Feel free to watch the video review above or to read the article below, the old fashioned way.
It’s been a long time since the original Psychonauts game released for the PS2. Despite a number of re-releases, on different gaming platforms, this is the first all new Psychonauts experience in over a decade. I’ll call it an experience and not a game due to its length, as it certainly won’t take you more than two to three hours to complete, and because I’ve always considered games to be both winnable and lose-able. The only real way to fail here is to not complete it, which could also be said for a book… so, I, personally, would class this more as an experience. But don’t be put off by this assessment, as it is still an enjoyable experience. I’ve only played a few hours of the original game but enough to recognise that the charm and humour of the original is still alive and well in this new outing. The original cast are back, and it really does feel like they never left which, considering the decade long gap, is quite impressive and relieving for the fans of the original.
In the Rhombus of Ruin is set after the events in the original game and links to the upcoming sequel Psychonauts 2, due for release sometime in 2018. So what does that make it a sequel, a prequel, a seprequel? I like that word. I’ll have to trademark it. Anyway, our plucky band of Psychonauts are off to rescue the head of their organisation, who has been captured by peoples unknown and is being held in a long abandoned underwater Psychonauts facility, right in the middle of the mythical Rhombus of Ruin, where according to legend numerous ships and crews have met and untimely end. Think the Bermuda triangle. There is no movement, with the environment being explored from fixed perspectives through Raz’s, the main character of the original game, use of clairvoyance. This is a clever way to cover up the VR comfort restrictions of limited motion, to prevent motion sickness, but it still does restrict the experience quite heavily.
I’m not going to lie. There has been a lot of fixed point, short games and experiences released since the PSVR launched and the community is getting quite over saturated in them. This is one is up near the top in terms of quality. The writing is great and so is the voice acting and the title sequence is to die for, very James Bond like and by far the best part of the game, and that’s not knocking the rest of the game. The title sequence is just awesome. I’d pretty much pay the price just for that. The story telling is good, if simple and so are the puzzles and it is well worth a play whether you are a fan of the first game or not, as the mechanics work in a completely different way, anyway. The game is linear, so it’s not really possible to get lost but this does also affect the replay value which is limit. It worth being aware that you are pretty much paying for a single use experience, unless you share it with friends when they visit as there’s little incentive to play through more than once. Once you know the solution to the puzzles, it pretty much becomes a set narrative requiring button pressing. However, I did enjoy my first play through of between 2 and 3 hours and I, personally, consider it value for money, as you’re not asked to pay anything close to full game price.
There are some great environments which you can explore by mind jumping and some great VR vistas to admire. Artistic style is certainly where this game shines. I just really wish the developer had been a little more ambitious and created a full motion game rather than yet another fixed point experience but if you have PSVR then it’s well worth a play but it’s certainly not a title that I would suggest that anyone invest in the platform just to experience due to its short length and lack of replay value.