Review by baba573

"As perfect as can be"

Finally a game I could sum up as: simply perfect.

Right at the start I should say that I was and still am a great fan of Tim Schafer's work. This is a man who never played safe: his games were always original and out of the norm and never failed to be so much fun to play. Unfortunately they always somehow failed to score big bucks, and it is mostly the commercially lobotomized gaming community who should take the blame. It is an eternal oxymoron: gamers always complain about lack of originality in modern games yet they always gobble up the newest generic RPG/FPS/RTS and they leave such fine, original and intelligent games like "Psychonauts" to gather dust on the store shelves.

"Psychonauts" is essentially a platformer. You take control of a funnily drawn dude who must jump around, collect different things, fight different enemies including ever-present boss characters, and eventually finish the game. Same old, right? Wrong. While the game's mechanics arguably are the thing seen many times before, the way the game plays out is so fresh you'd be hard pressed to find anything as original as this. Psychonauts isn't so much a game as it is an experience.

Firstly it's the characters. They are supposed to be human, yet they look like they have just escaped from Tim Burton's nightmare. But as weird as they are, they are so fleshed out you get to know them and feel for them right from the start (superb script and voicework also help much). Secondly it's the story - it takes place in the summer camp for kids who have psychic powers and who can physically enter and explore people's minds. Soon some evil, disturbing (not to mention completely insane) things start to happen. Telling more would probably spoil the game, so just trust me when I say that there's no way in hell you can predict how the story will play itself.

The game world is so rich it will blow you away. While the summer camp itself is very large and a joy to explore, wait until you start entering different character's minds - no two minds are alike and each one is a small masterpiece of gaming experience. And don't expect platforming is all you will do - often you will have to use your brain to solve numerous puzzles. They are never too hard and there is always a helpful hint nearby, yet there is still a great sense of accomplishment when you solve them.

Nothing is normal in this game, and yet in just a few hours of playing time things like collecting psitanium arrowheads, gathering cards for assembling psicores, buying a cobweb duster for mental cobwebs or literally sorting out emotional baggage will seem like the most natural things in the world. Also you will find that this game is REALLY addictive. There is always an urge to see what is behind the next corner, what the next level will look like or what the next psychic power you learn will do.

If you like platformers, buy this game. If you miss those good old Lucasarts adventure games, check this title out. If you like originality, humour or simply want to see something new, buy this game. Even if you hate platforming, buy this game for your brother and then just sit and watch as he plays it. There is so much in this game to enjoy it really deserves no to be passed out.

OR just buy yourself "Generic First Person Shooter part XI - now with NEW particle effects and vortex shading" or "New RPG - containing 1200+ hours of braindead repetitive gameplay!" and let the originality and true entertainment in computer games finally die.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 06/08/05

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