Psychonauts 2: The 2005 mental health-themed, award-winning game finally gets its long-awaited sequel | Ents & Arts News


It’s been 16 years since the first Psychonauts game was released on the original Xbox and PC, with fans asking for just as long about when they would be getting a sequel.

Xbox and Double Fine Productions have finally heard the call, and 25 August sees the release of Psychonauts 2.

The pressure to recreate the magic of the original is massive. To date it has sold 1.7 million copies, won a BAFTA games award and an E3 Best Original Game award, and is widely regarded as one of the best video games ever created.

Pic: Double Fine Productions
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It revolves around a boy that discovers he possesses psychic abilities. Pic: Double Fine Productions

The plot revolves around a boy who discovers he has psychic powers, ranging from telekinesis to mind control, and wishes to join the psychic organisation known as the Psychonauts.

The role of these psychic agents is to repair people’s damaged minds; linear tasks that structure the game.

Levels are, much like the original, split up into two different types: those within the mind, and those in the outside world.

One minute you might be helping someone overcome their deep-seated fear of taking risks, the next you might be infiltrating a high rise building 007-style.

In retrospect, the first Psychonauts was ahead of its time in the way the game tackled issues of mental health, and those themes persist in the sequel.

The game is recommended for children 12 and over (though it’s likely most players will be adults, who played the first game in their childhood), and addresses the topic of mental health in an age-appropriate and sensitive manner.

Pic: Double Fine Productions
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The original game won a raft of awards. Pic: Double Fine Productions

Levels help visualise some serious mental struggles, such as PTSD, addiction, anxiety, and delusions, and shows how trauma can leave a mind splintered.

Despite the severity of these conditions, however, Double Fine Productions’ claim that this is a game about “empathy and healing a feeling” certainly came across during Sky News’ playthrough.

Though it will be playable on all modern platforms, Sky News tested the pre-release version on Xbox’s powerful new Series X console.

Pic: Double Fine Productions
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Developers have stayed true to the Tim Burton-esque animation style. Pic: Double Fine Productions

The developers have stayed true to the Tim-Burton-esque graphical style of the original, which will please die-hard fans, though it may take some getting used to for those who enjoy spectacular, photo-realistic games.

The combat feels similar to the first Psychonauts, and the endless amounts of collectibles to be found, plus a currency system make for satisfying skill progression.

The voice acting is convincing and emotive, sporting the original cast, and the high-profile addition of Jack Black.

Pic: Double Fine Productions
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The sequel is release on 25 August. Pic: Double Fine Productions

Psychonauts 2 will no doubt be a commercial triumph, but it doesn’t coast off the success of the previous iteration.

It reprises and builds on the foundations of 2005, and unlike many sequels, does not take players for granted, promising many hours of gameplay and replayability.

Whether it will live up to the rose-tinted fanfare of the original in the eyes of the life-long fans, however, only time will tell.



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