Rocky Mountain Gamer: ‘Psychonauts 2’ a dream of a long-awaited sequel

Game explores themes of family and mental health in an irreverent, hilarious way

“Psychonauts 2” explores themes of mental health in an irreverent, oftentimes hilarious way.
“Psychonauts 2” explores themes of mental health in an irreverent, oftentimes hilarious way.
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I’ve never felt the need to start a review with a warning before, but if you suffer from odontophobia — that is fear of dental procedures, dentists and the like — then “Psychonauts 2” might not be for you.

To everyone else, you really should to play this superb platform game from developer Double Fine and Microsoft Game Studios.

“Psychonauts 2” digs deeper into main character Raz’s past.

A sequel 16 years in the making, “Psychonauts 2” picks up shortly after the first game. Our plucky hero, Raz, returns to Psychonauts headquarters and is made an official intern after his great performance at Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp.

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the original “Psychonauts” (after all, it may have come out when some of you were small children), it’s an independent platform game that explores themes of family and mental health in an irreverent, oftentimes hilarious way.

It’s also worth adding that the original can be played on PS4/5 and Xbox One S/X thanks to a brilliant remaster that released a couple of years back.

I don’t really want to say more about the story or characters because to do so would be to spoil the better part of what makes “Psychonauts 2” so special.

I will say it’s disappointing that the bridge game released between parts one and two was a mediocre VR puzzle game that did no justice to the series, but whose story still connects, so feel free to dig up a YouTube video to learn what happened there.

Psychedelic colors and patterns abound in “Psychonauts 2” as Raz navigates through dreamscapes and nightmares.

Delving into the minds of others — particularly when some of those in question are insane — makes a wonderfully creative gamescape for designers, some of whom are likewise a little off their rockers.

Psychedelic colors and patterns abound as Raz navigates through dreamscapes and nightmares, discovering what makes his subjects tick.

Our hero sports plenty of special powers to fight these other people’s inner demons. Telekinesis, pyrokinesis, psi-blasts, and even the nifty ability to create a copy of himself, help Raz navigate every situation — even though you’ll have to figure out which powers to take into each situation since you can only map four of them at a time to the triggers and shoulder buttons.

Combat moves quickly and can pose a solid challenge, though the game does feature a variety of difficulty levels for all skill levels.

Players will quickly learn to identify the most dangerous foes, like the Panic Attacks which run frantically about, and the Bad Ideas which can blow up any seemingly calm situation … literally.

At its core, “Psychonauts 2” takes all of these wonderful gameplay elements and uses them to weave an exploration into humanity.

“Psychonauts 2” delves into the minds of others.

While it may look colorful and feature plenty of humor, this game gets dark. Sometimes it gets really dark.

When you dig deeply into someone’s mind, you may find more than wanted to know. You may have to confront their pain and sorrow, or rather help them confront it. While you may have to fight through the mindscapes, you cannot change these characters. What you can do is help them want to change, and maybe even show them a way to do so themselves.

What makes both main games in “Psychonauts” series the best platform games without “Mario” in the title, isn’t the fast-paced action, creative powers and stunning level design, it’s the deep story and rich characters.

In the first game we find out that Raz ran away from the circus, where his family members were legendary performers, in order to join the Psychonauts. This sequel digs deeper into his own past as well, and what the decisions he made have done to his own psyche.

Oh, and that pesky family curse that follows him is still around. It would be best to avoid the water while you’re still figuring that out.

“Psychonauts 2” is a dream of a sequel. Not only does it look better, play better and have a richer story than the already superlative original, it can be appreciated on so many different levels.

Play this one with your family and be ready to discuss some heavy subject matter. It will be some of the best time you spend with a controller all year.


“Psychonauts 2.”

Psychonauts 2

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

Rated: T

Who it’s for: Anyone looking for a strange and wonderful platform game

Console: Xbox S/X, XBO, PS4, PC

Grade: A-