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Fans of cult PlayStation 2 era platformers rejoice because the Psychonauts are back and are looking better than ever. There’s a catch though. That catch being that they’re in a virtual reality game for PlayStation VR called Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin. Also it’s now a first person puzzler, not a third person platformer. That’s not a reason to worry though, as the game is still rife with the writing, humour and design that made the original such a cult hit back in 2005.

You control the loveable scamp Raz once again, picking up directly after the end of the first game on a mission to save a very important person. The introduction sequence does well to show you how you’ll be conducting yourself through the course of the game, whilst also giving you plenty to play about with and have some fun. You’ll have telekinesis, pyrokinesis and a psi blast to try and figure out most of the puzzles that appear throughout your journey, but the main power you will use is your clairvoyance.

To avoid the issue many virtual reality games have of causing motion sickness, you travel about from place to place using your clairvoyance to basically teleport. Just pick out the living thing you want to jump in to the brain of and you can warp in to it. It may sound tedious but it’s surprisingly fun picking out the right thing to warp to. The reason as to why you’re warping is always justified from a story perspective too, which is a nice touch.

The story is constructed well, with some genuine laughs in there, and the pacing of the game feels about the right length for the kind of virtual reality experience it is. It will likely take you between two to three hours to complete the game on your first go, although it must be noted that I was taking my time exploring the environments and looking at the little details. Outside of looking at the little details though, there’s limited replayability unless you’re a trophy hunter.

To some that will be a negative, but it’s a fun experience while it lasts and it’s a good looking one too. The character design and level construction is, for the most part, lovely. So is the sound design and writing. It feels like being in an animated film and nearly everything about it left me with a smile on my face, even the options menu and credit sequences.

That’s not to say there aren’t issues with the game. It’s fairly easy to progress through, which does make it accessible to more people, but may mean seasoned gamers will get bored. Some of the sections are a touch fiddly, with points to teleport to making it more awkward to move about than is desirable. Finally, not all of the puzzles have that “aha” moment, feeling more like a moment where you know exactly what to do but the controls, for whatever reason, are making it slightly too difficult to do it.

This is a rarity though, and the reason for it having this issue is probably down to the amount of variety in the game despite its short play time. Most puzzles offer something new to do and there’s various things you can have fun with in the environments too. In many ways it feels like a stripped down point and click game where you try clicking on various things just to see what they do. The game seems prepared for this and makes sure there is a line of dialogue for most situations, including if you’re taking too long to solve a puzzle.

Considering Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin is around the £15 mark, there is a great level of polish to it. If you are a fan of the original Psychonauts and just want to see some of the characters again and what they look like in virtual reality, then it’s definitely worth checking out. If you’re new to the series then don’t worry, there’s still a lot of fun to be had. It sets up the upcoming sequel well for both the newcomers and the series veterans, whilst also setting the standard it will need to hit fairly high.

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You can watch my first hour with the game below, where I show off how subtitles look and how the menus work among other things.



Author

Brett Claxton

I like video games. That's why I write about them. I've played them for years and in that time I've found a love for creepy horrors, indie darlings and the oddities that come out of Japan. Although my main purpose on the site is to write up news and reviews I'm also one of the main Let's Play video creators of the team (or, as I call them, Brett's Play videos). You can check them out here: https://www.youtube.com/user/Bretteh2