Indie Game Of The Month — Psychonauts

I remember hearing about this game quite a while back on a YouTube video and thinking “Well, it does sound interesting, but I don’t really know if I would actually buy it.” Later a couple of friends were telling me how great of a game it was and I still had the same mindset. It wasn’t until the Humble Indie Bundle V, and motivation from a certain friend of mine that made me buy it, and wouldn’t you know it included Psychonauts. Now that I’ve fully completed the game, I need to go back in time and slap my past self in the face several times for not buying one of the most original games I’ve ever played earlier.

Psychonauts is a 3D action platformer produced for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC in 2005, re-released on Xbox Live in 2007, Mac OSX in 2011, and Linux in 2012 by the developers known as Double Fine who produced other recent games such as Costume Quest and Brutal Legend.

In Psychonauts, you play a young psychic prodigy, Razputin, or Raz for short, who has just ran away from his family’s traveling circus to join a summer training camp by the name of Whispering Rock, for those with gifted with psychokinetic powers to become an international psychic secret agent. Unfortunately, without parent permission he is only granted three days to stay. During those three days Raz notices something strange happening at Whispering Rock to his fellow campers, and of course, it’s up to him to figure out just what is going on and stop it before his Dad comes to pick him up.

Throughout the game, Raz will have to traverse the minds of fellow psychic instructors, monsters, and even insane asylum patients to gain more psychic powers such as Telekinesis, Pyrokinesis, Levitation, and many more to aid him along the way which are represented as merit badges. Each mind is unique in design depending on whose mind you’re in, whether in Edward Teglee’s mind we see a hispanic town done in a black velvet painting style, or in Coach Oleander’s mind, a war torn battlefield, or even Fred Bonaparte’s super sized board game, they are all interesting to delve into and explore. Outside of the minds you can explore the camp, talk to campers which all have witty remarks to make, find scavenger hunt items and PSI Challenge Markers which will also boost your PSI Cadet rank.

There are so many things to this game that I just absolutely adore, such as the art style, which is reminiscent of Tim Burton films. The writing in this game, most of which was done by Tim Schafer, who some may know his other works such as Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, or Maniac Mansion, is absolutely genius and is sure to make you bust a gut before the game reaches its end. However to some the controls may be a bit strange on any platform you play it on, so be wary of that, but you’ll likely adapt as you play onwards.

By strict definition, this is no indie game, however it sold less than 90,000 on Xbox, PS2, and PC combined and it’s relatively unknown by most gamers as a result. However this can be changed, you are able to purchase this little underrated gem on Steam* for $10 which also comes with achievements or 800 Microsoft Points on Xbox Live* or if you want to do a little scavenger hunt you can check local game stores to see if they have a used Xbox or PS2 copy. I recommend buying it on Steam or Xbox 360 since it supports the game company with each purchase and they deserve every penny. So pick up a copy and become international psychic secret agents, or in other words, PSYCHONAUTS!