Psyconauts – Double Fine Productions
NICKNAME: “Crazy…. real crazy”
Psychonauts is crazy from start to finish. It’s characters are crazy, it’s plot is crazy, everything is crazy fun!
I’ve been a fan of 3D platformers for as far back as I can remember. Playing so many growing up, from ones that are very well known like Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter, to obscure ones like Vex and Voodoo Vince. Still, the one that I heard so many good things about and one that somehow managed to slip through the cracks while growing up was Psychonauts! With the sequel having been crowd funded and the first playable test being uploaded to their Youtube channel, I thought it was about time I finally got around to playing this game.
Psychonauts at first seems like a typical 3D platformer, but when you look closer, it’s actually so much more. It’s got an art and writing style very similar to classic 90’s cartoons, such as Invader Zim (who also shares the same voice actor as Raz). Psychonauts is so full of insanity and is just an overall good time!
In Psychonauts there is a summer camp that trains children with psychic abilities to fight crime. As the children earn merit badges they get closer and closer to becoming part of a group of heroes called Psychonauts!
One night during a camp meeting, a young boy named Rasputin (Raz for short) sneaks into the camp after running away from home, hoping to join the children and become a Psychonaut. Unfortunately, without his parents permission he only has a couple days to finish his training before his dad comes to pick him up. Along the way Raz discovers that some of the children’s brains have gone missing and it’s up to him to find out whats going on and save the camp!
The writing manages to be incredibly silly and very comedic while also throwing in a ton of very dark moments and heavy backstories. A guy gets fired and goes crazy, which is then followed by him burning his old office down! It’s also presented in a way that you hardly notice how dark it is until you really stop to think about it.
For the most part it’s a typical 3D platformer with its jumps, double jumps, simple combat, and even the bad camera. What sets it apart is that as you go through the levels there are collectibles called Figments. Collect enough of these and you can gain psychic power and rank up over time. The higher your rank is the more abilities you learn and the stronger they become.
The controls don’t hold up that well these days as they can be clunky at times and you will find yourself wrestling with the camera a little bit, but overall it’s not too bad and I still enjoyed playing the game despite these small problems with the controls.
The game starts in a hubworld that is the summer camp, but from there you enter various levels. Each level exists inside the mind of various characters like the teachers or people at an insane asylum. These worlds mirror each character’s personality and you can learn a lot about the characters just from moving around the level. The levels are linear, however there are still many hidden secrets for you to find. Some of these secrets are hidden surprisingly well.
Eventually you’ll reach a point where you need a super expensive item from the shop in order to proceed through the game. The problem is that you almost certainly will not have the item yet because of how much it costs. So when you reach this point you are forced to farm for the currency (called arrowheads) until you can afford it. This puts the game to a complete halt until you spend enough time doing the same thing to get money (I’d recommend using another item called the Dowsing Rod to farm arrowheads until you have enough).
Raz is a kid who ran away from home to become a Psychonaut! He is extremely determined to succeed and luckily for him, he has the talent needed to do so.
Lili is a young girl who is a talented psychic. Every year she finds the camp boring and is hoping for some real excitement. When a cute boy shows up named Raz, the excitement she was looking for might become a reality.
As one of the teachers at Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp, he is a talented agent of the Psychonauts, who is a proud scientist. Sasha is serious, stern, and organized. Sasha is not the kind of guy you’ll see making a lot of jokes and he takes his job very seriously.
Milla is one of the teachers at the camp and is also one of the worlds foremost experts on levitation. She’s always upbeat and loves to party, but her past is not as happy as it may seem.
Oleander is another teacher at the camp, he has a drill sergeant type of personality who takes hard work, pride, and passion very seriously. Though it seems he has some mysterious plans for our hero Raz.
If you’re a fan of 3D platformers, then Psyconauts is a very familiar kind of game, with quirky, fun writing and a lot of heart. This game has a lot to offer and it’s no wonder how it grew a fanbase after all these years. For fans of the genre I’d absolutely recommend it and with the sequel having been crowd funded and getting closer and closer to completion (slowly but steadily), now is the perfect time to see what all the hype is about!