geniuses where there are Double Fine is one of the most talented studios to ever exist in the history of video games. The team led by Tim Schaffer it has given us adventures of the caliber of Grim Fandango or Brutal Legend. All of them are timeless titles that overflow with originality like we have rarely seen.
However, the two works with which they have shone especially are part of the same universe. Both Psychonauts and Psychonauts 2 are masterpieces in terms of narrative, mechanics, and staging that oozes the word psychedelia everywhere. Both titles are available on Xbox Game Pass, for both Xbox and PC consoles.
The first psychonauts came to light in 2005 and proposed an unusual approach. It’s up to us to take control of Razputín Aquato, a young man with psychic powers who wants to be part of the psychonauts, a group of elite secret agents. To do this, he signs up for the Whispering Rock summer camp, from which the next component of this very special team will emerge. However, everything goes wrong, because a mysterious villain steals the brains of all our protagonist’s companions and it will be time to save them to prove that we are worth as a psychonaut.
Taking into account that Raz has the aforementioned psychic powers, we can make use of abilities full of possibilities such as telekinesis or levitation. Platforms, action, collectibles and scenarios that remain etched on fire for a simple reason: we can sneak into the minds of the rest of the characters. That’s right, we will visit the intricacies of his head and the levels that we will go through are projections of his fears, virtues and traumas that he has not been able to overcome. It is there where the imaginative muscle of Double Fine comes to light, in a mixture that seems to remind us of the movie Origin with Tim Burton’s own visual approaches. In about 12 hours of play you have completed the main plot, as long as you ignore the rest of the missions.
The truth is that the word success cannot be related to psychonauts. The development was absolutely chaotic, with the studio giving too much organizational freedom to the workers, resulting in a concoction that was very difficult to fit together. The production lasted more than four years, with a total cost of more than 11 million dollars. In 2012, before the game was released on new platforms, sales had only reached 400,000 copies. Still, critics praised the game’s approach, which achieved cult status over time.
16 years later and with a turbulent development that seemed to anticipate that we would never see the game, psychonauts 2 appeared in our lives. And he did it to act as a direct sequel to the previous title, showing us that the Raz universe still has a lot to tell. Our beloved circus acrobat is ready to join the psychonauts, but everything quickly goes downhill as soon as we find out that the leader of the organization is up to something.
As if that were not enough, you have to discover the mole that has infiltrated the headquarters, so you will have to get down to work. This second installment repeats the mid-2000s formula, but takes it to the next powerhouse with ingredients we’ve always loved: levels full of originality, humor in abundance and impossible powers at our service. The characters we come across are full of charisma and have diametrically opposed personalities, as well as a job regarding dubbing that does not admit criticism.
Once again, not only Raz’s extraordinary powers that we can improve, but also his skills as a circus artist to overcome all kinds of platforms are put at the service of the mechanics. All this is combined with combat against beings taken from nightmares or dreams, as well as puzzles and riddles where we can slow down time or move pieces from one place to be clear about what to do. If you are very curious about Double Fine’s work in psychonauts 2, you can take a look at the documentary of more than 30 episodes on how the whole team carried out the game. A masterclass about the inner workings of the video game industry.