Episode 17: Psychonauts

Originally released for the PlayStation 2, Psychonauts achieved its status as a cult classic through bizarre Tim Burton-esque visuals and a novel approach to environmental storytelling. Bursting at the seams with Double Fine's eccentric sense of humour, Psychonauts tells the story of Razputin, a young psychic who runs away from the circus in order to prove the worth of his oft-maligned abilities.

While Psychonauts may have mesmerised its audience back in 2005, does this big brained adventure still have what it takes today, or is this one circus act best left avoided?

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In order to answer this, Pat and James ask themselves:

  • What's in an art style? Psychonauts' presentation is uniquely and creatively fantastical. Is this styling effective at delivering its themes to the player, or is it just bizarre for the sake of it?

  • Mental illness is a difficult subject to tackle, particularly in a light comic game like this one. How well do the levels in Psychonauts reflect the character’s psyche? How well do your actions reflect ‘curing’ the characters of their illnesses?

  • How important is mechanical gameplay versus presentation? If it feels like you’re doing something narratively meaningful and novel, does it matter if mechanically its not really that interesting?

Find out in this fortnight's episode of Retro Spectives!

If you enjoyed the show and wanted to have a chat about Psychonauts, a past game or even what you had for lunch, come on over to our Discord and let us know what you think!

Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen K
Outro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to another
Psychonauts OST: Peter McConnell

Pat’s Article on Psychonauts