I remember picking up Psychonauts on a whim. It had this cool cover, and I’d previously enjoyed what Double Fine had done. The concept seemed almost Tim Burton-esque to me, and it wasn’t long before I fell in love with these characters and that world. Raz sneaking into a psychic summer camp, only to find himself saving his new friends and discovering a lot about his own past was the kind of story that I needed at that age. Now, so many years later, it feels like Raz has grown with me.
Finally getting an extended look at the gameplay for Psychonauts 2 reveals a game that is very much a follow up to the first. I understand that it might not live up to some people’s standards of what a late-gen PS4 game ought to look and play like, but for me, it was simply perfect. Everything I remembered and loved about the original was right there. Double Fine retained the visual style while cranking up the fidelity. They kept that fun action platformer gameplay while refining combat and increasing Raz’s abilities even further.
One of the best parts about Psychonauts is the brilliantly mad worlds that exist within each character’s mind. Even back on the PS2, Double Fine made these environments stand out with unique visuals and gameplay elements that specifically called to that character’s psyche. It was a little bit like extreme therapy, jumping into their heads and dealing with their problems while also handling your own. And of course saving the world from an evil dentist. Double Fine knows this is a big part of what made Psychonauts what it is, so they’re really doubling down on that style once again.
Psychonauts 2 E3 2019 Preview – Office Chairs and Teeth
The world we got to see was an insane blend of an office and teeth. So many teeth everywhere. The Psychonauts team had been trying to use some Inception-like tactics on that evil dentist, Dr. Loboto, but his mind began to break free, combining the office environment they had created with Loboto’s toothy reality. If this is what they’ve got in store for the opening level of the game, I can’t wait to see what else they have cooking.
The first game’s Censor enemies are joined by Doubts and Regrets, and the combat is much more fluid this time around to deal with all of these threats. It looks like Raz will start off with everything he learned at summer camp and gain new abilities over time, as opposed to having to lose and relearn the basics. It doesn’t really change things up from the first game so much as it expands on what you know. To that end, Psychonauts 2 does kind of seem like the PS4 version of a PS2 game, but for its intended purpose, I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all here.
Instead of camp, this time around will feature the open-world environment of the Psychonauts headquarters to explore. Here we’ll learn even more about Raz’s family history, the founding of the Psychonauts, and it was even hinted that we’ll see just how those two things meet up.
I didn’t leave my Psychonauts 2 gameplay demo with a feeling that this will push gaming forward, but it simply doesn’t need to. Psychonauts 2 is a love letter to the fans who love the original and want the next chapter of Raz’s story. It’s for the people who love the psychic gameplay of the first and just want more of that. It’s for the people who loved that visual style, these characters, and those worlds, and it gives them an opportunity to go back. It’s got all the same charm, heart, and humor, and anyone who loved the first would be out of their mind not to keep paying attention to Psychonauts 2. For a game that could quite possibly be Double Fine’s last on the PS4, it’s setting itself up to be an excellent send off.