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Psychonauts 2

25 August 2021
Psychonauts 2 - cover art
Glitchwave rating
4.13 / 5.0
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583 Ratings / 6 Reviews
#116 All-time
#3 for 2021
Razputin Aquato, a young psychic must reunite the disbanded Psychonauts, a group of elite psychic agents, and stop a sinister plot that threatens reality. He does so by entering the twisted minds of the cast of characters and platforming, puzzle solving, and fighting until their past and present traumas are dealt with.
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This was a game that was fifteen years in the making, needless to say that the wait was worth it as it picks up immediately where the previous entry left off by having our hero Raz enter the psychonauts academy following a brief detour where he captures the main villain of the previous game. The story builds on its predecessor in a way that feels like a natural continuation of that game whilst tweaking elements here and there to make it seem less dated than what came before.

I have to say that it's a bit disappointing that the 00s aesthetics is no longer present here even though that's fundamentally a good thing given how campy the original was for its nickelodeon style presentation. Characters aren't as bizarrely designed this time around with even our returning cast looking more conventional than they did previously, the voice acting is also more timeless here rather than the goofy direction the cast was given in the first game. Again, it’s an improvement on a technical level but I do miss the campiness of the original. That aside, everything here has been improved for the better, the psychonauts academy is bigger and more detailed than the campsite from the original and there's plenty more to do throughout the facility with Raz’s new and returning psychic abilities. The story is also much better paced as that an issue I had with the original game as it feels that a whole lot happens in such short amount of time in that story. The real winner here is the themes of mental health which go even deeper than in the original, this is mainly due to a lack of censorship now that themes such as homosexuality and depression are no longer taboo subjects in kids’ media. It doesn't feel like virtue signalling either as you can easily see where the story would've censored itself had it been released shortly after the original game that they obviously no longer needed to do. I may miss the campiness of the original, however I feel that its absence is necessary for the themes to truly shine in this game.

It's a long-awaited sequel that was well worth the wait, most of these releases are little more than cash grabs looking to capitalise off of people's nostalgia, this on the other hand was made with love and care from the very people who brought this world to life all of those years ago.
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Foxylover92 2021-12-15T10:00:33Z
2021-12-15T10:00:33Z
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Todo o charme, bom humor e criatividade que tiraram o primeiro Psychonauts da mediocridade são elevados à enésima potência nesta que é uma das melhores sequências que já joguei na minha vida. Embora o gameplay ainda não seja impecável, os quinze anos que separam os dois jogos se traduzem em um salto gigantesco na qualidade do texto, level design e outros vários elementos.

Praticamente todos os cenários são deliciosos de explorar e o jogo te surpreende com soluções visuais e textuais criativas e sensíveis em igual medida pra dar forma aos temas delicados dos quais trata. Tim Schafer e cia. dão aula aqui de como não se esconder de assuntos considerados espinhosos no universo dos jogos eletrônicos.

É um jogo de plataforma misturado com puzzle e ação quase impecável, mas mais que isso, Psychonauts 2 é de uma imaginação e sensibilidade ímpares, daquelas obras que nos lembram como vídeo-games podem ser especiais.
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gabrielctps 2023-10-12T15:30:20Z
2023-10-12T15:30:20Z
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Back in 2012, seven years and one whole generation of gaming after the release of Psychonauts, my neighbor in high school had taken to Twitter to express a yearning for the eventual release of a sequel to this 3D platformer cult classic. Somehow, none other than the gaming auteur extraordinaire behind Psychonauts, Tim Schaffer, was looking through tweets relating to his brainchild that evening and replied to my neighbor's tweet, assuring him that all hope for a sequel was not lost. The attention from Tim was exciting enough, but receiving a glimmer of confidence that his wishes for a follow-up to one of his favorite games straight from the proverbial horse's mouth was a life-affirming experience. Upon seeing this conversation chain on Twitter, I was in awe that Tim Schaffer took the time to reply to my neighbor. Still, I was sure that Tim was merely humoring him in regards to Double Fine developing a long-awaited sequel to Psychonauts. Tim surely knows it’s a poor PR move to disappoint the faithful, albeit baseless and overly optimistic, wishes of his fans via social media interactions. However, by the 2010s, Double Fine seemed to have lost its luster in putting in their best creative efforts for every subsequent release. The impact of every game the company released over that decade amounted to nothing, like a tepid splash of tossing a pebble into a reservoir. Nine years after this moment and sixteen years after the release of Psychonauts, it turns out that my cynicism had got the best of me and Tim’s reply tweet was a genuine hint of what he and his team at Double Fine were developing for so many years. The long awaited sequel to Double Fine’s magnum opus was finally released in 2021, and the first continued property Tim Schaffer released throughout his entire career allowed him to reap the benefits of his hard work. Fans of the first game were ecstatic, but I retained my skepticism. The first Psychonauts has a monumental significance to the 3D platformer genre and its estranged sequel needed to prove its worth.

Fortunately, the existence of Psychonauts 2 never felt shoehorned in the narrative like many other sequels do. The first game ended on a bit of a cliffhanger with Lily’s father, the leader of the Psychonauts, being captured by psychic terrorists, calling the rest of his squadron into action and giving Raz his first job as a certified Psychonaut. The opening sequence finds Raz in a cubicle, lulling the player into thinking that the precocious Razputin has trapped himself into a mind-numbing desk job after vying so passionately to enter the adult Psychonaut world. It is soon revealed that this is merely part of the psychological construct in the mind of Dr. Loboto, the twisted dental surgeon from the previous game. Raz, with the help of agents Nein and Vodello, are digging through the mind of the shower cap-wearing madman to find out who hired him to kidnap their leader and harvest his brain. The results of Loboto’s mind are inconclusive, but they do lead to shocking new intel about the resurrection of Maligula: a cataclysmic force of nature and the oldest enemy of the Psychonauts. Sasha keeps interrogating Loboto while the rest of the Psychonauts agency is on lockdown, for there is a mole in the agency working to undermine the Psychonauts with the resurrection of Maligula. Among all of the strained circumstances, Raz also has to hurdle over the next level of bureaucratic constraints that hinder his progress becoming a Psychonaut agent: the Psychonauts intern program.

Psychonauts 2 may take place mere days after the events of the first game, but the presentation of the game is indicative of how long it’s really been since we’ve last seen Raz and the rest of the cerebral special forces. The first Psychonauts game was admittedly not the most appealing game of its era in terms of its visuals. Its graphics weren’t underdeveloped, but the rough-hewn, borderline expressionist approach to the animated aesthetic divided people into two sides, with one side adoring the visual quirks while the other thought it was rather ugly. I’m in the former camp, and I worried that almost two decades of graphical progress would sterilize one of the most charming aspects of the first Psychonauts. Psychonaut 2’s graphics are miles sharper and cleaner as expected, but the impressive factor that Psychonauts 2 achieved was using years of graphical advancements to refine the first game’s idiosyncratic style rather than dilute it to a point of “ exceptional objective quality.” Psychonauts 2 looks almost exactly like its predecessor, but that high-definition visual sheen makes a world of difference. The misshapen, globular textures of both the character models and the foregrounds have been refined to a point of silky smoothness. The characters are far more animated than they ever were because the cinematics of Psychonauts 2 look up to par with a computer animated film. All the while, they still retain that claymation-esque charm that made the first game appealing. For the latter camp who were irked by Double Fine’s crude artistry, the fuzziness that might have marred the graphics in the first game have been polished to the point where there is no indiscernibility in the foregrounds. Psychonauts 2’s graphics have ascended past the acquired taste graphics of the first game into something that rivals any modern Hollywood animation studio.

Psychonauts controls however were not an acquired taste that I found endearing. The stiff, finicky platforming and combat controls were always awkward and inadvertently exposed Double Fine’s inexperience in developing games for the 3D platformer genre. I forgave Double Fine’s modest efforts because the entire Psychonauts experience was so substantial in every other department. In saying that, there is a solid reason as to why the platforming-intensive “Meat Circus” level from the first game is so maligned as it is. Using the first Psychonauts as a template for seventeen years of development, Double Fine have successfully refined the gameplay of Psychonauts to a point of competency. Raz still possesses the same aerodynamic abilities he did in the first game, and his movement has been slightly refined to make executing all of his moves more accommodating for the player. His jumps are more responsive and the swinging trajectory on ropes and poles is much less unhinged. Raz’s punching move is less confined to certain movement axes, something awkward from the first game that felt like combat was conducted via the D-Pad. The enhanced controls regarding everything from the first game lead me to believe that Double Fine is a studio that never gets it right on their first attempt. The new wall-jumping feature has a troubling inconsistency of needing to jump more than once to activate it. While this move is new to the series, wall jumping is so commonplace in the genre that it verges on being a tired cliche. Double Fine can’t be faulted too much for their first try at implementing this, but one would think they would have plenty of notes to copy from several other games that have already perfected it. Raz’s marginally more polished controls in Psychonauts 2 still may not be as smooth as other 3D platformers, even the games that are decades older than it, but at least leaps of improvement were made over the stilted controls of the first game, making them acceptable by normal 3D platformer standards.

At this point with Raz as a young cadet, he became the equivalent of a psychic eagle scout at the end of the first game. Raz has already become equipped with all of the requisite special psychic abilities, and the tutorial level of Psychonauts 2 serves to refresh the player on their functions. It may be surprising that Raz’s psychic education has been rendered obsolete because his badges have also been tweaked in the same fashion as his overall movement. Returning badges like the psi-blaster and pyrokinesis function the same as they always have, but Psychonauts 2 includes some new, unfamiliar quirks. The Psi-blaster for instance no longer requires ammo to use, but the badge needs a cooldown period after a certain number of consecutive shots. Pyrokinesis no longer needs to target one enemy with a thermometer signifying the ignition point, for now it engulfs a range of enemies in Raz’s vicinity in a fiery inferno. Other returning badges like telekinesis and levitation did not require any considerable reconsideration, but the levitation move now has a limit to how long Raz can glide in the air. Raz strips away his shield, invisibility, and confusion badges, and it’s the developers method of trimming the fat from the first game. These powers seemed essential in providing an eclectic array of psychic abilities, but missing badges only proved to be useful for a couple of instances before they were tucked away indefinitely in Raz’s inventory. Instead of racking their brains trying to think of new ways to squeeze more juice out of the underutilized badges, the developers have swapped them with three new badges. While mental connection, time bubble, and projection are all mainly used for traversal, they all have different uses and the game constantly provides new obstacles to overcome once Raz earns them. Finding a need to mix and match all of Raz’s psychic powers instead of using only a few of them makes the psychic power system more vital to the gameplay, even if having to bring up the badge menu more often becomes tiring as a result.

Double Fine flaunts their efforts to improve upon Psychonauts gameplay by making the sequel much more combat intensive. Censors and the few other enemies that made up the piddly number of combat obstacles only proved to be an annoyance rather than a formidable challenge. The stern, business-clad Censors make a return to expunge Raz from someone’s consciousness, and now they are strapped with an army of new defensive forces. Censors represent a vague construct of a mental immune system, but these new mental malcontents are inspired by a litany of negative cognitive constructs that clutter the mind and also range in abstraction. Enemies found as commonly as Censors include Doubts: small, animated globs of sludgy goop and airborne, insect-like Regrets that drop anvils. Bad Ideas are animalistic, quadrupedal enemies that litter the stage with bombs. Sturdier enemies like the Judges and (implicit) drug-induced Panic Attacks act as mini-bosses among the more common foes. My favorite of the new enemies is the Enabler, a cheery little git whose laser-powered baton grants the other enemies invulnerability. I can’t help but laugh at the clever parallel this enemy represents, in that all medic enemies “enable” problematic foes to keep being antagonistic to the player. Enemy encounters are less randomly generated in Psychonauts 2 as it seems that they only ambush Raz on any platform that vaguely represents a makeshift arena. The means of dispatching enemies is entirely up to the player, but some enemies require specific psychic moves to eliminate. For example, clairvoyance can still be used for the novel reason of seeing wacky renditions of Raz through the eyes of the NPCs, but Psychonauts 2 implements it while fighting the Bad Mood enemy by playing armchair psychologist and alleviating the source of it. Ability-specific enemies may admittedly cause an awkward rift in combat pacing, but I also appreciate the greater emphasis on getting the most out of Raz’s psychic abilities. Overall, Psychonauts 2 finally makes what seemed like obligatory platformer combat into something engaging.

Raz has now graduated from the humble, forested grounds of Camp Whispering Rock into broader horizons to further his Psychonaut related endeavors. Because of this, the Hogwarts of psychics no longer serves as the hub. Instead, the Motherlobe, the psychic’s Ministry of Magic, is Raz’s base in reality that contrasts with the conscious realm. Psychonauts HQ is a bustling corporate facility that exudes the magnificent and remote scope of something like the Hall of Justice. The walls of the Motherlobe are clean without being sterile and its unorthodox inner architecture screams workplace of the future. What’s even more futuristic about the Motherlobe is how ergonomic it seems, progressing the standard of a comfortable workspace for every employee. The inclusion of a bowling alley, barbershop, and hip noodle cafe indicates that morale in the Motherlobe is staggeringly high, or at least for a place where the HR department has to deal with cases of co-workers exploding each others heads on too many occasions. The Motherlobe might be on lockdown, but the hub of Psychonauts 2 is vaster than the confines of the corporate headquarters. The Motherlobe is settled in a lake surrounding a wooded area over the hills of where Whispering Rock is located, and the hub extends far past the Psychonauts base of operations. On the far end of the hub lies the “Questionable Area”, a parody of off road side attractions with the kind of chintzy bullshit one would expect from these places. The area in between is a quarry, rich with glimmering purple minerals and the location of Otto Mentallis, the tech whiz of the original Psychonauts crew, and his stop-all shop for psychokinetic gadgets. As much as I lauded Whispering Rock as an exceptional hub, I vastly prefer the HQ and the surrounding areas. I came to realize that I only liked Whispering Rock in its contrast to the subconscious levels. It served as a fine juxtaposition between the fantasy of the mind and the eventual cooldown of reality. However, Whispering Rock was marred by the fact that traversing through the campgrounds resulted in an excruciatingly long loading screen between each section. Load times in Psychonauts 2 trudge along just as glacially, but at least each section of the hub is divided spatially with enough ground to cover before the player is subjected to a moving image of a wild animal with a plodding loading bar below it. Whispering Rock is the better hub in concept, but I’m favoring the less constricted and compact hub in Psychonauts 2 for convenience.

Of course, the effectiveness of any game’s hub world is based on the quality of the levels that branch off it, especially in the case of Psychonauts. The myriad of minds that serve as levels are the crux of Psychonauts identity, and the sequel presents us with roughly a dozen new minds to excavate through. The boundless parameters of the human psyche premise of the first Psychonauts made for some of the most unique and varied levels featured in a 3D platformer, and Psychonauts 2 follows suit with the same explosion of creative ideas. Agent Hollis’s newfound gambling habit has warped her subconsciousness into a flashy, extravagant casino level that reminds me of Sae Nijima’s palace in Persona 5, except with a hospital as the reality adjacent hybrid instead of a legal building. The beachy Bob’s Bottles exudes a languid seaside melancholy reminiscent of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Cassie’s Collection further highlights the influences of the sharp, expressionist illustrations always subtly present in Psychonauts’s design. The irregular, unmarked brain Raz plants inside Nick from the mailroom , revealed to be Psychonauts agent Helmut Fullbear, is an acid-laced odyssey straight from the playbook of Sgt. Pepper. The heavy use of surreal imagery and lurid psychedelic colors make this level aesthetic eye-candy and a standout among all the others.

Like any standard evolution of a gaming franchise, Psychonauts 2 is an easier game due to fixing the apparent mistakes of the first one. Psychonauts 2 omits the numbered life system which ejects Raz from someone's mind upon losing all of them, acting as a fair game over penalty. Raz instead continues from a checkpoint after losing all of his health like most of the first game’s 3D platformer contemporaries on the PS2. Pink cobwebs that clogged brain activity are no longer present as collecting them proved no worth beyond a task for completionists. Psychonauts 2 offers new collectables like two half brains that make for a whole extra unit of health and artifacts that automatically increase Raz’s level. Returning collectibles like vaults, emotional baggage, and figments are far more manageable to amass thanks to the baggage giving a louder sobbing indicator of their presence and figments being far less translucent and feathery.

Making collectibles easier to gather is a fine evolution, but I’m afraid that accessibility bleeds into every facet of Psychonauts 2 a little too much. Besides their imaginative themes and aesthetics, what made the mind levels in the first Psychonauts extraordinary was the developers implementing Tim Schaffer’s expertise of point-and-click adventure design. The slow, obtuse, puzzle-like progression seen in levels like “The Milkman Conspiracy” and “Waterloo World” transcended all of the sandbox or linear designed 3D platformers I had played. Oftentimes, I’d rack my brain trying to figure out what the levels intended me to do or what the next sequence was, but I came to greatly appreciate their rich, multiple layers of design once I completed them. Linears levels like “Coach Oleander’s Basic Braining” and “Milla’s Dance Party” served as adequate introductory levels, but they were leagues inferior to the brilliance of the later levels that used Tim’s idiosyncratic design philosophy. Unfortunately for the sake of accessibility, most of Psychonauts 2 levels are linear excursions like the more underwhelming levels in the first game. As visually arresting as the “PSI King’s Sensorium” is, each section of this level is a straightforward trek with simple platforming gimmicks. Other levels like “Bob’s Bottles” and “Cassie’s Collections” are also linear pathways divided into a few sections branching from a hub. “Compton’s Cookoff” is one standout level that does not emulate a point-and-click adventure game, but it's the one level with a distinctive design theme that has never been used in either Psychonauts title. To illustrate the patriarchal Boole’s social anxiety, Raz must craft an artisan dish for three harshly critical goat puppets that strongly resemble his Psychonaut cohorts. Raz must become the Iron Chef and take the excitable ingredients in the audience to four work stations while racing against the clock. “Compton’s Cookoff” may be shorter than the others, but it was the only level in the game that offered something fresh and unorthodox. I thought it was the only level that also provided a steep challenge, but it turns out that the player doesn’t have to complete the task within the time limit. C’mon Tim: people didn’t avoid purchasing the first game because it was too difficult.

Tim Schaffer’s fear of creating another box office bomb is evident in other facets than making the game more simpler than the first. A sequel to a sought after game from several years ago would be enough to triple the amount of earnings compared to the previous title, but Tim Schaffer’s worries lied in what those people would make of Psychonauts 2 once they purchased it. You see, the social culture landscape has shifted dramatically since Psychonauts was released in 2005. Psychonauts didn’t feature any objectionable content when it was released, but I’m sure Bobby Zilch’s bullying, the suicide pact between Clem and Crystal, and Raz groaning at the slow talking of Vernon Tripe would irk someone these days. That, and I know that Tim has collaborated with a certain con artist in her campaign to dishonestly nitpick all of the “problematic” aspects of gaming in the name of social justice, probably as extra income he wasn’t earning through game sales. Psychonauts was one of the funniest games I’ve ever played, but I know through experience that what I think is funny derives contention with other people from my generation. Psychonauts 2 attempts to cater to the more socially-conscious sensibilities of the millennial/zoomer marketplace to a desperate degree. Immediately before the game even begins, a trigger warning pops up to alert the player of the game’s content. Warnings involving themes of depression and anxiety are at least understandable, but dentistry? I don’t know anyone who likes going to the dentist, but never to the extent where depictions of teeth and operating tables trigger PTSD-like symptoms in someone. Raz uses “rats!” as an interjection and soon turns around to apologize to a rat in the Motherlobe and how he should use his words more carefully. Oy vey; give me a break, Tim. Puns seem to be the primary source of humor, and puns are the lowest, safest form of comedy there is. Whenever I accidentally find myself using a pun when writing, there is a reason why I disclaim that the pun was unintentional. If you are one of those corny assclowns who like puns, you disgust me. But the most egregious thing that the opening disclaimer does is overtly stating that Psychonauts is a game of empathy and understanding. I got that impression during the first game without the message being crammed down my throat, thank you very much. Tim and his team aren’t just mollycoddling his audience with this disclaimer, but patronizing them for good measures.

Many other campers weren’t as astute as Raz or as connected to the Psychonauts via family like Lili, so most of them do not make an appearance during Psychonauts 2’s next-level leap from training. Psychonauts 2 offers an entirely new team of young colleagues for Raz to associate with: the group of teenage psychics in the same intern program as Raz. While these adolescents are more driven than the children at Whispering Rock, they are much more dull as a collective. I feel as if Double Fine attempted to make the band of six teenagers a medley of diverse character traits and backgrounds like having a handicapped intern, a black intern, and probably a bisexual trans intern (I don’t know, Lizzie maybe?) to appease their young demographic, but they all have the same spry, overly positive, hipster-esque personalities. Sam Boole has a few distinctive quirks, but she pales in comparison to her unhinged younger brother from the first game. These characters are only proven to be half-assed and supplementary, which is probably why Double Fine shifts their focus to the gereatric sextet that make up the original Psychonauts. The older characters are much more fleshed out due to their subconsciousness serving as the basis of the mind levels, but the returning characters are a little more solemn than they were in the first game. My favorite new characters are Raz’s circus family who have set up shop near the Questionable Area. Only Raz’s family unit offers a collective of bright characters with their own quirks.

However, just because the elements that make up Psychonaut 2’s narrative are hard to stomach doesn’t mean the game isn’t substantial. Somehow, Psychonauts 2 offers a story that is better paced, more engaging, and more thought provoking than the goofy, haphazardly executed story in the first Psychonauts. At first, this doesn’t seem to be the case. The looming threat of Maligula is introduced as early as the tutorial level inside of Loboto’s mind, but the story seems to veer in another direction as soon as Raz arrives at the Motherlobe. The stern Agent Hollis, the director of the intern program, undermines Raz’s psychic abilities because he’s just a kid. As an act of defiance, he manipulates her cognition to shift her focus, an incredibly unethical move that Raz has to fix before Hollis loses herself. Themes of condescension towards children’s potential were already prevalent in the first game, and either Sasha or Milla could vouch for Raz as he proved his worth by saving them and his fellow campers. It doesn’t make sense to continue this as a theme, but it manages to sideline before popping up and become pertinent again as the game progresses.

Raz finds out that the only person who is capable of destroying Maligula is none other than the good ol’ omniscient bacon-enthusiast Ford Cruller. However, Ford’s senility has not mended itself from the past game, and the rest of the first half of Psychonauts 2 is dedicated to restoring his fractured mind in three mini-levels. Through this process, we learn that Ford’s power is not to vanquish Maligula, but to control her. Ford’s memories reveal that Maligula was once the hidden seventh member of the original Psychonauts, Lucretia Mux. Ford also courted her once upon a time which is why when given the opportunity to vanquish her, he instead did something else to protect her. The big twist that marks the end of the first half is that Lucretia/Maligula is Raz’s aunt who has been posing as Raz’s deceased grandmother since Ford used the Astrolathe to plant false memories in her, subduing her Maligula form. Raz is appalled at Ford’s actions which serves as a substantial arc with Raz as a character. His idolatry towards these Psychonaut legends wanes significantly after traversing through their minds and learning that they are all deeply flawed individuals. His experience in Psychonauts 2 reduces his ambitions, but to a necessary healthier level.

The result of the second half provides an even bigger twist that blows off the hinges of the mystery. Like the second half of the first game, the main hub relocates to another area. Green Needle Gulch is the abandoned genesis point of the Psychonauts agency and the location of the Astrolathe. After receiving some aid from two original agents to clear off the Astrolathe, the OG Psychonauts reunite to subdue Lucretia’s Maligula form. Before the process is complete, Agent Zanotto, who shirks his brainless mirage here, tries to stop the process. Thinking this scene is a tad askew, Raz and Lili explore Truman's mind to find out that the brain inside is not his own. One character I forgot to mention is Nick, a pitiable little man whose name seemingly cannot be spoken without his mailroom title attached. Recovering Nick’s brain has been a branching quest for Raz since the first half, sidelined enough to forget about it. Nick from the mailroom is such a schmuck that Raz almost checks reuniting his brain off his to-do list by fostering Helmut Fullbear’s brain in his body, but this is a classic red herring tactic. Ironically, Nick is revealed to be a royal figure named Gristol Malik, the rightful heir to the Grulovian dynasty. Maligula was once an aid to Gristol’s fascist royal family, quelling protests with violent forces of water. Upon accidentally drowning her sister, Raz’s real grandmother, Maligula was repressed by the Psychonauts, ending the Malik’s regime. By using Zonotto’s body, Nick plans to summon Maligula once again to restore power to his throne. His mind is a garish, narcissistic monument to the potential glory he covets in the style of the “It’s a Small World” teacup ride. He awakens Maligula, but she does not aid him in his return to power. Maligula washes away Green Needle Gulch, and Raz faces her in a fight that should’ve been more difficult. Through understanding Lucretia’s past and present, Raz helps his surrogate grandmother defeat her Maligula side and make peace with herself, eliminating the threat for good. The resolution may be a bit contrived, but the events leading up to it are as brilliant as anything from the first game.


Psychonauts 2 was not a cash grab to bank on the nostalgia of the first game. When Tim tweeted at my neighbor hinting that his wish could potentially be fulfilled, my initial suspicions have been corrected, and now I have no doubt that his team at Double Fine were hard at work developing this sequel. A decade-spanning development period was enough time to oil the rusty creases in the first game’s foundation, fixing all of the awkward controls that made Psychonauts inferior to its contemporaries and refining the chapped visuals enough to make them gorgeous. Any fan of the first game would be delighted in theory, but most things that I admired about the first game aren’t present here. I had no idea that the first Psychonauts failed to capture a wider audience because its level design and humor fit a niche demographic that I clearly fall into. Psychonauts 2 surprisingly seems directed less at fans of the original, but a second chance to capture that wide demographic for a bigger profit, even if the more accessible design and narrative content alienates older fans. I first lamented that Psychonauts 2 was a shallow Psychonauts game with a glossier sheen, but unraveling the story made me think otherwise. An emotional, contemplative Psychonauts became just as substantive as the first game. Well, I hope Tim can finally afford to pay his mortgage bills at least.
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Erockthestrange 2022-08-06T20:23:04Z
2022-08-06T20:23:04Z
8.0
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Fun, imaginative levels with a bunch of cool powers that control way better than the first game - so there's no Meat Circus to ruin things. An easy sell that I'm happy to see has gotten the acclaim that it has - yet I admit parts of the game left me wanting. One underappreciated aspect of the first game was how subtly dark it could be; lots is (justifiably) given to the humour and creativity, but it's the darkest moments that have stuck with me: Clem and Crystal both hinting at suicidal thoughts that a real brush with death steered them away from, the game in Fred Bonaparte's mind looping endlessly into itself to a trap he could never bring himself out of, and of course the alarmingly uncomfortable Milkman level (which is praised). That darkness in itself is not a valuable attribute, but to me it provided depth to the game's world and to characters that might not have otherwise gotten that kind of attention.

This game, on the other hand, plays it a little safe on that front, understandably so - conversations around mental health have changed in the last 15 years, and incorporating some of the more extreme representations of mental illness runs a great risk of appearing insensitive. You're not going to wander into an insane asylum like you did in the first game, which means you're never going to get anything as outright disturbing as the Milkman level, instead opting for grounds that are unhealthy in much more normal ways. (Excepting the game's opening level, the leftover villain from the first game, which feels out of place from the rest of the game in its overly cartoony a depiction of 'insanity'.) Though I miss some of that boldness, I would much rather them play it safe than fuck it up. And there's benefits to that approach, anyway - the minds you explore in this game are centered around much more likeable characters than the first game (especially Cruller, Helmut, and Bob), which leads to much more empathetic narratives in each level. (It actually helps numb the bleakness of the alcoholism on display in Bob's level when you realize he's actually a complete sweetheart. Mister Donlon's video on that level is pretty good.) None of the levels, not even the short ones, feel incomplete. Still, there are parts of the game where playing it safe feels like it's sacrificing some depth, especially around Raz's fellow interns. I really wish there were more opportunities to learn more about the other people Raz's age, who seem interesting but rarely get a chance to be fleshed out. Sam is the only character I felt like I really got to know more about, but even then her, uh, complicated relationship with animals never really goes anywhere - it's just treated as an oddity you never really get to revisit. Everyone else just gets a basic personality trait that only shows up in very (very) small parts of the story.

Admittedly, part of that is also because the real focus of the story is on the founders of the Psychonauts and Raz's family (both of which are a delightful cast of characters), and those areas of the game are quite good. The safe way to portray a damaged mind is trauma, and so this becomes the umpteenth work of fiction to become about 'trauma'. (When we're saying Marvel Disney+ shows and Halloween revivals are about trauma, the word starts to lose a little meaning. Sorry.) But because Psychonauts already had a way into that, it doesn't feel so cheap and cynical, and also because the game is so focused on healing that trauma rather than lingering on it. It also works because that trauma comes from a central event that impacts most of the minds you visit (six out of eight), allowing you to see how different minds understand that trauma. All of them found themselves isolating in one way or another, but some drove themselves to other distractions while others tried to break their mind so that they couldn't remember even if they tried. But I do wish they had followed through on that a bit more. I don't think this game is about that trauma in any meaningful sense, because each character's personal trauma is neatly resolved by the end of their levels, and it's those levels that the trauma is meant to inform above all else.

Which is entirely fair, because these levels are a lot of fun! (Especially since they've ironed out a lot of the kinks in the controls and the game actually feels good to play, which was not something you could say about its predecessor.) You inadvertently turn one character's mind into a casino/hospital hybrid where you bet on card suits racing on a heartbeat monitor; another character takes part in a violent cooking game show that ends in sock puppets barfing out food that you recycle into dishes to kill them with; another puts you in a tour bus that travels across all five senses to form the perfect psychedelic rock band. The game often plays with genre, and though I would've liked for them to do so even more, it's always a treat when you're suddenly inside a pachinko machine or crawling on words inside a 2D platformer book. Even the combat is actually good this time. Not exceptional, but with enough to it that repeated enemy encounters remain fun. Basically every powerup you get in this game can be used in battle one way or another, and not in some niche "this power beats this enemy and no others" kind of way - Incinerate is good for crowd control, Levitate is good for keeping up movement, Time Bubble lets you momentarily ensure an enemy isn't a problem. My favourite is the Mental Connection power, which basically works like Nero's grapple in DMC5.

All told, not quite the profound game I'd been hoping for (and that some had insinuated it actually was), and I think I actually liked Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart a little more simply because that game was pushing boundaries. But this is still a worthy sequel (about on par with the original, all things considered) and a very good platformer in a year where the genre is thriving more than it has in years. (Coincidence? Probably, although more Ratchet and Psychonauts sequels seem like a safe bet at this point.) A good collect-a-thon game that I was eager to find all the collectibles for in the end, which I couldn't say for the first game. I just came out of it with far fewer thoughts than I expected to.
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Azdiff 2021-11-06T05:22:33Z
2021-11-06T05:22:33Z
4.0
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Before playing Psychonauts 2, I replayed the original and listened to 1UP.FM's podcast series on the game from 2008. They laugh about the idea of a sequel ever happening. It was a weird thing to listen to, remembering how impossible this project really was. And here we are.

This is a case where any sequel at all is welcome but what we got is an actually great and worth follow-up. It expands on the original in smart ways: I love how we are immediately progressing from the summer camp even though it's been years in our own lives between games. It's a bold choice to introduce a new cast, which isn't quite as good as the original's, but is still a lot of fun -- I especially love Sam.

The good and bad of this sequel is that it greatly improves the platforming/combat but in doing so makes it the game's entire focus. Part of the original's charm was the variety in level design and how Schafer's adventure game roots came through. This, on the other hand, is a fairly traditional platformer. I liked the levels thematically and they did find some variety in the platforming but I missed the departures that blew my mind like the Napoleon level, Milkman Conspiracy or even Lungfish (although I didn't find it fun to play it was an interesting concept). The psychedelic and visual flourishes in Psychonauts 2 makes up for some of this but not quite. I'm kind of sad to admit I was a bit bored by the end due to the lack of variety.

Although the first will remain number one in my heart, this is a sequel worth celebrating and it can't be understated how awesome it is to see this world come to life again with more visual fidelity. My mind was blown away by the colors and detail at times. The soundtrack is a joyous throwback to old cartoons. I can nitpick the ways it fails to hold up to the original but I'm thrilled we got this excellent follow-up at all. I hope Double Fine sticks to more ambitious games like this as they are so good at making elaborate worlds that small downloadable games can't contain.
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SUPER_Lonely_Panda 2022-01-30T15:14:10Z
2022-01-30T15:14:10Z
4.5
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One of the few modern follow-ups to an older classic that delivers
Worth the wait and then some.

Now up there with Rayman 2 and Banjo-Tooie (or Kazooie depending on my mood) as one of the greatesr 3D platformers of all time. It was surreal, as someone who pre-ordered the original waaay back (have the card deck to prove it!) to be back in this world but with it feeling like nothing changed (a GOOD thing btw). I may re-review it once I finished 100%ing it and better organize my thoughts (still some stray baggage in my head to tag) but as of now it’s not just the GOTY but for this curmudgeon who so missed the days when big companies took risks, a GOAT list inclusion for sure.

Play this game!
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ScrootyPollutey 2022-01-12T21:04:07Z
2022-01-12T21:04:07Z
5.0
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Canymany Psychonauts 2 2024-04-16T18:33:48Z
2024-04-16T18:33:48Z
4.5
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polland Psychonauts 2 2024-04-15T13:38:07Z
2024-04-15T13:38:07Z
4.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
thepardunk Psychonauts 2 2024-04-14T00:31:08Z
2024-04-14T00:31:08Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
anthinja Psychonauts 2 2024-04-11T16:00:21Z
2024-04-11T16:00:21Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
XterminatoR666 Psychonauts 2 2024-04-10T11:57:04Z
2024-04-10T11:57:04Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
SergLeDerg Psychonauts 2 2024-04-04T01:54:25Z
2024-04-04T01:54:25Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Fiddlesticks Psychonauts 2 2024-04-02T06:56:12Z
2024-04-02T06:56:12Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Dan_CiTi Psychonauts 2 2024-04-01T21:08:29Z
2024-04-01T21:08:29Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
MurvianMusicMondays Psychonauts 2 2024-04-01T17:04:43Z
2024-04-01T17:04:43Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
cellophanesound Psychonauts 2 2024-03-28T15:00:51Z
2024-03-28T15:00:51Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
OffModel Psychonauts 2 2024-03-26T16:32:57Z
2024-03-26T16:32:57Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Goodolmusic Psychonauts 2 2024-03-25T19:59:29Z
2024-03-25T19:59:29Z
7,0 /10,0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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  • Previous comments (47) Loading...
  • _sawdustanddiamonds_ 2023-03-13 18:19:59.440298+00
    couldn't figure out why exactly this got review bombed on metacritic, turns out its just cuz there's no russian localization lol
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    • to_noid_or_not_to_noid 2023-05-22 22:45:29.140448+00
      hide Removed by mod
      This post was removed by a site moderator for the following reasons:
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      Breaking community rules will result in site bans and eventual permanent account suspension.
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  • ratfecal 2023-05-11 22:43:10.58177+00
    Just wish their was a post-game
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    • _sawdustanddiamonds_ 2023-06-10 20:19:20.866245+00
      there is!
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  • to_noid_or_not_to_noid 2023-05-22 22:46:44.192812+00
    Can't wait to replay this on my Series S once there's a gap in my backlog.
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  • _sawdustanddiamonds_ 2023-05-30 18:27:26.214905+00
    lowkey peaks with forsythe's mind unfortunately but still good game
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  • Green_h 2023-06-17 13:45:09.62875+00
    whew being reminded of this game is so weird because while probably just as good as the og when I think about it I usually find myself forgetting about it and just remembering the og. kind of a "banjo in smash" situation where it felt like everybody was talking about it until it actually happened
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  • DizzyZebra 2023-08-16 06:05:30.217603+00
    Think you can compare 1 and 2 by comparing Dogen and Sam

    Dogen is a potato child who has to wear a tinfoil hat to stop him from blowing people up and is tormented by squirrels into considering killing everyone at his summer camp before blowing them up

    Sam is Dogen's sister who makes makeshift pancakes with animals
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  • Azel 2023-12-05 16:27:00.817228+00
    thats the thing, the first game had a more introspective take on digging into the psyche and letting that conceptually expand into a level. some really strange and evocative ideas. 2 has better play mechanics, but its integration isnt as clever and takes a more conservative approach.
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  • Drawdler 2024-02-06 09:43:07.586424+00
    See this is so fascinating to me because usually, between the rougher but more experimental game (1 in this case) and the more polished but safe game (2 in this case), I would easily prefer 1. But both games still have enough of the same qualities that I honestly don’t know which one I prefer; I guess I’d rather replay 2, but 1 still sticks with me more.
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