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Our Minds Are Playing Tricks on Us: Hands-on with Psychonauts 2

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Summary

  • The team at Xbox Wire played through the first several hours of the upcoming cinematic platformer Psychonauts 2.
  • Prep your mind for this upcoming adventure by playing the original Psychonauts today with Xbox Game Pass.
  • Psychonauts 2 launches August 25 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows PC and will be available day one with Xbox Game Pass.

On August 25, we’ll set off on another cerebral adventure with Raz in Psychonauts 2, the newest imaginative game from legendary game designer, Tim Schafer (Grim Fandango, Broken Age, Brutal Legend) and Double Fine Productions. Recently, the team at Xbox Wire had a chance to dive in and play the first few hours of the upcoming cinematic platformer to explore some of its unique environments, get reacquainted with Raz’s iconic abilities, and discover they may have a subconscious phobia of teeth.


Will: So, let’s kick things off by looking back. Did either of you play the original Psychonauts (shameless plug: play it now with Xbox Game Pass!) when it came out? I played it way back in 2005 on the original Xbox and found it to be one of the funniest, most charming platformers of the generation.

Psychonauts 2

Jeff: I’ve been trying to think back to what I was doing in 2005; what was going on in my life that led me to never play the original Psychonauts? Memories of that time are a blur of playing Jade Empire and listening to the “Kaiser Chiefs.” After a few Bing searches I confirmed that yes, Psychonauts dropped just a week after that Bioware classic, and, well, we didn’t have Xbox Game Pass back then!

Mike: The original Psychonauts continues to live in my mind, like some sort of emotional baggage, as one of the great original Xbox games I never finished – I only unlocked the first handful of psychic powers but played enough of the original to understand what was going on at Whispering Rock Summer Camp. The newsreel intro to Psychonauts 2 also helped refresh my memory, almost as if someone took a Cobweb Duster to my brain…

Will: OK, so it sounds like I am the only Psychonauts veteran. That works out quite well for this format!

Psychonauts 2

Jeff: For what it’s worth, the opening cutscene caught me up sufficiently so that I feel confident saying there’s nothing stopping you from jumping right into the game, even with no previous knowledge. And if you do want to learn the origins of Raz and his Psychonaut coworkers, Xbox Game Pass members can always go back to the first Psychonauts. Speaking of – was the original game so dentally preoccupied?

Mike: Oh, man. The teeth! The teeth… That was quite the opening level, which was both incredibly mesmerizing and unpleasant for me, in that I was playing an entire level inspired by ‘60s Art Deco, but also unnerving with each squishy step I took along a tooth-filled gumline. Still, it was capturing a lot of what made the original Psychonauts unique, in that each brainy experience you played through was a wildly different level inspired by a wounded psyche. Also, by the end of the first level, you essentially have all your core powers from the previous game right away, like Levitation, Telekinesis, and others. It was a very streamlined way to get you into the action… of being an intern! How was your first day of class?

Will: Yeah, I was glad that there wasn’t any artificial barrier to getting your core powers from the first game right off the bat in Psychonauts 2. I thought for sure we’d get some sort of “Raz lost his powers and now he has to remember how to use them!” sequence, but instead we just got a (very) quick tutorial on how to use stuff like melee attacks, PSI Blasts, and Pyrokinesis to take down the enemies we encountered in the toothy first level. I dug the first bit and was glad we were given a brand-new area to explore in Psychonauts HQ.

Psychonauts 2

Jeff: I really enjoyed how wandering around Psychonauts HQ allowed me to come to grips with Raz, while soaking in Psychonauts 2’s atmosphere, which is more abstract and cleverer than anything I’ve played in recent memory. It’s both charming and ingenious how elements of your mind, such as regrets, emotional baggage, or bad ideas are manifested as corporeal beings, often enemies to dispatched in more complicated ways than simply jumping on their heads.

Mike: One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most so far was mixing up my powers to combat enemies, like rolling around on my Levitation Ball and using Telekinesis to grab objects to throw at their heads. Are there any techniques that you’ve found to be super useful in the early going?

Will: Well, it’s not really a technique per se, but I have been enjoying the addition of the Clairvoyance power, which gives the player the ability to leap into the head of an NPC (or even a rat) to learn more about the environment around them. I particularly love the way that Raz is represented as a derpy cardboard cutout when he looks at himself through others’ eyes.

Psychonauts 2

Jeff: Of all the recent games I’ve been playing, I didn’t expect to be reminded of Scarlet Nexus! Before leaving HQ, I found myself juggling Raz’s initial melee and PSI Blast attacks with a Telekinesis move that would make Yuiti and Kasane proud. I was even able to map it to the Right Trigger as my own brain has made that connection since completing Scarlet Nexus last week. I appreciate that all these techniques are upgradeable at your discretion, making the hunt for the various collectables valuable beyond basic achievement hunting. 

Mike: I know we’re only a few brains into Psychonauts 2, but I really like the variety of the levels we’ve seen so far. We’ve travelled through slimy gums and teeth, explored the hub world of The Motherlobe (and lost our clothes), and hopped around on giant poker chips at the Lady Luctopus Casino, which wrapped up with an epic boss fight with Lady Luctopus herself. I hope this wide variety of worlds can keep up throughout the rest of the game. Is there anything you’ve seen so far that has really stood out for you?

Will: As you mentioned above, the whole aesthetic is really great. You pointed out the Art Deco feel, which is awesome, but which is taken to the next level with some jazzy background tunes that feel like they were pulled right from a swinging cocktail party. As someone who is a sucker for collectables, I also really appreciate that the upgrade system ties back into that so heavily. I like always feeling like my borderline obsessive collection actually benefits the skills and style of play I want to employ.

Psychonauts 2

Jeff: I found the entire library level delightful. So much of the best material in this level (and the game as a whole, from what I’ve played) is optional. There’s much to explore, and from an enjoyment perspective, so many characters to speak with away from the golden path. While I’m sure speedrunners will set records with Psychonauts 2 come the next Games Done Quick, this an experience you’re going to want to take your time with. Trust me, you don’t want to have to deal with any additional Regrets.


Psychonauts 2 launches August 25 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows PC and will be available day one with Xbox Game Pass. Psychonauts 2 will also support Smart Delivery, giving you the best available version for your Xbox console at no extra cost. Xbox Game Pass members can also prep their minds for this upcoming adventure by checking out the original Psychonauts today with their membership. We’ll have more to share in the lead-up to the launch next month, so keep it tuned here to Xbox Wire. Also, follow @DoubleFine on Twitter for even more info on Psychonauts 2 and their many other excellent games.

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Psychonauts 2

Xbox Game Studios

$59.99

Razputin “Raz” Aquato, trained acrobat and powerful young psychic, has realized his lifelong dream of joining the international psychic espionage organization known as the Psychonauts! But these psychic super spies are in trouble. Their leader hasn't been the same since he was rescued from a kidnapping, and what's worse, there's a mole hiding in headquarters. Combining quirky missions and mysterious conspiracies, Psychonauts 2 is a platform-adventure game with cinematic style and tons of customizable psychic powers. Psychonauts 2 serves up danger, excitement and laughs in equal measure as players guide Raz on a journey through the minds of friends and foes on a quest to defeat a murderous psychic villain.

Xbox Live

Psychonauts

Double Fine Productions

196

$9.99
Xbox One X Enhanced

This classic action/adventure platformer from acclaimed developers Double Fine Productions follows the story of a young psychic named Razputin. In his quest to join the Psychonauts–an elite group of international psychic secret agents–he breaks into their secret training facility: Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp. But this is no average psychic summer camp! A mysterious villain has kidnapped Raz’s fellow campers and stolen their brains. Now he must use his psychic powers of Telekinesis, Levitation, and most of all his ability to project himself into the minds of others–to find the loose noodles and keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Fight mental demons! Uncover hidden memories! Sort emotional baggage! Explore the fantastic realm of the inner mind! Join the Psychonauts!

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