Psychonauts Preview

It’s creative and original content that makes games truly interesting and enjoyable. However, these two qualities have been somewhat lacking in recent titles. Fortunately Tim Schafer, the mastermind behind such titles as Grim Fandango and Full Throttle, is back with a completely new action adventure game. With such titles under his belt, it should come as no surprise that his latest endeavor sets out to be not only original and wacky but damn fun as well. Psychonauts, as it’s so called, may just be the one unique title that PC gamers have been longing for.

Psychonauts is a basic platformer action title which is something we don’t see too often on PCs. It can be compared most closely to titles such as Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank on the PS2. However, Psychonauts has a few cards up its sleeve that makes it stand out as an original title which we’ll explain later in more depth. In Psychonauts, you take on the role of Raz who is a new student at a psychic training camp for children. Basically the camp is used to train kids how to use their psychic powers against the forces of evil. When a strange enemy decides to invade the camp and steal everyone’s brains, it’s up to Raz to put a stop to it.

We’ve recently had some hands-on time with the large demo for Psychonauts and we’re definitely pleased with what we’ve seen so far. The demo only features one main mission which is actually the training mission, but there seems to be a slight sense of free-roaming ability here. Right form the beginning you’re given the opportunity to walk around the surrounding area at will. You can find some hidden items and even talk to other students. Most things students will say are either funny or just simply witty. As far as hidden items go there are a number of different treasures to find and areas to explore. One such item that’s very abundant in the world are arrowheads. These are basically used as the currency in the camp and can be used to buy things from the camp store.

Once you’re done exploring the area, it’s then off to class. Once you get into class you’ll notice that the class itself doesn’t take place in the real world. Instead everyone hooks up to the coach’s mind. His brain basically serves as the training field and you must relive all of his war torn memories. His mind is sure corrupt with a lot of strange events, but this is what makes Psychonauts so appealing.

It’s only fitting that the training mission takes place within your instructor’s mind as most of the game’s battles will take place within the mental realms of your enemies. The training mission that we played basically shows you the ins and outs of the gameplay and shows you some of the mental items that you’ll come across. These items consist of a number of things including emotional baggage, figments of one’s imagination, cobwebs, and a small safe that hides away the individuals dark secrets. Upon opening one of these safes, you’ll be able to slide through some pictures of the person’s memories. As far as the instructor’s memories go they were of war and battles. However, one of the main items to collect are the figments. These are usually just large flat items that you can walk through which resemble many different things. Collecting a certain amount of these will allow you to open up new psychic powers later on in the game.

It’s these psychic powers that really give this title the upper edge. One of the first psychic powers you will be able to unlock is levitation. This isn’t your usual levitation though. Raz will be able to create a ball-like object from which he can bounce off of to reach higher areas, roll on, or use as a parachute to glide down from a higher place. A lot more powers become unlocked later on that allow Raz to manipulate the environment including pyrokinesis and telekinesis. Telekinesis will obviously allow Raz to move objects around by using his mind which will give you the opportunity to get past certain areas by using different methods. There are also different paths to take in certain levels.

As far as the visuals go, everything is looking great at this point and the art direction is superb. The characters themselves resemble cartoon-styled creatures with big eyes and friendly faces, and the environments look like something out of dreamland. Although that’s probably a perfect setting when considering the game’s content. To add to the cartoon antics the smoke within the game is also cell-shaded which gives it a nice effect. Psychonauts may seem a little childish due to all of this, but that’s really not the case. It’s sure to appeal to both adults and kids alike.

At this point Psychonauts is looking like a great title that’s sure to offer up some unique gameplay and humorous moments. It’s a title that feels very polished and just may be the sleeper hit of the year. Fortunately you don’t have to wait much longer to jump into the brains of your foes as Psychonauts is set to ship on April 19th. At which point we will have a full review for your reading pleasure.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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