Psychonauts 2 is a direct sequel to the first game in the series and marks the return of little Raz. The game has Portuguese subtitles and will arrive on August 25 on Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows, Xbox Cloud Gaming, PS4 and PS5 (with backwards compatibility). Mac and Linux will also get their versions in the future. O Techblog tested a preview of the game and you can see, below, our first impressions.
Psychonauts, a 16 year old cult
Just to remind you, the first Psychonauts (2005), released by the studio Double Fine, tells the story of little Razputin (Raz, to the intimate), a boy with psychic abilities. Raz escapes from life in the circus, where he was raised until then, and enters a very peculiar camp where he meets people with powers similar to his own. Your goal is clear: become a Psychonaut!
Psychonauts are a group of special agents endowed with psychic abilities and they aim to defeat evildoers around the world (who also have special abilities). The so-called “summer camp” from the first game is actually a training camp in disguise to help children with psychic powers to control their abilities and, who knows, to become Psychonauts in the future too.
the interesting of Psychonauts 2 is that, despite it being a direct sequel, you don’t necessarily have to have played the 2005 game. Right at the beginning, the player can watch a very explanatory summary of the main previous events, as well as the characters involved. This is also nice for those who played the first game a long time ago and don’t remember much anymore.
Adventure, humor and psychological approaches
Psychonauts 2 is an adventure and platform game, keeping the essence of the original title. You still control Raz in third person and now you need to help other secret agents find out who wants to bring a super villain back to life. The game is a brain creation of Tim Schafer, who was also the game designer for Grim Fandango, Brutal Legend and broken age.
During the preview, it was possible to notice that the game is either about to be finished or is ready. The visuals are very polished and colorful, within the aesthetics of the title itself, and even though it’s a build I didn’t notice any kind of bug that prevented me from proceeding and the gameplay flowed without crashes (my test was done on PC). This could be a sign that the game is well optimized. Let’s wait for the release to prove it.
About the gameplay, Psychonauts 2 it gives its own face to a widely known sandbox style of exploration, with items to collect, skill upgrades to make and some side quests. It’s the same basic formula as any other adventure game with platform elements like: Ratchet & Clank or Banjo-Kazooie, for example.
Where Psychonauts 2 shows its own identity, in terms of gameplay, is the subtlety in which Double Fine deals with psychological disorders – throughout the campaign – allowing the player to interact with these problems, even using humor, but without being offensive or making the game a monotonous experience.
At times, Raz can use some of the psychic powers he’s learned to help other people deal with trauma or even make it clear to them (and to himself) that you can’t always get it right, or that sometimes feeling sad is normal and not a sign of weakness.
What would have great potential to become a very long experience (even to deal with these delicate issues), in fact, it is something very dynamic and fun. Raz manages to teleport into the minds of some characters and many of the fears and anxieties are portrayed in a cartoonish way, with NPCs and funny looking enemies (not least because you’re playing inside someone’s imagination).
The psychic part of the gameplay of Psychonauts 2 it’s like Alice in Wonderland and Bobby’s Fantastic World they went together at a rave party, but instead of just enjoying the music, they also needed to solve a lot of problems along the way. Add to this peculiar atmosphere moments of action, puzzles and platforms.
Psychic Skills and Exploration
As Raz progresses in his adventure after the Psychonauts’ enemies, and even inside people’s minds, he will learn some new skills that will be very important for solving puzzles or overcoming obstacles. The interesting thing here is that you will have to choose, according to the need, which powers to activate. Only four skills can be used at a time.
Since powers that will allow Raz to burn objects and enemies to float and cling to memory connections, with a kind of “psychic hook”, creating combos with different abilities is something really cool to do and can give you a precious advantage in some combats or even in puzzles.
Of course, for the player to become familiar with these skills, they are presented gradually, allowing you to use them until you learn their functionality well, and then yes, a new one is introduced. Also, it is worth noting that the learning curve may seem a bit slow for veterans of this style of gameplay, but it does not affect (at least in principle) the unfolding of the narrative.
despite Psychonauts 2 not being an open world title, it’s possible to explore the scenarios a little (and I recommend it too). You can find money to buy customizable items, upgrades, find secret rooms (you can even “abduct” innocent mice to enter places Raz can’t) and so on. Before leaving for the next mission, it’s nice to take a walk around.
give Raz a chance
Tested Psychonauts 2 for a little over six hours and my initial experience was very positive. The game doesn’t invent a new wheel in terms of gameplay; many might consider it generic, but it’s fun. The title also brings a light and comical (without being offensive) approach to some psychological disorders and still offers some comfort to deal with them.
The level of difficulty, for both combats and puzzles, is low to medium (which can be great to attract more casual players) and the strategy to combine the best skills, for each stage of the stages, will be something interesting to see evolving throughout the full campaign.
At the end of this preview was the curiosity to know what will happen next, how the story will unfold. Mostly, it was a pleasure to find out what other craziness Double Fine has planned to guide players through this psychedelic experience. The fact that Psychonauts 2 will be part of the Game Pass is an added incentive to accompany the little Raz’s psychic (and psychotic) journey. It’s worth giving it a try.