October 24, 2005

Review - Psychonauts [VG]



Psychonauts has been a long time time coming. Haven't heard of it? I'm wouldn't be surprised; it's not exactly one of those games with a marquee that you can't avoid when walking into your local Gamestop. Still, it's the first game produced by video game god Tim Schafer since he left Lucas Arts in 1998. I know most people don't know nearly as much about the history of video games as they likely know about the history of movies, but Schafer's body of work includes the first two Monkey Island games, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango; all classics in the adventure game genre. Bottom line, in video game history Schafer's a giant, but gaming has moved away from the point and click adventures of the past in favor of more action oriented affairs in the last several years.

Unlike his previous works, Schafer made Psychonauts a platforming game (think Mario/Sonic), probably precisely to up the action level a bit for those people too deficient in attention to think of themselves are a participant in a story as opposed to just some character that shoots stuff. The action's fine and all, and well executed for that matter, but if you're skipping the cut scenes in this game or choosing not to talk to the people you run into on your journies you're really missing what makes this game special. The thing that Schafer's games do that almost no other games out there do is make the world feel unique to itself. What's that you say? There's a new WWII shooter out there?! How original! There is literally no game quite like Psychonauts. Yes, it shares some basic fundamentals with other games of the genre but unlike so many of its (better selling) competitors there's nothing generic about Psychonauts.

The story starts with young Raz sneaking into a secret government-run training camp for psychic cadets. Since he's not officially enrolled the councilors call his parents to come pick him up, leaving Raz a mere two days to complete all of his training and become a Psychonaut! In order to do this Raz must enter the minds of various people he meets along the way, sorting out the emotional baggage (literally baggage), fighting back their ego's censors, and curing their psychoses while earing psychic power merit badges. Again, there's really no game like it, and there are several parts of the game that are genuinely funny

I had the option to buy it used, but though my default cheapness almost always forces me into that purchase, I ended up with a new copy because it's so rare that a truly original game comes around that I wanted to actually give some level of support. I couldn't be happier with the purchase.


If you like platforming games you really owe it to yourself to play this game. Just please God don't skip the cutscenes!

"I turn from surreal to seclusion / From love to disdain / From belief to delusion / From a thief to a beggar / From a god to God save me"
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3 comments:

sarah said...

Dreamtheater - misunderstood

sarah said...

can you tell i've got free time on my hands?

Joy said...

No free time but still, a definition of the word verification word! I like this game!
tbuqobjp - pronounced "t'boo Ko b'zjeep" Cajun for "redneck"