This is a charming and creative game, where the overarching narrative and characters standout above all else. Compared to the first game, the moment-to-moment dialogue wasn't as humorous in my opinion, but the representation of each of the characters and their backgrounds were more fleshed out. The story comes together mostly near the end with a lot of exposition, but still managed to leave me with a small desire to replay the game and see how many early hints there are for the game's ultimate conclusion. Much like its predecessor, a good part of the story is revealed through optional vault collectibles, which is rewarding while not being too punishing if you miss them. There is also a ton of extra dialogue you can discover both throughout the main story and after its completion; the latter serves as a nice epilogue for everything that I wish more games had.

The platforming is also vastly improved, both in terms of controls and movement options, but the rough edges of the first game may have been rounded off too much which makes this one easy by comparison. Despite an uncrowded playing field of 3D platformers, it's still not up there with games like Mario or A Hat in Time gameplay-wise. But it does excel at having plenty of collectibles that are both useful and fun to collect, with the hundreds of unique figment designs that are surprisingly satisfying to scoop up.

The best parts of Psychonauts have always been the level design, graphical and artistic variety, and how the narrative intertwines with gameplay. None of this core is missing here. The boosted fidelity of modern platforms allows the levels to really pop, with my favorites being the Psi King and Cassie's Collection. There are many noticeable visual glitches when transitioning to and from cutscenes, but it doesn't detract from the experience that much. What's worse for my tastes is the audio design: it feels a little underbaked. Sometimes the sound effects are not mixed properly, or are completely lacking for some animations or events. Characters often repeat one-liners dozens of times when performing certain activities, with bosses and Raz being the worst offenders of this. Often, there are characters talking over each other when multiple triggers happen at once, and only one set of lines is ever subbed at a time. This level of unpolished audio existed in the first game too, and I'm surprised it still stands out to me as much as it does. That said, I do love the music in this game and it's a vast improvement from the often repetitive and static tracks in the original.

This is a game I may actually want to replay in the future, or at least watch someone replay it to experience the story again. I had a great time throughout. It's lacking a little bit of polish in places that is noticeable to me but may not be an issue for others, and the gameplay/difficulty wasn't engaging enough to put it in the top-tier of platformers. But I still loved it for what it is, and can tell a ton of heart and care went into this title.

Reviewed on Aug 14, 2023