Backlog Attack! – 2019 Challenge – June

Greetings readers, and welcome back to the 2019 Backlog Attack Challenge for Khinjarsi. Things got a little mediocre last month for both Thero and I, but I am hopeful with this month’s game.

Just a quick reminder that we choose each other’s games in 3 month batches, meaning June’s game was picked back at the end of March. Thero and I have met up and chosen the next batch which will take us to September. Let’s stick with June shall we?

Psychonauts

Psychonauts is a platformer brought to us by Double Fine (the same Double Fine who has brought us Brutal Legend, Grim Fandago Remastered and recently been bought by Microsoft). I think it’s an understatement to say that Psychonauts has become a bit of a cult classic in gaming, and I was pleased to have it picked out for me.

Stats:
Play time:
Achievements: Yes
Steam Trading Cards: Yes
Enjoyed: Yes – surprisingly so
Would recommend?: If you’ve never played it or really like 3D platformers, then absolutely. Just understand it came out a long time ago.

Thoughts:
Psychonauts is interesting. It’s a 3D platformer, which I have mixed experiences with, and I was a little concerned it wasn’t going to hold up to the “cult classic” status it has garnered. I was pleasantly surprised. A little like my time with Hell Yeah!, I found myself playing more and more for this post, but also knowing that I wasn’t going to get it finished for this post, and that was OK. It was OK because I want to enjoy the rest of the game at my own pace.

Psychonauts sees you play as Raz (Short for Rasputin), a boy with psychic abilities, who breaks into a psychic summer camp to learn how to become a Psychonaut. So far so good, until you are introduced to the summer camp and its resident nightmare children/creatures and the camp teachers, complete with creepy old dude who is somehow everywhere. Your basic platforming skills, running and jumping and maybe a double jump here and there make way for psychic based abilities such as Psi-Blast and pyrokinesis. These help you progress further into the madness that is Psychonauts, but somehow it is compelling and enjoyable.

The world is divided into “levels”, joined together in a convoluted yet coherent way by the summer camp acting as a hub world to smaller hub worlds within character’s minds. Still with me? During those levels you platform and puzzle your way to the end or solution, but also collect figments (of imagination), ghostly sketches which are both collectible and also dd up to Psi Ranks. Psychonauts has a lot of collectible things that add up to other things. Some of them I liked (the figments were a nice little joke), but I do feel that there are a lot of things to collect and look for that it becomes distracting. I also found there wasn’t too much of an explanation for some of them. In fact, there isn’t a lot of explanation for a lot of things. In one level I was being “taught” to lock-onto enemies to attack them, but wasn’t actually told what button was required and ended up looking it up in the controls section.

As I worked my way through some more of Psychonauts, I felt I was getting things under control a little more, and I wonder if that was perhaps intentional – after all, Raz (the protagonist) is new at being psychic and doesn’t know how to use or control his abilities. Or maybe I’m looking too deep into it.

Final Thoughts
Despite the minor issues with getting to grips with the million things going on, I found I enjoyed my time with Psychonauts, and have kept the game to be finished at some future date. I understand why this is a cult classic among gamers and why it’s getting a proper sequel in 2020.

Next time on Backlog Attack – a whole new set of games to start!

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