Quick Look – Psychonauts 2

I always feel a little left out when people talk about the games from their formative years (whatever that means for them). Mostly, they’re going to be console games, probably Nintendo, and I had almost no Nintendo experience at all until the past 6 months or so. Since I was already a diehard PC gamer from my teenage years, the games that I remember really grabbing hold of me are usually off the beaten path of most people I know, even when we’re similar in age. I fell in love with Tamriel playing Daggerfall, and have picked up every Elder Scrolls title since on release day. I spent an obnoxious amount of time puzzling my way through The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour. I oversaw the rise and fall of great empires in Zeus: Master of Olympus, and watched people plummet to their fiery demises due to lax safety inspections in RollerCoaster Tycoon. And I got my introduction to the wild world of 3D platforming collectathons playing the original Psychonauts.

Despite platformers being one of my least played genres, since I’m awful at them, Psychonauts stuck with me. I held onto those discs for years, until finally re-purchasing the game twice – once for the XBox 360, and again on Steam. Now, mind you, I didn’t actually finish the game until 2018. Even if it did take me 13 years to complete, it’s still one of my proudest gaming moments.

So, obviously, I was a little bit excited about the sequel finally releasing.

And boy, was it a sequel worth waiting for. DoubleFine took everything that made the original Psychonauts so memorable – the characters, the story, the absolutely bonkers settings, and turned it up a notch. They then looked at all the things that were … less great … and made adjustments so that both returning players and folks new to the world could enjoy it even more than the first one.

Obviously, not all gamers were thrilled with the fact that the game would feature an Invincibility mode, and I am firmly in the camp of any game developer who decides to include a stress-free option for people who want to just enjoy the world and the story.

In fact, there are multiple difficulty toggles (listed under Accessibility in the options menu), for people who want less of a challenge than offered by the base game, but a little bit more than God Mode. You can choose to enable an easier mode for combat (where you do far more damage to enemies) or one that negates falling damage, if the platforming is what’s holding you back.

Despite the fact that I am struggling hard (I spent approximately 3 hours redoing a boss fight until I beat it), I have not yet elected to mess around with these options, but it’s good to know that I won’t have to leave this one unfinished for a decade or more.

I’m closing in on the mid point of the game’s main quest, just under 8 hours in. I have spent a minimal amount of time just exploring because I am really caught up in the story. Which leads me to another great change from the original – there is no point of no return. If you’re the type who likes to play through the story and then run around picking up collectibles and looking for secrets, you can absolutely do that. However, once you are past the midpoint, you will be locked out of certain areas until a future point in the story, and the game warns you very clearly about this.

I’ve had to take a bit of a break due to hand fatigue from the being unused to playing for long periods of time with a controller, but I honestly haven’t been this excited to play a game in a long time.

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