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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Psychonauts 2 Review:
This game really lived up to my expectations and it's a fantastic sequel to the original Psychonauts. It expands and improves almost everything about the first game, making it feel like a very natural progression of the series. Which is honestly a miracle considering that it took around 16 years for it to happen. They really tightened up the gameplay this time, everything feels a lot nice to use cause they removed a lot of the lag from actions that probably didn't need it, making things feel a lot snappier. Thankfully along with the gameplay they also cleaned up the visuals to an overwhelming amount. The game can still be a bit gross, but the new character designs are all pleasant to look at, something I couldn't really say about the first game. It isn't just the characters though, the game looks really nice and helps really flesh out all these cool and interesting new worlds. The color palate got a massive improvement, making sure not to repeat the mistakes of Psychonauts 1. Speaking of the new worlds they are overall way better than Psychonauts 1, which only had a few standouts. In this game each and every single level has not only an interesting idea that it plays with but are fun to platform in. Something that they really messed up in the original game. The story is also everything I had been hoping for and more. In the first game they make it very clear that the world is much larger then the scope of the game. This time it's fully realized, and you get to take on an operation of a much larger scale, with a better plot to match. Can't say much but I actually got some Oldboy vibes from the story, which I was really impressed by. Did not expect them to go for the twist they did, that's for sure. While the overall story is a lot better than the original game I think they messed up one of the things that made the first game so good, which is the characters. Due to the much larger story there are a lot more characters, though they weren't able to give them all the screentime they deserve. Psychonauts 1 had a much smaller cast in comparison, and even if they weren't really important to the overall plot they all got a ton of dialogue after every level. Psychonauts 2 has just as much dialogue if not more, but it's way more spread out across side characters and different levels then before. This isn't objectively worse or anything, but the main issue is that characters who are integral to the plot now don't get as much dialogue as they probably deserve. Hell the people who save the whole world with you are relevant an entire one time throughout the game. Don't get me wrong though the game is just as funny, with some great voice acting throughout, just think there were some missed opportunities with the characters in this game. I think a very interesting difference between the two games is that this one is no doubt in my mind a linear 3d platformer, while Psychonauts 1 blended the line between adventure game and platformer. I think this shift in focus definitely helps the game feel more concentrated, another issue that was present in the first game. I don't really have much else to say, the side quests and pins are nice additions, and the new and old powers all feel great. Only things I can say is that the movement is a little less interesting due to the removal of the physics engine from the first game, and the combat is pretty mediocre, and they force you to do it a lot. Especially as a follow up to the first game Psychonauts 2 is super fun and no doubt one of the most creative platformers out there.
Although I never wanted anything from it besides more of the original, Psychonauts 2 very much succeeds even where it diverges from its predecessor (and there's still plenty of the original here, don't worry). It does some things better, and some things worse, averaging out to about the same quality. I gave this one a lower rating, but my reasons are so subjective I completely understand if you go the other way here.
The level design is, as always, inspired, and even exceeds Psychonauts 1 in places. It's impossible to describe in detail without giving away the twists, but even basic intro levels in 2 are as surreal and visually interesting as the later levels of 1. The overworld is a strict improvement in size and variety, populated with an ensemble cast of charming weirdos, but it never felt as warm or homey as Whispering Rock. It has a more elaborate plot and darker, more emotional tone than the first, which was engaging and intriguing throughout, but I still found myself missing the kid's show vibes at points. Cutscenes and character interactions are uniformly well-written but the rendering and animations are extremely uneven, and certain shots and conversational beats linger uncomfortably long.
The collectathon is largely unchanged, even with the addition of some new items to hunt down. Combat has been generally retooled and seperated from normal gameplay. There are more enemy types with specific gimmicks you have to keep track of, but fights almost always happen in big circular arenas where you space out waves of enemies and juggle abilities. It works fine, but it always feels like an interruption from the actual game. The platforming actually feels noticeably worse; Your main movement options have been nerfed heavily, and Raz has much less freedom of movement. In a way, this is understandable, since you could skip half the original by abusing Levitate, but being forced to reckon with the levels on their own terms means you have to confront the pervasive geometry issues. All of that is minor; Nothing came close to sinking the experience for me.
Probably the biggest departure is that Double Fine clearly had some actual psychologists on call for this one, and the whole idea of exploring mental issues is handled more tactfully and 'appropriately'--but then again, that's not really what I want from a series whose central gimmick is a circus runaway raising hell in people's brains. I get why they made these changes, but the writing starts to feel like a Very Special Episode about Real Mental Health Issues at times, and I miss the more cartoony vibes.
Despite a few misgivings, Psychonauts 2 still captures almost all of the original's charm, and brings a lot to the table on its own terms. Highly recommended.