I played the original Psychonauts a few years after it came out, as part of the Vintage Game Club. I honestly didn’t remember much about it, other than a vague memory that I was happy enough to have played it but wasn’t as impressed by it as some people are; I wrote about it at the time, if you want to know more.

But I heard some people saying pretty strongly positive things about Psychonauts 2, enough to get me curious about the sequel. It took me a little while to get around to playing it, but when somebody suggested it for the February VGHVI discussion, I was happy to have an excuse to give it a try.

And it’s really good! My first reaction was just that it’s a very well done 3D platformer, in a way that felt refreshing. When I played the original Psychonauts, I was suffering from 3D platformer overload to some extent, but I’ve recovered since then. So I wasn’t bringing baggage to the genre; and I also suspect that Psychonauts 2 does a better job as a platformer than the original did?


So, at a basic level: I enjoyed wandering around the worlds, I enjoyed poking my nose in places, and I even enjoyed collecting stuff. It’s hard to strike the balance correctly in platformer collect-a-thons, but I think Psychonauts 2 did a good job: you don’t have to go out of your way much to get the majority of the collectibles, and the levels are interesting enough that I was happy to have an excuse to stick my nose in various places.

And the plot certainly helped keep me going as well. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other games out there whose plots pull me along more; but, as platformers go, this was a good one. And the plot also informed the level design, in ways that went in truly fabulous directions. Psychonauts 2 takes a much wider range of inspiration than the traditional platformer notion of fire level / ice level / desert level / etc.: instead, the concepts are things like 60s/70s psychedelic band, or an animatronic amusement park ride about the history of a central european country and the fall and eventual rise of its leader.


So: a game I’m glad to play, and actually even a game that I enjoyed enough to 100% all the collectibles and other achievements. (I looked up a couple of things in a guide, but not many; the game did a good job both of making it easy enough for you to find things just by poking around and of giving you tools to help you find the last missing bits.) I’m not sure it’s going to be a game that sticks with me in perpituity, but it’s doing a very solid job at being a 3D platformer, and the level theming really is unusually good for the genre.

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