Psychonauts came out a million years ago for the original X-Box. The conceit was simple: you’ve snuck into a summer camp for budding young telepaths. You get caught and they call your dad… and you’ve got juuuust enough time to go to a handful of Activities before he comes to pick you up. The activities involve being taught how to become more expert at telepathic skill and the various levels take place in the various brains of the summer camp counselors (along with a handful of various other entities such as a pet fish and a troubled security guard).
The fact that the game takes place in the minds of others is what allows for the game to shine. When you’re in the German Counselor’s level and he teaches you about the importance of your inner censor (and what happens when they start running rampant), the level changes from a stern (almost austere) Bauhaus aesthetic to a stern (almost austere) aesthetic with a giant censor running after you with a giant interdictory circle stamp. The security guard you meet seems boring enough, but the level of his mind is called “The Milkman Conspiracy”. You wander around a neighborhood where every mailbox has a secret camera, every fire hydrant a listening device, and the construction workers all have government earpieces and say such things as “Yes, we all work on the road crew. Our backs are killing us.”
Playing the game was fun in its own right (if it was a bit of a clone of all of the “This Is A 3-D platformer and you must collect ALL OF THE THINGS” 3-D platformers that were so popular at the start of the oughts), but the game was wonderful because of the sense of discovery that you had in this sandbox that, superficially, was similar to every other sandboxy collect everything 3-D Platformer that was around at the time.
Well, it’s more than a decade later and they’ve finally putting together a sequel. It looks like they’re trying to get key players from the original creative team together and they have hit the necessary goals to get everything together.
Now we just have to do our best to forget such things as the similarly kickstarted Broken Age’s Part 2 and the entire debacle surrounding DF-9… but if we can do that, we might just be able to hope for a for real sequel to one of the most fun games of the Xbox/PS2 generation of games.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is “Untitled” by our very own Will Truman. Used with permission)