Video Game Review: Psychonauts

Details: Originally released in 2005. Got the game for free through http://www.humblebundle.com. Beat the game in about twelve hours. Played on PC through Steam.

Score: 7/10

Despite the passage of time, Psychonauts holds up surprisingly well. The game is reminiscent of the old 3D platformers that used to rule the consoles two system generations ago. Psychonauts is a dated, but fun game that I enjoyed very much. There were moments that were confusing or frustrating, but that did not take away from the overall experience for me.

Psychonauts takes place at a summer camp that trains young psychics. You play Rasputin, a young boy with powerful psychic abilities who seeks to join the Psychonauts, a secret organization of psychics who fight the forces of evil. Rasputin quickly discovers that not everything is as it seems at the camp and that some dastardly foe is stealing the brains of his fellow campers. Now Rasputin must uncover this mystery and defeat whoever is behind this scheme.

Most noticeable in this game is the visuals. Though this game came out long ago for the PS2 and Xbox, it still looked fine when I played it on the PC. It still looks like a game for the PS2, except that anti-aliasing and increased frame rates help modernize the game and make it presentable. Also helpful is the art style of the game, which is cartoony, but very stylish. As often is the case with Nintendo games, making artistically stylistic games often helps preserve games in a way so as to make them timeless classics. This is arguably the case for Psychonauts and it holds up well despite it’s age.

More needs to be said about the artistic style in that it is very unique. Character design is odd and somewhat reminiscent of something I’d expect from Tim Burton. Much of the game involves exploring people’s minds and each mind has its own aesthetic and motifs going on.

The story is strong in this game and does a great job of motivating and entertaining. It’s definitely a game that can be played by children, though some parts of the game are annoyingly difficult.

Gameplay is what you’d expect from a standard 3D platformer. There’s a lot of jumping around and bopping enemies. In addition to the standard controls, you also get psychic powers which are necessary to progress through the game. Most puzzles and boss fights require you to figure out which combinations of powers to use in order to progress. I’m not entirely sure, but I think many situations allow for multiple solutions that way.

The worst parts of the game involve problems that still haven’t been solved by modern 3D platformers like the camera and situations that require precision even though the controls are simply not that precise. I can’t fault a game this old however, because I still see these problems in modern games like Super Mario Odyssey.

The music was fine. What was more than fine was that the game is fully voiced. An impressive feat for a game so old.

Overall, I really enjoyed this game despite its age. I also got it for free, so I can’t complain too much about it. If you can get the game for cheap (like two dollars or less) and you like 3D platformers, you should get this game.

Score: 7/10

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