Possibly one of the best platformers I have played.
Why didn't I buy this game when it came out? Why did I wait until now? No matter, I have played it now. And I am glad I did.
This is simply put a brilliant game from the creative, crazy and funny mind of Tim Schafer. You play Razputin, a runaway circus artist, who sneaks into Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp. The camp is actually a training ground for a group of elite psychic agents called The Psychonauts. Since Raz doesn't have permission to be there from his parents, he will be picked up by his dad the next day. This means he only have one day and one night to rise to the rank of Psychonaut. Which the determined little kid is set on doing.
This means you will not only travel around the campsite, but also inside other peoples minds. That is what a Psychonaut do. And this is where the game is really fun. Every mind is different, and so every main level is different. Drastically so. Sure, you still go through the normal platforming routine of jumping, swinging and falling off ledges. But there are so many other things unique for each level. And it is very interesting seeing the insides of someones mind. It seems complicated, but things are explained well, and it seems really easy at first. Do your training, and you will learn new things. Easy.
Of course, things turns complicated quickly, when strange things starts to happen around the camp. There are rumors of a lake monster for starters. And who is the old man who manage to be at several locations seemingly at the same time? There are a lot of things to discover in this game, and you will learn everything you need before the end. Even without going out of the path to find new things.
Because you can play this two ways. Either just follow your current objective, just doing what you need to beat the game. Or you can go on your merry way, finding everything. And this is where the game really shines. If you do just what you need, and nothing more, you will find a hilarious and fun game. Not much will seem serious. And this is a crazy and fun game. But if you go out of your way to find other things, you will find that this game also has a dark side. A dark side which pushed this game from being great to being brilliant, in my opinion. I know you are not supposed to spoil things in a review, but I will write about some of these things at the end, with a nice spoiler tag before it.
Gameplay wise the game is great. Whatever you need to do is usually easily pulled off. Some things might be clunky to do, but that is normal in a platformer. The psychic powers you use during the game all have their specific purpose, but you can still use them in unconventional and funny ways, which makes it all the more interesting. The dialogue in the game is beyond perfect. There is enough of it for the game to qualify as a dialogue heavy action game, and almost all of it is funny. But if you play the game just to reach the end, you do not need to listen to much dialoge. You will miss out on a lot of fun though.
The graphics are gorgeus. Yes, this is an aging game now, and it cannot hold a candle up to behemoths like Crysis or Far Cry 2. But the visual style, the artistic behind it, is far superior to both of those games. I would go so far as to say that this game is among the top of the list when it comes to artistic games. This is art, simply put. Animations are also great. They have even put in a lot of different idle animations for Raz. You should try to stand still holding different items, or just standing still in the different minds. The Dancy Party going on inside Milla's Mind is especially funny.
Audio and sound is also perfect. All the music is great, and every voice is just as it should be. You will encounter a lot of hilarious characters with voices making them even funnier. But it is never so over-the-top to make it cringe-worthy. The sounds are also spot on.
To put it simpy, this is a game which has it all. Gameplay, graphics, sound. It is all great. And the game has a soul. It is not just a game, but a game you want to play because of the feel of it. I am going to miss Raz, Dogen, Milla, Crullen. Even Bobby Silch will be missed. So give this game a chance. You won't regret it.
This has nothing to do with the story of the game, but I still put this as a spoiler. Most people want to find things by themselves, but I want to write some about why this game is more than a fun, crazy, care-free ride.
SPOILERS! DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU DON*T WANT ANYTHING SPOILED!
I started playing this thinking it was just another fun game. And it seemed like it. It seemed better than most games, and it is. I enjoyed it. Then I opened one of the vaults in Nein's mind. The Vaults are memories they want to hide. Things they are ashamed of, or things they do not want other people to know about. Every characters mind in the game has two. This memory was called "Nein's First Loss", if I remember correctly. These memories are shown like a slideshow. As you scroll through this slideshow, you can see Nein's parents from his eyes when he was a baby. And the family seems so happy. Then Nein's mother dies. It hit me really, the sadness of it. It changed my view of this game, because this was not something funny. It was something I would never suspect, and it gave a whole different layer of meaning behind the Nein character. Then I found a similar vault in Milla's mind. Then more or less every mind had one of these stories. Under the fun and care-free exterior, this game is dark. Very dark. And it makes it so much better.