Psychonauts

Psychonauts
Psychonauts Cover
Platforms Windows, Xbox, PS2
Genre Hilarious Platformer
Score 10  Clock score of 10Gameplay: 10
Fun Factor: 9
Gfx/Sound: 9
Story: 9
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Well, it's been over a month since I beat a game, this is pretty typical the last couple of years but since I started this particular review site, it's only brought it to my attention more. I recently reviewed the first hour of Psychonauts (actually just on Monday, three days ago!) and I could not put the game down. It may have been a month since I finished a game but it's been seemingly years since I enjoyed a longer game this much. Psychonauts actually came out in 2005 and I've had it in the back of my mind ever since, and just now I realize how stupid I am for not playing it until now. The game is simply a very funny, highly original platformer. Everything comes together in a perfect storm of awesomeness for 20 hours, and at the end, you come away very satisfied.

That's enough introduction, I'll let the categories speak for themselves. All the scores are out of 10.

For my longer review on just the first hour, please see my Psychonauts review at The First Hour.

Scores

Gameplay: 10
The best part about Psychonauts is easily the gameplay. This game was made with the player in mind. Traveling around the overworld is easy and fun, using psychic powers is easy, and the platforming controls are simply top notch. Since Psychonauts is a platformer adventurer at heart, the game also features a range of enemies for you to tackle. This is probably the weakest part of the gameplay as fighting back can sometimes be difficult and tedious. You will get hit by random range attacks and later on you will mow down enemies very easily. The balance is there in the middle of the game though, but thankfully most levels feature very enemies and they are definitely not the focal point of the game. That's really my only complaint about the gameplay other than the item collecting, but I'll write more on that under Fun Factor.

I can't really reiterate enough how good this game handles. I played it through on the Xbox and played about an hour on the PC and it felt natural on both platforms. This is a rare feat these days, even considering first-person shooters. Psychonauts is a solid gameplay experience.

Fun Factor: 9
Psychonauts is extremely funny and the voice acting assists with that incredibly. I was busting a gut a few times not only from the great dialogue but also from the level design, which is superb. Each level is unique, because each level is inside someone's else's brain. You get to run around inside their inner psyche and explore and fix them up. I was cracking up whenever I entered someone's brain for the first time because I just never would have imagined it would be like this and that it could be this cool. I was constantly wowed and loved every moment of it.

There are a few not fun things though. I suppose the biggest is all the items to collect. There are a lot of them, and finding them is of course a joy, but knowing they are there can be bothersome because you really do want to find them all. Inside each brain there are a number of things to collect, and some of them can be very hard to spot and some downright tricky to obtain. I seemed to waste a lot of time getting that one out of the way object that really doesn't matter at all in the long run. But it's a testament to the game's design showing I kept coming back for more. Also not much fun is the last level, and I know at least two people who actually gave up at this difficult stage (relative to the rest of the game). This is disappointing to know because they came so close to finishing a truly wonderful game.

Graphics and Sound: 9
Psychonauts looks nearly breathtaking. I say nearly because there's a few nit-picky issues, but first the good. The art style is amazing and Raz's face is articulately designed allowing him a wide range of entertaining emotions. Check out the screenshots from my First Hour review for proof. Draw distance is long, absolutely no fog that I could see. Textures look great and every character has a ton of personality. Now for a few issues, the biggest one for me is that the pre-rendered videos look awful compared to the in-game engine. I understand why the developers chose to use them at times, but they really stand out. It's kind of disappointing because there are some pretty long videos near the end that just don't look that great, especially the final cutscene. One more minor issue I have is that the game does not support HD or widescreen (at least on the Xbox, the PC has a LARGE variety of resolutions available, the smallest being the hilariously tiny 320x200). This particular complaint did not affect the score.

Now for the sound, the largest audio standout in Psychonauts is the voice acting! This is absolutely superb, all the characters have a unique voice giving them a unique personality. This is really the best example I can give on why all modern adventure games should have voice acting. Far and away some of the best voices ever utilized in a game. There are a number of notable actors that I could pick out from past games such as The Curse of Monkey Island, Fallout, and Onimusha. The game's music is also excellent, and the sound effects are notable enough for me to mention them! Usually it's something I ignore because they're just mediocre, Psychonauts features great effects along with the actions.

Story: 9
Psychonauts is the story of a young boy named Razputin, Raz for short. Raz wants to become a Psychonaut, sort of a crime fighting, world saving, psychic super hero. The Psychonauts have created a summer camp to attract young psychic-able kids to train them in the ways of psychic abilities. Now Raz wants to be on the fast track to become a Psychonaut because he ran away from the circus where he and his psychic-hating father worked. Along with Raz we attend his first few lessons but then something very bad happens, all the other students' brains have been stolen! We are now on a mission to recover them. The only thing helping us is a crazy old man and our new psychic abilities.

I love the concept and it is executed really well, but I think there are a few lost opportunities. Raz's story more or less only bookmarks the game, we get information at the beginning and then we revisit his past again at the end. I really wished Raz would have been more fleshed out along the way, the only memorable thing is that he's afraid of water. Also all the secondary characters don't get the spotlight they deserve, unless they have a brain level. Then we get some memorable moments and deep insight into their inner thoughts and demons.

Overall: 10
Another 10! First Portal and now Psychonauts. Honestly I don't give these top scores out easily, and they definitely don't mean either game is perfect. They simply mean that this is truly a great gaming experience and absolutely should not be missed by any gamer. I also don't like to waste my time with crappy games so I play stuff I know will be good, you won't see a lot of bad scores on this particular site compared to the First Hour which I've given a few out. I really have to recommend Psychonauts. The game is available on so many platforms and can also be digitally downloaded through Steam, Gametap, and Xbox Live. There's really no excuse to not playing this game. Give it a try, I promise you will enjoy it.

Psychonauts Raz Moon Forest