THESE days, movie and TV are filled with revivals: continuations of a much-loved story a long time later which can be an opportunity to revisit favorite characters when they’re older and maybe wiser. In current years, I’ve loved returning to the worlds of Jurassic Park, Twin Peaks and Veronica Mars to call only a few. Of course, there’s all the time the prospect that revivals go flawed – the latest season of The X-Files most likely ought to have remained buried in an FBI vault someplace.
It’s this danger that had me holding my breath earlier than starting Psychonauts 2, a sequel to one in every of my favorite video video games of all time. The unique Psychonauts, a cult traditional, got here out greater than 15 years in the past, a spot nearly exceptional in an business that tends to launch yearly sequels. Barring a quick virtual-reality spin-off in 2017, I wasn’t anticipating to see one other instalment.
Thankfully, I needn’t have nervous about this revival. The new recreation’s story picks up simply three days after the tip of the primary one, which noticed a younger boy referred to as Raz attend a summer season camp for people with psychic talents run by the Psychonauts, a form of psychic spy company. Here, he discovered to dive into folks’s minds and assist them come to phrases with their deepest fears.
In Psychonauts 2, Raz turns into an intern for the organisation. The construction of the sport is far the identical – exploring strange mindscapes – however its method to mental health has grown in sophistication. “We’re not here to change people’s minds, not here to fix people,” one of many Psychonauts tells Raz early within the recreation. “We’re here to help people fight their own demons.”
“The entire game sparkles with wit and creativity, withoutshying away from serious issues”
The complete recreation sparkles with wit and creativity, with out shying away from severe points. For instance, one stage entails Raz serving to somebody with a worry of judgement. This manifests in his thoughts as a weird model of The Great British Bake Off, through which Raz has to organize quite a lot of anthropomorphic elements (that are all very cute and intensely passionate about being cooked) earlier than presenting the outcomes to a panel of judges.
Other mindscapes that Raz visits embody a mash-up between a hospital and a on line casino, a metropolis constructed from bowling lanes and a huge mailroom. But my favorite must be the thoughts of a mind in a jar, performed fantastically by Jack Black, who has utterly misplaced his sense of self. You assist him rediscover it by reuniting his 5 senses, represented as band members who’re scattered throughout a Yellow Submarine-esque psychedelic land.
The enemies you encounter inside these minds all derive from mental health concepts. These embody Regrets, which fly about and try to weigh you down; Bad Moods, which you need to research to seek out their supply; and Panic Attacks, which frantically scrabble at you in a approach that may be overwhelming. It’s all thematically becoming and really effectively thought out.
As an entire, Psychonauts 2 walks a high-quality line between exploring trauma and making mild of it. The recreation opens with a thoughtfully worded psychological well being advisory, warning gamers that it tackles serious conditions, however often in a comic book method. It may very well be a recipe for catastrophe, however the workforce succeeds on this balancing act even when occasions take a a lot darker flip within the latter half of the sport. Even when you haven’t performed the primary instalment, I extremely advocate it, because it is likely one of the finest video games to date this yr.
Jacob additionally recommends…
PlayStation 3 and 4
More travels in different mindscapes. An pleasant but prolonged story.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Series X/S, Nintendo Switch
A girl with psychosis battles her approach by Norse mythology. Her expertise bursts by through unbelievable audio results.