A Platformer that explores the Human Psyche

User Rating: 8 | Psychonauts PC

Psychonauts is an unique platformer that is sure to entertain and make you think about the human psyche.

We all have phobias, fears, insecurities that are in our mind. Tim Schafer, creator of such classics as Grim Fandango, Full Throttle and Day of the Tentacle, brilliantly created a game that explores this in an unique platformer called Psychonauts. Being a shooter and action gamer myself (and not really a platformer gamer), I was suggested to play this game by a friend and word of mouth about how good the game is. Having experienced Tim Schafer’s previous game Grim Fandango from a Demo CD which I found pretty cool, I thought I would give this game a shot not knowing what to expect.

Psychonauts explores the Human Psyche with child like curiosity and with a unique take from a human perspective. You play as Raz who enthusiastically goes to camp for gifted Psychics, un-invited to hone his Psychic powers and hopefully become a Psychonaut. While at camp he goes inside the minds of the drill sergeant at the camp as well as other characters that trains kids at the camp. Eventually, someone has been stealing the brains of these kids and other individuals at the camp so they literally become brain dead and it’s up to Raz to find who is this culprit by exploring the minds of different characters and restore the brains of all the people at the summer camp. Without going to much into the story line each “brain” you enter is a level that you play with unique settings and environments. What is good about this game is that each level is different and unique and has different goals and each character you go inside the mind of at the end you come out helping them get rid of their phobias, fears and get over the mental block that is holding these individuals back. It’s surprising that no one had the thought of creating a game where you go inside a characters mind to solve puzzles, platform, only in the mind of Tim Schafer one would think of such things. The game also throws in great humor that is sure to keep adults entertained so it’s not just a “kid” game.

The game has great voice acting that is phenomenally well done with great dialogue and quirky humor. The graphics is pretty good even after 15 years later largely due to the great art direction that the game presents itself. I played it at FULL HD 1080P with no issues with all settings set to max.

So, what is preventing me from giving it a 9 out of 10? First and foremost it’s the controls that needs to be refined. For example, towards the last level where the water is rising you are expected to jump to a higher platform before you drown in the water and you get to a point where you climb a net looking wall and jump from one net to another and towards the last jump or two Raz doesn’t quite attach itself to the net so you have to start from the bottom of the platform. This makes things frustrating and unnecessarily long to complete the level. It took me maybe a dozen tries to finally get onto the last net so I can get to the final two or three jumps that allow me to get past the last couple of nets and reach the higher platform.

Also, some of the puzzles or how to fight a boss can be confusing. You can ask for hints by summing another character but that always doesn’t provide enough information on what to do next. Once you know what to do next or how to defeat a boss it’s pretty easy from there. But you can spend hours trying to figure out what to do next, which can be a bit frustrating. The developers could have flushed this out better.

The game initially didn’t sell to well, reports of around 100,000 copies sold when it was initially released (according to Tim Schafer it was actually 400,000). It actually did better in it’s first 6 years of it’s release on Steam than it’s first 6 years of it’s initial release.

After completing the game I went to Double Fine’s YouTube page and went through a documentary which provides fascinating insight into how the game was almost cancelled due to Microsoft no longer funding the game and only when publisher Majesco stepped in at the last minute were they able to secure enough funding to complete the game. It’s a must watch if you are into knowing what goes behind game development and the struggles they went through to bring the game to market. Almost 4 years was spent to make this game which is quite a bit of time. It also has behind the scenes on the current production and updates on Psychonauts 2 which I am looking forward to.

So, if you must play one of Tim Schafer game or one platformer give Psychonauts a shot! You won’t regret it.