Psychonauts 2 will only be released on August 25th, but we had the opportunity to preview its gameplay. At Microsoft’s invitation, we played about five hours of the game on Xbox Series X and chatted with its developers at a really fun roundtable.
This dive into the mind of Tim Schafer and the Double Fine team left a taste of wanting more, and it was great to see that the game is almost ready, properly located in Portuguese, very polished and practically bug-free, promising to be one of the best titles. legal 2021. Check out our full preview below!
A very creative adventure
Tim Schafer is one of the most charismatic and inventive designers in the industry. From the time of the late LucasArts, their teams would create a myriad of fascinating worlds. From Full Throttle to Grim Fandango, passing through Broken Age and Brütal Legend, his involvement guarantees unforgettable characters and environments unlike anything you’ve seen before.
In 2005, already in charge of the Double Fine studio, Tim gave life to the cult hit Psychonauts. Although not an immediate sales success, its ports and re-releases helped the title gain traction among the community, even guaranteeing an exclusive VR sequel called Psychonauts In The Rhombus of Ruin.
Although Psychonauts 2 is a direct sequel to the events seen in these titles, you don’t need to have played any of them to enjoy their plot, not least because a charming recap sums up the lore and events as you begin the new journey, (re)introducing the protagonist Razputin “Raz” Aquato to the general public.
From fugitive from the circus to member of the international spy group Psychonauts, we find Raz already on a mission to invade Dr. Loboto’s mind, which ends up serving as a tutorial to know the mechanics of action in a very organic and natural way, while the story of Psychonauts 2 unfolds.
more polished gameplay
The first Psychonauts was a 3D platform game far ahead of its time, and as such it ended up making some technical stumbling blocks in its daring attempts to do something new. Some gameplay snippets, for example, dared to tweak the axis of three-dimensional platforms in a way that only Super Mario Galaxy could do right a few years later.
So, it’s really cool to note how, already in its first few minutes of action, Psychonauts 2 shows itself as a mature and well-planned 3D adventure, with elegant systems very well connected to each other. Traveling through Dr. Loboto’s mind means exploring different perspectives and camera angles as Raz learns to double-jump and fire both short and long range jabs.
While not very challenging due to the very nature of the game’s design — there’s even a way to enable invulnerability to complete any stress-free stage — the rooms instigate by the way the environment helps present the story and characters.
Raz’s mission is to find out who Dr. Loboto is working for, but as he looks around, our hero soon notices that someone has instructed the villain not to open his mouth. After all, the rooms inside his unconscious are filled with posters with messages like “Only Pigs Tell” or a censored tooth that says “Mouth Closed.”
If the elements of the environment help to tell the story in a more direct way, the theme and design of the phases speed up the process of getting to know the villains better. As Dr. Loboto is a former dentist, several objects and areas of his mind revolve around dental arches, with lots of gums for you to climb and molars to use as a platform here and there.
Additions welcome, but there are sacrifices
When we interviewed Tim Schafer, he commented on his desire to turn Psychonauts 2 into a vehicle for celebrating humanity and creating empathy, and the team’s sensitivity when dealing with complicated issues related to mental health is evident.
The screenwriter had been very concerned about not hurting people, which is a noble motivation in itself, but the impression that remained throughout the first hours of the campaign is that, in the drive not to touch hornets, the text stepped too far. on the brake and explosively hilarious situations like those seen in the original game and in his other works were lacking.
Those were other times, it’s true, but the first Psychonauts had a bit of that Nickelodeon animation vibe in the 1990s, where everything was a little “dirty” or “disgusting.” There was a sense of violence and aggression smoldering around every corner, with even children exploding during classes, so the tone is much milder now, for better or for worse.
To compensate, Psychonauts 2‘s scope is much larger, with wider areas to explore, more dialogue trees to get to know the NPCs better, and a ton of collectibles scattered throughout the levels, ranging from humorous “emotional baggage” to items that you trade for improvements to your abilities.
Even in its first few hours of campaigning it is already very clear that this is the biggest and most ambitious project in the history of Double Fine, with a very good performance on the new generation of Xbox systems, running at 4K and 60fps on the Xbox Series X. Com technical excellence going hand in hand with vibrant level and character design, Psychonauts 2 has what it takes to be one of the biggest releases of the year!
Are you excited about what’s been shown from the game so far? Will you play it when it enters the Xbox Game Pass day one catalogue? What is your favorite Tim Schafer game? Comment below!