Posted: December 25, 2013
My previous review of this game did not do it justice since I felt it deserved better than that - I'd like to elaborate a bit further on why I love this game ever so much as one of the best innovative games/platformers of all time. Growing up with 2D and 3D platformers like Mario, Crash & Spyro I could easily adapt to the platforming of the game. The platforming itself is solid enough but the actual combat in the game, during times like Boss Battles, can be dodgy as heck if you don't have a controller in handy -- Usually because of several different buttons needed to lock-on enemies and attack or alternatively dodge incoming attacks. You have the option of changing the keys to fit a play-style suitable for yourself, but I still find it frustrating at best namely due to the several important commands required. Here's my advice: Play the game with a controller as it'll make gameplay a bit smoother. So, what makes the game exceptional? Well, first of all it's the premise. The setting is a summer school camp for psychics. The game is brought to us by none other than the master of adventure games, Tim Schäfer (Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle), whose characteristic sense of humor certainly blooms in Psychonauts. One of the long running concepts of Schäfer's style usually juxtaposes a rather mundane situation in a fantastical setting; Such as what you'd expect if Tim Burton & David Lynch teamed up for an all-wacky-superstar tag team line up movie. Which is just as well because creator Tim Schäfer has now acquired his very own Johnny Depp, in form of Jack Black, although he's absent from this game. But I digress - We play as Raz, who's chosen to flee from the circus as opposed to joining it, because being a Psychonaut is a lot more fulfilling than the circus obviously. As he gets accepted into the fold of Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp he soon finds himself in the middle of a strange conspiracy, where the brains of the camp's inhabitants mysteriously vanish which leads to the game's funniest moments. The caricatures that show up in the game are so incredibly diverse and... weird? They are truly fascinating as you get to DIG your way inside their subconscious minds to discover their true hidden feelings. Essentially, Schäfer came up with the idea of Inception before... well Inception. This is the unique part of the game - The environments, atmosphere and overall feel of the inner & deepest thoughts of the camp and local areas inhabitants's minds.
Let me sum up some of the fascinating characters. We have a mad dentist who harvest brains, a talking fish whose thoughts involves a sequence where you become a giant Godzilla monster terrorizing a society of talking fish, a mentally ill security guard who's lost in the mindset of a crazy pyromaniac-milkman, Napoleon Bonaparte and his dimwit descendant, An aspiring musical starlet whose cruel mother's treatment of her and eventual suicide has caused her to develop a case of bipolar disorder, a government agent who disguises himself as a housewife by brandishing a rolling pin while talking disjointedly about pies etc. These are the kind of characters you can expect alongside the campers themselves and the local counselors, whom all are very well rounded and have their own personalities. Usually they are defined by interacting with them around the camp or examining the local signs and written letters, to provide character depth. Lastly, I found myself jamming to the game's cool blues-inspired guitar stringing soundtrack. All in all It's seemingly -- Well done. If you love a good platformer, with some dodgy gameplay at times, while every now and then laughing your ♥♥♥ off and maybe, just maybe, find yourself sympathizing with some of the loonies, as you uncover their hidden feelings. Then look no further than Psychonauts! :)