Psychonauts Review

Last Edited – February 1, 2010 by Randall Crock
Filed under: Gaming, Review

Preface: this is my first review of a game, and we’ll see how it goes. I play a lot of video games, and just want to put in my input on the whole thing. I have also done some game development work, so I may also comment on any particularly interesting programming things as well

Psychonauts is the first game by Double Fine Productions and was launched for the PC, Xbox, and PS2. The story revolves around Razputin, know as Raz, and his desire to become a Psychic agent or Psychonaut. In the opening cutscene, Raz is discovered when he sneaks into a summer camp for psychics and is discovered. He is allowed to stay only until his parents come to pick him up, and isn’t allowed to participate in any training. When Coach Oleander allows Raz to complete Basic Braining, Raz is allowed to participate and uncovers a heinous scheme to take over the world.

Each level is based on the mind of a different character, with the environments varying from a battlefield, to a party, to a theater stage. Great care was taken in making each level unique, with each having a different quirk to game play and new challenges and obstacles. In one level, you help a man play a board game with his mental image of Napoleon Bonaparte to help him regain his sanity while in another, you have to impersonate government spies to locate the Milkman. Double Fine did an excellent job mixing up themes and challenges throughout the game. I was hooked as soon as I started each level, and each level was long enough, but not too long as to make it monotonous.

The first few levels are geared around getting Raz his merit badges, which allow him to use new psychic powers such as levitation, pyrokinesis, telekinesis, and invisibility. Let me tell you, it is endless fun setting squirrels on fire with your mind and beating up cats which can light you on fire. Each power has a use, and you will end up using all the skills, but more care could have been put into balancing them. I pretty much used the same 4 or 5 out of the 9 skills throughout the game. There would occasionally be a section where you had to use one particular skill, and sometimes you wouldn’t use it again for a few levels.

The story as a whole is very dark and not kid friendly despite the setting and art style. Some of the concepts they touch on are very heavy topics and very dark topics. The mood is lightened by some comedic lines, but this is certainly not a children’s game, which is also reflected in the T rating. I quite enjoyed the mix up to the usual game story elements of “bad guys over there, kill them,” and it was executed superbly.

Great care was also taken in creating each character and their relationships, giving them all a unique personality and quirks. Even the quick throwaway characters were given their own style and mannerisms.

Overall Psychonauts was an excellent game which drew me in with interesting graphics, gameplay, story, and all the the elements which make a game great. I finished it in less than 2 days, but spent 10 hours playing through. I didn’t spend as much time as I could collecting everything, but the story was too intriguing to let just sit around. I would highly recommend it as something to break up the usual games anyone plays.

Comments are closed.