Psychonauts 2 is a mind-bending trip through the strange worlds hiding inside our brains. Freshly-minted special agent and acrobat extraordinaire Razputin “Raz” Aquato returns to unpack emotional baggage and expand mental horizons. Along the way he’ll help new friends, like this magical mote of light voiced (and sung) by Jack Black. Raz must use his powers to unravel dark mysteries about the Psychonauts team and his own family origins.
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There are multiple big leaps being taken in this game, but largest and most obvious are the visuals. While the original got by on a unique visual style in the face of limited technology, this game operates on the same level of creativity, but with modern graphics. And my oh my, is it gorgeous. Easily one of the best looking games I've played, every stage, character and little gadget look perfect. The music continues in the same vein, expanding on the identity of the original themes with some solid new tracks.
Almost as important as the technical improvements, if slightly less clear at first sight, is the thematic depth this game offers. Whereas the first game was firmly rooted in a somewhat exaggerated view of mental illnesses and how they affect people, this game presents characters with much more nuanced conflicts and troubles, and the way they interact with each other is much more compelling, if not quite as funny and endearing. What sticks out in particular is how unflinchingly nice the game is. It is uncompromising in viewing each and every person, regardless of their actions, as a human being deserving of dignity and closure. Sure, the real world is a morally grey place, but the commitment to positivity and hope leaves an extremely strong impression.
Psychonauts 2 is a game that makes vast and impressive improvements upon the first game in a few key areas, but the impact this has is unfortunately diminished a little by quite a few small annoyances, plus a few larger ones. The throughline here is memorability, or the loss thereof. While many of the levels in P1 where erratic in progression and appearance, their quirks were what made the best of them shine so much. The new game cares not as much for gimmick stages, which, for once in gaming, ends up hurting it. The edges feel sanded off, and while there are fun stages here too, none reach the same height as the best in the first game. It also doesn't help that Raz feels momentumless at times, largely caused by the more reined in Bubble powerup, and the controls in general still lag behind better platformers of the modern area.
It is somewhat rergettable that P2 ends up being only a little better than the first, because in the areas it improves upon the first game, it REALLY improves. It has a compelling and touching story with great characters and solid pacing, and though its more streamlined design results in less interesting moment-to-moment gameplay, the experience is a smooth and pleasant one, and the game surfs along pretty well overall.
I have a soft spot for games like this; bright, colourful, whimsical, humorous. Even with dealing with somewhat sensitive topics it did so in a beautiful and respectful way, and I found myself comforted while playing.
the plot may seem kinda childish but it is actually quite interesting enough. and the psychological themes covered are not childish at all even if they showed not too seriously.
i really do like art design, it is so fascinating. the variety of locations and their design is so good, they are unique and highly memorable.
however, I have encountered a bug in the game that I am unable to solve. i have reached the last boss fight, but their health bar does not move and seems like certain scripts do not activate. this has been quite frustrating, i wish i could do something to fix it, but it seems that I am the only person who has encountered this bug.
overall the game is really worth it, i hope there is more this type of stuff.