Review by Iemander

"Platform perfection"

Psychonauts is one of those little gems that come out once every 4 years, that defines the word classic all over again with brilliant new innovations and a presentation so flawless you can't help but keep going. If there's one game you're going to pick up this decade, Psychonauts is an extremely safe bet.

You play Raz, Psychonaut in the making, dropped off in a Psychonauts youth camp. Psychonauts are people with amazing physic abilities, and these powers will become available to you over the course of the game. In this intro scene where Raz is found trespassing in a Psychonauts youth camp, we get introduced to the best aspect of the game. Raz, his teachers and his fellow students who just drool quality all over the screen. The jokes are hilarious and will keep you interested in what they're going to say next. The cut scenes are particularly well played out and interesting, the personalities are likable all over and very diverse. There's even a little romance mixed in between that gets played out just right to the end. It's hard to pinpoint what exactly makes this game such a charm. The voice acting, music, art direction and storyline are all astounding and very fitting. Suffice to say, this game is in the same league as a Pixar film quality wise. Basically, Raz must “fight evil” by entering people's minds and look for hidden answers, solve mysteries or defeat inner demons. That is the work of the Psychonaut!

After a level, you'll be able to roam the “playgrounds” a little. Your friends are scattered all over and you'll be able to find some nice gathering secrets and be able to talk to your friends in these intermezzo. These are fun(ny) and very welcome pauses after each level.

Gameplay

At its roots, Psychonauts is actually a pretty basic platform game with some (Admittedly just terribly awesome) psychic powers mixed in between. The thing is, the levels are designed in such a way that each and every one of them is nothing like the one preceding it, you'll never get bored with the incredible diversity between each and every one of them. One moment you're jumping around in a pinball like area with your levitation ball, the next you're looking for a flower so you can disguise yourself as a widow after which you run through alleyways avoiding a giant bull that pumps the streets every few minutes. Plain, plain, awesome. There's even a level where you can act like King Kong and smash a fish city to bits, complete with newsflashes and flying airplanes cruising around skyscrapers.

The Psychic powers are in one word, awesome. You've got a power to levitate objects and throw them around, or levitate yourself and fly all over the place with a special levitation ball. How about being able to turn invisible and sneaking up on opponents, or using clairvoyance on NPCs to see how they look at you. Naturally you've got basic powers too, like shooting a laser beam and burning things with Pyrokenisis (Try burning NPCs, hilarious really).

The game might not have a lot of replay value, there's not much to see after you complete it. The game does however have a very large amount of collectibles. You must collect cards, go on scavenger hunts, and collect webs and hidden memories from the minds you enter and more. The rewards come in the form of nice pictures that tell more about the person's mind you've entered, or additional psychic powers. So the effort is definitely well spent, and you'll keep going at it I'm sure.

Controls

I rarely rate this factor, but in a 3rd person game like this one where you have numerous abilities to control, a game really rises and falls on its controls. Fortunately, these are really slick and easy to use. The camera never gets annoying and is highly adjustable, Raz acts exactly the way you expect him to. These are pretty much flawless executed.

I do have to mention that I have use a gamepad with enough buttons. I expect the keyboard being versatile enough to handle Psychonauts. However, a gamepad is always recommended when talking about platform titles.

Your psychic powers can be assigned to 3 hotkeys and each and every one of ‘em is thoroughly explained through a training round once you get it. Sometimes even an entire level based on this particular ability.

Basically, you'll have no trouble or annoyances at all. That's a safe bet.

Sound

As I've said before, the voice acting for Raz and his friends is of very high quality. It was a real treat to actually being able to say that this game rivals a Pixar film in its cinematic qualities. Everyone is appropriately casted and the voices give enough emotion to make them believable. Not only that, the music is great as well! The music has a lot of memorable tunes that will forever get stuck in your head. Just as much, the sound effects are pleasant and never annoying.

Graphics

Psychonauts has a very distinctive art style. The characters have this very deformed look fitting to their personality, the old ground keeper/ranger/etc really does look like a loony and he really is! Really drips off personality, you'll come to love the art style and all the personalities attached to them. The levels all look distinctive, the twisty milkman level where the entire level is actually a giant spiral, the bull level where the entire level looks like a very artistic painting, or how about a meat circus (Yes you can take that literally). You'll be itched each level, curious of what the next will be. Some are really scary however, others are downright hilarious.

Technically, the game looks very good, the textures are high res and everything is made out of a high amount of polygons. Saying this game is a Doom 3 rival is giving it too much credit. But it's still looking awesome in its own right. You will need a pretty solid computer to run all of this eye candy however. I had some big framedrops on my P4 3ghz with Radeon 9800 pro. These all happened in quiet areas, where the polygon count is massive but the action is low. Still, be sure you have the computer to run the game, it's pretty taxing.

Conclusion

I left out the storyline section, but I think everything I've said about it scattered over the review says enough, can't spoil more! You'll love it, I'm sure. Psychonauts isn't just a great game, it's a downright classic that shouldn't be missing from any PC owner out there with a decent enough computer and a love for games.

What are you waiting for? Just go out and get it, you won't regret the decision.

Graphics – 9/10
Sound – 9/10
Gameplay – 10/10
Storyline – 10/10

Overall score (Not an average)
10/10


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/03/05


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