by Matthew Ingram
Platformers are a genre that has been around since the dawn of time. Jumping on things is probably one of the most intuitive gameplay formulas out there. Other than, of course, shooting asteroids.
The original Psychonauts is one of those hidden gems of gaming that not nearly enough people have played. It perfectly melded story and gameplay, and while it wasn’t a perfect game, it certainly was one of the most creative out there.
And now the year is 2021, and all eyes are on Psychonauts 2 as Microsoft struggles to escape a failed console and gamers struggle to escape a deluge of mediocre games. If you’re not caught up, Psychonauts is basically like Persona, meets Inception, meets Jimmy Neutron.
You play as Raz, a young Psychic trying to train his powers as he enters the minds of various unique and interesting individuals. These games often touch on dark themes like mental illness, war, but it always does so with both levity and respect.
The stars of the show in Psychonauts 2 are undoubtedly the levels. Like the first game, Psychonauts 2 delivers a crash course on how to do level design right, but the developers have really upped the ante here.
Not only is the macro-level design fantastic with brilliant levels that perfectly display their subject’s personality and challenges, but also on a micro level as every platform feels purposefully placed and like it actually belongs in the world and isn’t just there because it’s a video game level.
It reminds me of Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, one of the highest praises you can give a platformer. Every level is incredibly memorable and filled with unique and impressively detailed areas to explore and set pieces to experience.
In this game, you will go to a big casino that is also a hospital, you will explore a drab office that is actually inside someone’s mouth, you will experience Jack Black’s psychedelic nightmares, and you even get to go to the library. Which is one of the best parts, trust me. However, there is no train level in this game which is going to have to take it down about 50 points.
Pyschonauts 2 is one of those rare games that is practically flawless. Every single second of this game has more fun and creativity squeezed into it than most games do in their entire runtime. It manages to say so much without talking down to its audience or sacrificing gameplay.
Pyschonauts 2 is a game that is truly for all ages. If you haven’t played this game yet, you’ve got no excuse. It’s on game pass on PC and Xbox, and it’s also on PS4. I guess if you’ve only got a Switch, then you do have an excuse, but you know.