I had the pleasure of playing one of the best games from 2021 for a preview. Psychonauts 2 is something incredibly different in the Xbox Game Studios catalog. Double Fine rarely releases a high-budget title, I think Brütal Legend was the last, but this platformer is pure gold. I can’t wait to finish the full version when it launches on August 25.
Each level is actually in someone’s head, they call it a brain level. Psychonauts HQ is your main base of the organization and you invade someone’s mind. That’s why the game is a bit wacky and so creative. Creative in a sense that a master artist seems to have made the world designs; think about Picasso or Chagall. This isn’t your traditional happy platformer, as some very serious topics are used for inspiration in the level design, story and characters. For me that’s the biggest strength of Psychonauts 2, they have a perfectly mixed style between serious and laughing out loud. Balancing between animation series Rick & Morty and some Prime’s Undone.
You aren’t forced to replay the first one from 2005, as the game recaps the story in an excellent way. The first one is understandably aged with some ancient technical decisions and some weird controls. This is all different with Psychonauts 2! Modern precise movement completely trashed mechanics from the first one that didn’t work, some really fun combat, and honestly some of the best creative level design in the history of videogames. Combined with some colorful and impressive visuals…
You can compare the gameplay with Spyro, or a more recent example Pumpkin Jack (our review) Traditional in the sense that you’ll be looking for collectibles, fighting hordes of enemies and doing general platforming jumps. But all of that in a special Double Fine sauce. I could only play a few brain levels but from what I played the most surprising thing I found great was the story and dialogue, there’s some really deep and emotional stuff. Each NPC has something to say, unlike so many other games everything they say is meaningful and adds something to the overall story. Really looking forward to experiencing more of this great storytelling!
Not so long ago I read that Xbox was in need of a new mascot, well… they found it with Raz. I can’t wait to play more of this, good-looking visuals, talented voice actors, incredible level design with fun gameplay… note it down, Psychonauts 2 is winning awards in 2021.
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