Over 16 years have handed between Psychonauts video games, however not a lot time has elapsed for protagonist Razputin “Raz” Aquato. His scratchy, high-pitched voice nonetheless screams of youthful inexperience, and his actions nearly at all times present an eagerness to study.
That’s exactly what developer Double Advantageous Productions has additionally executed over time. Time has allowed this arthouse studio to hone its platforming craft, sharpen its already hilarious wit, and create a sequel that reveals off the super complexity of the human mind and the fun of unearthing its wonders. Psychonauts 2 invitations gamers to discover colourful dreamscapes that soften into harmful nightmares and shortly establishes the thought that just about each flip will result in one thing sudden and peculiar.
With summer season camp behind him, Raz is now a proficient intern for the Psychonauts, a psychic spy group of superbeings which are coping with a mole inside their ranks. Raz needs to be concerned in fixing this thriller, but his impulsiveness will get him into bother early on, and he shortly must undo his errors. The story roars out of the gate with foolish pleasure and by no means slows because of intelligent jokes and a splendidly realized solid of characters. Their banter is improbable and often gives deep insights into their motivations and personalities, particularly when Raz is diving by way of their minds. Some ideas are disturbing and discover severe psychological well being points, however Double Advantageous handles them with care, typically framing them in inventive methods.
Most of the dreamscapes Raz explores will doubtless elicit an audible “wow” because of their visualization and dynamic compositions. Colourful, loud, jagged, and nearly at all times holding a claymation-like aesthetic, these worlds dazzle with their creativity and double as glorious playgrounds for the platforming expertise at hand.
Though there’s no scarcity of animated story sequences to take a seat again and watch, Psychonauts 2 is a platformer at coronary heart. Raz, who simply occurs to be the son of acrobatic mother and father, follows of their footsteps with a bit extra grace and ability. His leaping prowess, and the controls bringing it to life, are improved, however he nonetheless isn’t transferring with the precision and fluidity of Mario. Just a little uncertainty and guesswork comes with gauging soar distances and seize factors. That mentioned, no platforming sequence is ever as unfairly difficult as the primary recreation’s death-dealing Meat Circus stage. Psychonauts 2 persistently delivers strong platforming enjoyable and encourages gamers to veer off the crushed path to search out secret collectibles and upgrades galore. Probably the most pleasurable collectibles to grab up are the Figments, two-dimensional items of artwork scattered all through the degrees that usually push the participant to throw warning to the wind.
Raz’s newfound acrobatic standing additionally transitions to fight, the place dodge rolling and creating house are paramount. That distance is crucial, as he doesn’t need to punch each enemy he comes throughout, and might now use a wide selection of psychic powers to attain victory from afar. He can begin them on fireplace, riddle them filled with holes with psi-blasts, or use different skills to carry the censors and different enemies to their knees. Fight is vastly improved over the unique recreation however is used sparsely, primarily inside quick arena-like conflicts or in opposition to bosses.
The highlight isn’t solely on platforming, nonetheless. Even these sequences typically really feel truncated given simply how typically Double Advantageous transitions to completely different gameplay sequences or story moments. The circulation works, because it retains the participant off-kilter and uncertain of what might occur subsequent. In a single second, I chopped up an cute bacon character to fry up and feed to a goat puppet, and in one other, I used to be balancing precariously on prime of an enormous bowling ball. Many of the gameplay sequences are pleasurable and mix properly with the platforming motion. The fixed shifting of gameplay sorts creates an issue in that the participant regularly should pause to assign particular skills to the motion buttons. A number of the powers are fairly ingenious; one even bringing a wildly completely different model of Raz into play.
Psychonauts 2 is especially about Raz’s psychic growth but in addition focuses intently on the lifetime of Ford Cruller, a personality who appeared within the first recreation and is born once more in a really fascinating method. For the sake of spoilers, I received’t go into Ford’s involvement too deeply, however satisfying (and stunning) payoffs come from it, and the worlds he introduces to Raz are alarming in the very best methods for a gaming expertise.
I adored nearly each second of Psychonauts 2. It achieves one thing I don’t typically see in video games – a continuous sense of awe as every of its worlds unfold. It took 16 years to achieve launch, however Double Advantageous has delivered an unbelievable sequel. I hope we get a 3rd installment that doesn’t take almost as lengthy to create.