Studio: Double Fine
Released: August 25, 2021
In this game by Double Fine, 10-year-old Razputin Aquato works to achieve his dream of joining the Psychonauts, a secret agent taskforce of psychics who use their abilities to jump into minds and accomplish various missions. I got my introduction to this series a little bit earlier this year by playing the first game in the series, where Raz sneaks away from his circus family to participate in a summer camp organized by the Psychonauts to nurture the talents of children with psychic abilities–and who winds up enveloped in a special mission to restore the brains of his fellow campers.
Psychonauts 2 follows Raz’s gradual integration into the Psychonauts, based around finding a mole who has infiltrated their headquarters, or “The Motherlobe.” And one of the first things that stands out about the game right away is its expansive, slightly cartoony, and detailed environments. There is something to see everywhere you look, from the office space where the game begins to the vast landscape that surrounds the Psychonauts’ headquarters. Then there are the wild worlds featured in each of the minds explored by Raz, which reflect the personalities and experiences of the individuals being helped or investigated.
Speaking of helping, one of my favorite parts about this game is that even though the Psychonauts series features a lot of fast-paced action and agents fighting against crime, there is a strong emphasis on assisting those in need, usually with mental struggles or similar difficulties, to overcome (or at least begin to heal from) those issues. And it tackles all of these problems with a great deal of sensitivity and care, thanks in part to the compassionate nature of its main protagonist Raz, who–although he has his own troubles to face–is a genuinely sweet and patient character. His enthusiasm is endearing, expressed skillfully by his voice actor is Richard Horvitz, known for his talents in voicing such characters as Zim from Invader Zim and Daggett from The Angry Beavers.
The storyline progresses at the perfect pace to keep players invested for hours on end, with optional side-quests thrown in for good measure. But it is often tempting to just run around the explore the environment, navigated by jumping, climbing, swinging, or any number of psychic-related abilities that Raz picks up along his journey (such as the ability to shoot things with his mind or slow them down.) Additionally, the soundtrack is breathtaking and appropriate for each of the settings, which only adds an extra layer to what is already a brilliantly constructed game.
All the above make Psychonauts 2 an extraordinary masterpiece.