Psychonauts 2 Review: Cult Hit Follow-Up Is Just as Zany, Goofy, and Eclectic


Psychonauts 2 is prepared — and it is right here. Tell that to somebody from the late ‘00s and they seemingly would not consider you. The authentic Psychonauts, launched in 2005 on the unique Xbox, PlayStation 2 and PC, had a tortured growth course of. Though it had Grim Fandango and Full Throttle director Tim Schafer on the helm, it was the primary sport for his new studio Double Fine. That resulted in all kinds of issues, leading to Microsoft pulling an exclusivity deal halfway by means of manufacturing. Double Fine discovered a brand new accomplice and Psychonauts launched to important acclaim, but it surely discovered few patrons, forcing its new writer to exit the online game trade altogether. No marvel then that Schafer struggled to get Psychonauts 2 off the bottom — and that it is had its personal share of setbacks.

When Psychonauts 2 was first introduced in late 2015, Double Fine stated it was turning to crowdfunding to cowl partial growth prices, simply as it had for different video games too. The marketing campaign was profitable and a few years later, the studio secured a publishing cope with Payday 2 mum or dad Starbreeze Studios. But quickly, points emerged. First, Double Fine delayed Psychonauts 2 by no less than a yr, and then Starbreeze lurched in direction of insolvency resulting from its personal troubles, forcing the makers to chop out boss battles, Schafer admitted. Imagine then the saviour turned out to be Microsoft — the corporate that had ditched them for being “expensive and late” on Psychonauts — who acquired the studio as it sought to construct up Xbox’s first-party base. The miracles time can obtain.

Psychonauts 2 — which isn’t an Xbox unique, regardless of the Microsoft backing, although it’s coming to Game Pass on day one, as a free download — is centred on the younger gifted psychic Razputin (voiced by Richard Horvitz) who can bounce into individuals’s minds. He returns from Psychonauts and Psychonauts within the Rhombus of Ruin, a brief VR title launched in 2017 that bridges the story of the 2 mainline video games. Double Fine is aware of that its digital reality-only existence restricted its publicity (and that is it been a few years since we noticed Raz), which is why Psychonauts 2 opens with a cutscene that reintroduces the protagonist and tells us what went down within the Rhombus of Ruin. Following these heroics, Raz and Co. arrive on the Psychonauts headquarters Motherlobe, the place Raz units out to unravel a brand new thriller which may contain a mole, necromancy, and (clearly) some bacon.

Building on its predecessor’s themes, Psychonauts 2 continues to discover the human mind: our thought processes, resetting neural pathways, and being open to new concepts. In phrases of gameplay, that manifests itself in Raz linking collectively completely different phrases — one of many sport’s smartest concepts. It teaches vital classes to youngsters (Psychonauts’ main viewers) as gamers uncover how the identical phrases, when related to completely different phrases, can change in which means, and additionally your considering, totally. That can inevitably trigger issues. Raz is informed as soon as that he should not manipulate somebody’s thoughts in a bid to bend it to his will — there is a little bit of Inception to the narrative, sure — however Psychonauts 2 is contradictory in that it retains asking the participant to just do that, for its gameplay loop depends upon it.

But do not take any of that to imply it is dour, honest, and self-serious. I’ll have introduced it in a simple vogue, however that is solely as a result of I’m not Tim Schafer. Psychonauts 2 retains the primary sport’s zany sensibilities and constantly infuses light-hearted humour into its heavyweight subjects. The sport tells you that upfront with an advisory, noting that it options (*2*) It jokes about different issues too — you’ll hear a lot of it as you stroll previous non-player characters (NPCs) — and Raz’s situation appears a part of it. A cadet in Psychonauts, he is an intern in Psychonauts 2. Raz makes no progress it doesn’t matter what he achieves — is that this as a result of adults suppose youngsters aren’t able to a lot?

As for gameplay mechanics, Raz has plenty of psychic powers, most of that are getting back from Psychonauts. There’s levitation, pyrokinesis, telekinesis, clairvoyance, PSI blast, and psychological connection. PSI blasts are primarily vitality projectiles that make it easier to thrust back enemies and shatter objects. With clairvoyance, Raz can see the world from another person’s perspective, which is each helpful and hilarious as everybody “sees” you in a different way. For some, you is perhaps a cartoon, and for others you are a dustbin. Double Fine says these will even change as the story progresses. In Psychonauts 2, you’ll be able to equip 4 powers to the shoulder and set off buttons, up from three in Psychonauts. As earlier than, you’ll be able to change between them on the fly, and acing a stage is understanding which PSI powers to make use of.

Psychonauts 2 review mental connection Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts deputy head Hollis Forsythe in Psychonauts 2
Photo Credit: Double Fine/Xbox

Because Psychonauts 2 is a sport about youngsters and for teenagers, its gameplay options additionally mirror this alternative. In settings, you’ll be able to select from certainly one of or all three choices. That contains no harm when Raz falls from heights, making Raz very robust in fight to place the emphasis on story, and the last word: invincibility. That would permit youngsters, who have not developed the requisite dexterity, to give attention to fewer components. Psychonauts 2 additionally helps you if you happen to aren’t capable of finding your method, making certain that everybody of all ages and vocabulary power can play. But in different circumstances, like boss fights, it would not consider in serving to you an excessive amount of. That stated, I’ve but to run into one thing akin to the Psychonauts‘s remaining stage that was identified for its extraordinarily troublesome nature and was fastened solely years later.

The platformer bits in Psychonauts 2 are pleasurable and simple to choose up, although I would not say I’ve seen something in my time spent with the sport that was progressive. This yr alone, we have seen the likes of It Takes Two, a superb co-op journey that borrowed and traded on a legion of platforming components to craft its myriad worlds, every wholly completely different from the one earlier than it. As with Psychonauts, the USP for Psychonauts 2 stays its eclectic nature, full of all kinds of latest and returning goofy characters. Add to that its visible aesthetic that mimics hand-drawn comedian books, channelling an interior Tim Burton-esque vibe, and as if it has been launched by means of a Technicolor post-processing system.

Performance was by no means a difficulty for me with Psychonauts 2. It regarded and ran nice on the Xbox One X, delivering a constant 30fps at 4K decision. It’s truthfully not a title that wants next-gen graphics, although it does carry out higher if you happen to’ve one. Exclusive to Xbox Series S/X on next-gen consoles, Double Fine claims Psychonauts 2 will ship 60fps at 4K on the mightier Series X, and 60fps at 2880×1620 on Series S. You may also get 120fps although the decision will endure. The Series S/X model can be the one strategy to play Psychonauts 2 in HDR. On OG Xbox One and PS4, it is locked at 30fps on full-HD. PS4 Pro homeowners can be upgraded to 1440p. You can run Psychonauts 2 on PlayStation 5 through backward compatibility — that additionally unlocks 60fps.

I solely got here throughout one bug in Psychonauts 2, with Raz getting caught in some locations you could bounce into however then cannot bounce out of. It’s been a cultured expertise in any other case, but once more proving that video games are higher delayed than rushed. Psychonauts 2 has confronted an extended uphill battle, however its launch is proof that some battles are definitely worth the slog.


  • Zany, goofy, and eclectic
  • Hand-drawn visible aesthetic
  • Embraces heavy concepts
  • Smartly presents ideas
  • Doesn’t discuss all the way down to viewers
  • Special gameplay settings for teenagers
  • NPC chatter is a bonus deal with
  • Included with Xbox Game Pass


  • Narrative conflicts with gameplay loop
  • Platforming bits aren’t progressive
  • Environmental bug

Rating (out of 10): 7

Psychonauts 2 is out there August 25 on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Xbox Cloud Gaming, PlayStation 4, and Windows PCs.

It prices Rs. 1,299 on Steam, Rs. 3,999 on Microsoft Store, and Rs. 4,995 on PlayStation Store. Game Pass Ultimate (which incorporates Xbox Cloud Gaming) prices Rs. 699 per 30 days.

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