switching between powers can be a difficult one. Capabilities are mapped to controller triggers and caches, so four abilities can be active at the same time. They can be swapped and remapped on the fly via an ability wheel, but it can be tricky to navigate among seagulls. I often find that the swap doesn’t take place, forcing me to go back to the menu to try again. All in all, juggling can be a bit confusing, and I find myself wishing that a few powers, like a balloon needed for navigation, would just be permanently mapped to a button.
Those who find these battles offensive can activate “narrative combat” and reduce their opponent’s health. That kind of thoughtful design is evident in the game’s first few moments, when a splash screen, complete with links to helpful resources, encourages players who might otherwise struggle with mental health themes of the game to rest. Psychonauts 2 may not be perfect, but it always is its player search. Empathy is not just a narrative theme; It is at the heart of game design.
Psychonauts 2 is a sweet platformer that just wants the best for its characters and players. By visualizing mental health issues through innovative level design, Double Fine is able to tell a series of clever stories where gameplay and story go hand in hand. It has a few personal flaws in its frenetic and over-exciting battle story, but if Psychonauts 2 teach us anything, that we are not defined by our problems.
Is there a better option?
It takes two has a similar approach to the narrative game mix, with a tighter gameplay. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart features better combat to combine with its background spectacle.
How long will it last?
Depending on how much you collect, it will take about 10 to 15 hours. You can spend a lot of time getting every collectible and reaching the maximum rank after rolling the credits.
Should you buy it?
Correct. Psychonauts 2 is a friendly platform for players of all ages and those already familiar with the series. It’s also available on Xbox Game Pass, which is a big plus.
Psychonauts 2 was evaluated using the Xbox Series X code provided by Microsoft.