After 15 years, the cult hit Psychonauts will finally get a direct sequel. There was the the Rhombus of Ruin VR game in 2017, but that is more of a spin-off game that bridges the two main titles together. For Psychonauts 2, Double Fine Productions – now part of Microsoft Studios – is making sure it’s as wild and weird as it can possibly get. There are deep and twisted minds that need battling through, and players have all the skills they need to do it.
At a gameplay demonstration shown at the 2019 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the developers explained that the sequel picks up directly after the Rhombus of Ruin, where Dr. Loboto was captured. Raz, now a full a full-fledged psychic agent, must explore the depths of his mind in order to find out who he’s working for, which should lead to the location of Lili’s kidnapped father.
Interrogating Dr. Loboto
The demo, which appears to cover the first mission of the campaign, starts simply enough. Raz and the others are disguised as office workers who are throwing a party to award the Employee of the Year an all-expense paid vacation to wherever they want to go. The whole scene is a mental construct that plays out like the Psychonauts version of Inception.
Obviously, Dr. Loboto is the winner, but he needs to get the sign-off from his boss, whoever it is. All Raz has to do is follow Loboto back to whoever signs the paperwork to find out who the mastermind behind everything is. Of course, that’s when things start to fall apart.
Loboto’s mind is stronger than they realized, it begins to put up mental defenses almost immediately. Things start small, with filing cabinets and other obstructions suddenly thrown in Raz’s way to slow him down. But it’s not long before Raz is discovered, forcing him to confront Loboto head-on.
Hallways stretch out as Raz tries to run through them, gravity suddenly shifts so that everything is sideways and upside-down. The opening mission doubles as a tutorial to remind players about Raz’s different abilities, which range from bashing things to psychically lighting things on fire. So, each time Loboto’s mind throws up new defense, Raz gets a quick “remember your training” moment before he unleashes a rediscovered ability. The introduction also gives new players a chance to become familiar with the cast of characters.
Fear and Doubt eat away at you
The office construct deteriorates as Raz delves further into Loboto’s mind. Raz soon finds himself fighting off Loboto’s sense of self-censorship, which takes the form of small floating men in black suits that emerge from vortexes to stamp “no” symbols on everything that doesn’t belong. Enemies eventually escalate to include fears that must be burned away and flying doubts carrying weights that can be telekinetically snatched away and thrown.
As expected, Psychonauts 2 is fast paced, and players are quickly pulled into one situation after another. Enemies approach from multiple sides, forcing players put all their skills to work. The psychic landscape takes on a dental theme as it transforms, with giant teeth coming out of the walls and floors of the environments.
The toothy theme is related to Loboto’s mysterious boss, who is so frightening that they are able to intimidate him into keeping silent. In fact, the new character is powerful that it is actively defending Loboto’s mind and defending it against the Psychonauts. Even though Loboto wants to tell the Psychonauts everything, his boss prevents him from doing so.
The Psychonauts 2 demo concludes with a shadowy figure repeating a code phrase to Dr. Loboto in a soothing voice. Then he concludes by warning Loboto that if he reveals anything about the boss, then he’ll have to deal with “her.” That sends Loboto into a terror-filled panic, and he screams that he’ll never talk.
Psychonauts 2 will release for PC and consoles in 2020.