Not so very long ago, I ranked the wildly creative mindscapes featured in the original Psychonauts. Having finally caught up with the series, I now have the pleasure of ranking the worlds found in Psychonauts 2. Considering the franchise’s emphasis on psychology, it’s no surprise the Psychonauts games contain some of the most unique worlds I’ve seen in any game. Minor spoilers ahead concerning the levels’ themes and the characters they represent…
12: Tomb of the Sharkophagus – While this level was home to the game’s most shocking reveal and had some interesting points story-wise, it didn’t really feel like much of a level. It’s extremely short and has very little in terms of gameplay.
11: Strike City – Out of Ford’s three levels, I think this one gave us the smallest amount of insight into the character. It was also just a generally unappealing place and having to spend the majority of the level trying to control a ball was quite aggravating.
10: Ford’s Follicles – This was also a fairly weak level and might make people with an aversion to lots of hair a bit squeamish. This level was generally confusing, even if some of the symbolism was interesting.
9: Lucrecia’s Lament – Not much really happens in this level, but at least I found the flea circus rather entertaining, and the quilting section in the latter half was pleasant. I just wish it was a longer level with more gameplay.
8: Cassie’s Collection – I really enjoyed the library aesthetics in this one. Plus, this is also the world where you get Raz’s archetype ability, voiced by the same voice actor that played Gir in Invader Zim. (In case this seems random, Raz’s voice actor voiced Zim from the same TV show. It’s just too perfect!) On the downside, the level felt a bit too long, and Cassie’s story made the least sense to me.
7: Compton’s Cookoff – This level is rather short and has some pretty tight time limits, though it seems like you might be okay if you don’t finish in time? (I didn’t press the button fast enough for the second dish, and while the game progressed, I simply didn’t get the optional prize.) But I can forgive how stressed out this level made me feel because the whole cooking show idea was pretty entertaining, even if the boss fight was pretty gross (if not kind of hilarious)!
6: Loboto’s Labyrinth – This tutorial level was a lot more fun than Oleander’s Basic Braining from the first game, and the whole aesthetic of the office as it’s slowly overtaken by teeth and gums is both interesting and deeply disturbing. Oh, and definitely make sure you locate both of Loboto’s memory vaults. The second one in particular is pretty funny!
5: Cruller’s Correspondence – This level may be short, but it’s easily the strongest of Ford’s levels. It takes place in a giant mailroom filled with flying letters and whatnot, and it gives us the greatest insight into Ford and his past. The part where you type a certain someone’s name on the typewriter was rather touching.
4: Fatherland Follies – The final level portrays the mind of the one character whom I felt had no redeeming qualities and is an interesting take on how one’s perspective makes a major impact on our worldview. While it didn’t really feel like a final level, I was at least relieved it wasn’t a nightmare like Meat Circus from the first game. Also, the whole dark ride aesthetic is pretty cool.
3: Hollis’ Classroom/Hot Streak – While Hollis’ Classroom is nothing special, Hollis’ Hot Streak is a pretty interesting level that illustrates what can happen if Raz is careless inside someone’s mind. Having to re-form healthier mental connections was an interesting idea, as was the whole hospital/casino theme. What I liked about some of the puzzles in this level was that they took games of chance and had us figure out how to solve them in a way that involved being smart and logical, not on luck and gambling.
2: Bob’s Bottles – While this level had some frustrating platforming, I really liked the way they portrayed a mind drowning in alcoholism. Bob’s mind is one big ocean with little islands here and there, and it’s easy to understand how Bob feels helpless in a situation that’s gotten out of hand.
1: PSI-King’s Sensorium – This level revolves around a brain that’s been separated from its body and has gone through severe sensory deprivation. Once we find the PSI-King’s brain a temporary body, he has to come to terms with all the senses now overwhelming him. This level is quite entertaining and filled with vibrant colors, and as soon as I started playing through it, I had a feeling I had found my favorite world!
Image from the Psychonauts 2 Steam page