By Double Fine Productions
Genre: Third-person adventure/platformer
Rating: Teen for Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor, Language
Although the game Psychonauts hit way after my youth, the impressionable period in which I loved anything and everything, I still feel very emotional in regards to it. Merely recalling it brings a tear to my eye, and perhaps it’s the beauty of the whole package that does this.
Perhaps it’s because the extremely talented Tim Schafer, designer of many wonderful graphic adventures for LucasArts, had a heavy hand in designing this title. Perhaps it’s because every aspect of the production value, from voice-acting (including by Richard Steven Horvitz, of Invader Zim fame!) to graphics (SO 2005, but possessing polish that has never gone away) to music (by prolific game music composer Peter McConnell), but whatever the reason, I absolutely love this game, and it will never get old in my mind.
The basic story is, you play as Razputin, a ten-year-old psychic boy who has run AWAY from the circus for once, and away from his domineering father who supposedly hates psychics. He arrives at Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp, where prospective Psychonauts are trained. What he finds, though, is a bunch of other ragtag kids with mental problems all their own. However, they are ready to be well-trained and prepared for the coming Psychic Age by former military man Coach Oleander, and full Psychonauts Sasha Nein and Milla Vodello.
The main mystery of the camp revolves around that huge rock deep underground, a giant shard of Psitanium which fell in an asteroid five hundred years ago. Over time, it mutated flora and fauna alike; bears grab at you with telekinetic hands, cougars prowl the night and light up their victims with Pyrokinesis, and the inhabitants of both camp and asylum found their psychic powers emerging in strange and powerful ways.
Your ‘magical guide’ throughout this journey is Ford Cruller; an old man and former powerful Psychonaut whose mind was unfortunately shattered in a psychic duel; while away from his secret lair and the Psitanium shard, he manifests different personalities with whom you deal; whether selling things (using Psitanium arrowheads) from the Camp Store, or keeping track of his Scavenger Hunt or simply serving as color in the other areas, Cruller is a jack-of-all-trades – he just doesn’t know it.
Raz finds himself bouncing between minds, but not those of his campmates; there are at least half a dozen adults around camp and beyond with full-blown neuroses that define their mental worlds. He can enter their minds at any time after the first, jumping around and collecting ephemeral Figments; tagging Emotional Baggage; vaccuming Mental Cobwebs, releasing secrets found within Memory Vaults, and more.
But aside from the surreal environs of the minds you encounter lies the no-less-mundane real world; from the idyllic environs of camp to the depths of man-made Lake Oblongata, to Thorny Towers Asylum, you’ll guide Raz to discover the truth behind a sinister plot to make use of that most powerful of resources; young human minds, as well as learn fascinating and disturbing facts about Raz himself…
Twist your mind around the epic and quirky story of Psychonauts, and you’re sure to have a great time! The game’s recently received a Mac release after six years, and gained Steam Cloud saved game backup and Steam Achievements as well – for your $10, can you go wrong? Five out of five, easily!