What would you get if the designer of some of the greatest point and click adventures of all time in Tim Schafer decided to make a 3D platformer? [i]Psychonauts[/i] is pretty much your answer. [i]Psychonauts[/i] is a humorous, delightful, and stirring tale about a young boy’s dreams of grandeur and his attempts at fulfilling them. This is not an unusual story concept, but one that I don’t think we see often enough in videogames. [i]Psychonauts[/i] delivers a rather quaint and visually strange view of the world where special agents with Psychic powers fight against evil doers, and it just so happens this agency, known as the [i]Psychonauts[/i] oddly enough, recruit from a training camp in the middle of nowhere. The game begins with all the students being given an introduction speech by Coach Oleander, head of the [i]Psychonauts[/i] training camp, and a runaway named Rasputin crashing the party somewhat. Though it is Rasputin’s dearest wish to become a Psychonaut, the fact that he didn’t go through the proper channels or do the right paperwork of course means that technically he couldn’t stay to learn, so he is given a bunk for the night whilst the heads of the camp try to contact his parents.
Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a game if that’s all there was to it. Through a bit of luck and the presence of some obvious Psychic talent, Raz, as he prefers to be called, manages to talk his way into taking the basic “braining” course, with the agreement that should he pass, he could then study for as long as he is at the camp. And so, Raz’s journey begins. And his journey quickly becomes an urgent one when mysterious persons seem to be stealing the brains of all his fellow students! The game has a very surprising twist half way through, and the plot, though pretty standard stuff, is fun to see unfold as almost every new segment of the game introduces a wonderful new character or location.
The basis of [i]Psychonauts[/i]’ structure is quite simple and set up by the very first 3D platformer, Super Mario 64, with the basic idea of there being a hub world and then worlds that are interconnected through portals. [i]Psychonauts[/i] does employ the rather excellent idea of making these other worlds the minds of some of the game’s characters. This means of course that the game escapes form the clichA