There was a time when I was content with Psychonauts as a standalone game. I’d been a fan of it since it first released for PlayStation 2 in 2005 and had spent a few years hoping for some sort of follow-up, but nothing materialized for almost 10 years. By that point, I figured Psychonauts was simply destined to be yet another obscure cult classic, but Double Fine Studios had other plans. They launched their Fig campaign for Psychonauts 2 in 2015, and I couldn’t believe it. Psychonauts 2 could actually happen! And now, at last, it finally has! Psychonauts 2 is here, and it’s almost everything I could’ve hoped for!
Picking up almost immediately from the original Psychonauts, the sequel sees Raz finally making it to Psychonauts HQ (the “Mothelobe”), and becoming an official Psychonaut…intern. Well, gotta start somewhere, right? Considering Raz’s age and untested status in the eyes of the organization it makes sense, but our boy really can’t catch a break, can he? It’s okay though, one way or another, Raz still somehow manages to be at the center of events again, taking him on another journey through more incredibly colorful minds.
Psychonauts 2 keeps most of the abilities Raz learned in the first game, with only Confusion and Invisibility getting tossed. It was a shame to see them go, but DoubleFine makes up for it with new abilities like Time Bubble and Mental Connection. Existing abilities like Levitation have been tweaked somewhat too, making them a bit more usable and (in the case of Levitation) a little less broken. I do miss the mobility afforded by the old version of Levitation, but the new version works well in the context of the new game.
The whole cast from the previous game is back and just as out there as ever, but I think it’s the new characters that shine brightest. They’re all a blast to interact with, making conversations into actual fun events rather than an annoyance. There are so many jokes or ridiculous situations or just downright silly personality quirks on display that it’s hard to pass up a chance to talk to any of the major or minor characters.
As for the mental worlds and overworld, they really do manage to expand on the potential seen in the first game. They’re not necessarily all bigger than previous worlds, but they’re definitely all zanier. Giant mail sorting rooms, a sensory overload music festival, and a puppet cooking show are just a handful of the nutty places Raz finds himself in. The HQ and surrounding wilderness in the real world also have plenty of hidden secrets and areas to explore. It’s altogether excellent.
Then there’s everything else. Meeting the rest of Raz’s family, learning about how the Psychonauts came to be in the first place, seeing how the organization actually operates, and dealing with a real, Psychonauts-level threat are all things we get to see and do this time around. It’s all come together in a fantastic package so far, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the game shapes up. I must say that I’m actually shocked at how well Psychonauts 2 turned out considering how much time had passed and how these sorts of projects usually work out. I guess there are exceptions to every rule, and I suppose it’s fitting that a crazy game from a crazy studio would be one of them. So yeah, if you’re at all curious about this one, do yourself a favor and try it!
How do you feel about Psychonauts 2? Liking it? Not so much? Think you’ll give it a try if you haven’t already?
Image from the Psychonauts 2 Steam page