It’s a little saddening to see half-decent games underselling and disappearing off the face of the gaming planet. It’s even more saddening when the game in question isn’t half-decent, it’s astonishingly good. Psychonauts is one of these – an original, amazingly fun, varied platformer that was swept under the carpet while poor sequels jumped off the shelves and into people’s gaming collections.
In Psychonauts, you play as a boy called Razputin who has inherited psychic powers. His dad doesn’t want him to use them, but he does, so he’s run off and joined a psychic school. The tutorials take the form of lessons. As you progress, the plot darkens.
What makes Psychonauts truly stand out is the variety. Using a device given to you part of the way through the game, you can enter the minds of other people. Each person’s mind takes a different form – it’s there that the variety (and originality of many of the levels) comes in. The standout level sees you entering a janitor’s mind and hunting for someone called the Milkman. The level is a rural district, which’s road twists around like crazy.
Other fascinating levels include one where you enter the mind of someone playing a war board game – you actually go into the board itself and have to complete the game by moving pieces safely to their destinations. There’s also a hunt for playing cards in the mind of a matador, which culminates in a battle where you have to fire arrows at a bull using telekinesis.
Graphically, Psychonauts isn’t (and wasn’t at the time of release) stunning, but it’s certainly adequate. You can always tell what’s happening.
Psychonauts is available from game retailers at a very undeservedly cheap price. It can be bought for PlayStation 2 (the version I have), PC, and Xbox (and Xbox 360 if you include its release on the Marketplace). Alternatively, you can play it for free with adverts on GameTap. If you haven’t already, go and do it now. You’re missing out.