Psychonauts Xbox Review

May 30, 2010 by Simon Wigham  
Filed under Retro Content, Retro Reviews, Xbox

Psychonauts has been praised on a critical level, not because it’s a platformer that matches the legendary Mario 64 in terms of playability, nor the fact that the game changes the genre to such an extent that many developers will be copying it for years to come either. It simply doesn’t achieve such extraordinary feats and in actual fact at its core it is a simple standard platformer, albeit a very efficiently executed one which has all the genre elements in place, consisting of much jumping about and an emphasis on collecting items.

So why the gushing praise then?

The majority seem to view the game as a solid platformer, although it’s not necessarily the classic that reviews suggest, and many gamers probably won’t look back on in earnest when they are grey of hair and wrinkly of skin. But it’s the sense of humour that without doubt receives the most commendation from gamers and just about pushes it to the apex of high opinions.

Razputin, who prefers to be known as Raz is a Psychonaut in training, which is a person who literally dives in to the minds of people to destroy their personal demons and tidy up their heads. Bug eyed Raz discovers that some nasty piece of work is stealing his fellow Psychonauts brains and hopes to put a stop to this evil scheme by becoming a full fledged Psychonaut himself. The voice acting is top class, the characters are a likeable bunch and the aforementioned humorous nature, whilst on occasion a little bit too Saturday morning cartoon for our taste, features plenty of jokes that are likely to be appreciated to a greater extent by the more wise to the world of gamers.

Inhabiting peoples noggins for a significant duration of the game, has allowed Tim Schafers team to produce some creative levels that are an utter joy to transverse. One example being the opening level that’s staged in the head of the loud war veteran: Coach Oleander and is somewhat fittingly an obstacle course that begins in a recruiting room and then tasks you with crossing such hazards as mine fields as well as ascending walls that are being shelled, all whilst the coach makes fun of your abilities. Later levels see Raz growing to the size of King Kong and swatting planes from out of the sky, whilst others see you entering the mind of a deranged milkman, which, in both its design and its inhabitants is a truly bizarre level somewhat unsurprisingly.

Being a wet behind the ears Psychonaut means that Raz begins the game with conventional platform star moves, but as he strives to become a Psycho warrior, you’ll gain many more moves such as psi blast, which allows you to blast baddies with the power of your mind, telekinesis meanwhile allows you to toss them around and our favourite: levitation, where Raz utilizes his own thoughts to produce a ball with which he can roll around on and for additional height he can even bounce on it, space hopper style.

Psychonauts may not be quite the game that many make it out to be, however, whilst we’ve played far better platformers that garner significantly less praise, it does still do everything well and yes it’s funny too, but a sense of humour does in no way make for a classic game.

8/10

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