|Genre: Adventure & RPG|
|Min OS X: 10.6|
Mac OS X: 10.6.8 | CPU: Intel Core Duo Processor | RAM: 2 GB | HD Space: 4 GB Graphics: ATI X1600 / NVIDIA 8600GT / Intel HD3000 or better card with at least 128 MB VRAM
There haven't been many games that focus on the mind. Some have tinkered with "mind powers" or given cutscenes where mind control and/or psychotic events occur, but few have ever truly created a world entirely out of a character's mind. There are some notable exceptions like Alice, but on the whole it's a pretty empty category. In addition, almost none of them have managed to put you in the mind of a psycho and leave you feeling sorry for them at the end.
Double Fine's Psychonauts does that multiple times. It's essentially a platformer, collecting game, and puzzle where your arenas are the insides of various minds throughout the world. The worlds range from the internal wartime simulation of a veteran to a milkman's utterly insane and jumbled psyche, and none of them are boring. You'll find yourself stomping tanks and terrorizing natives as a giant version of yourself in one section, and dodging special mind agents in another. From one end to the other, the varying worlds and new challenges almost always seem fresh.
Not to mention, if you're OCD about collectibles, this game will have you stuck for days. There are figments hidden everywhere, collectible cards for rank upgrades, arrowheads that you dig up across the real world, luggage pieces that need to be matched to the correct tags, and locked memories you need to chase down and smash open. There's a lot of stuff to miss, and if you want to collect it all you'll be playing for a loooong time. It doesn't help that certain collectibles can't even be collected until you buy a certain item, thus forcing you to replay previous levels to obtain the final collection.
All of this does have a purpose outside of completion, though. Everything but the arrowheads contributes towards raising your psi rank. At certain ranks along the way, you get new abilities and upgrades to old ones, like splitting your main ranged attack to hit multiple enemies at once. Pretty much all the upgrades are useful, so there's a big incentive to collect even if you aren't a gung-ho completionist. Still, none but the most dedicated will ever see the bonus movie at rank 100+ without going to Youtube. It's almost impossible to achieve without a guide, and even with a guide it'll take you forever.
But hey, if you don't care about that, the main game is plenty challenging and entertaining as you move forward. The boss fights take a bit of thought, albeit not much, the stages generally bring in enough new elements to keep things fresh, and there's a real sense of accomplishment after you trigger the next cutscene and watch the world's wacky characters interact for your amusement. Almost all dialogue and scenes are skippable by pressing the skip key, so there's no need to have any breaks in the action if you don't want them.
You'll be missing out if you do, however, as Psychonauts is very very quirky, but in a good way. The characters emote quite well, the voice acting is some of the best in any game you'll play, and there are loads of jokes to get you chuckling in the weirdest circumstances. A good example of that would be one of your fellow campers that you meet early. He's convinced the squirrels are plotting against him, and starts the game facing off against three of them. If you turn your back for a second, there's a frying sound and when you look again the squirrels are gone. Oh, and the kid apparently wants to kill everyone.
So, what do you want from a computer game? If you want to enjoy unusual environments, bounce around collecting figments of someone's imagination, and discover who is turning your fellow campmates into brainless morons, this is the game for you. If you want a sci-fi epic or role-playing experience, this may be a bit further from your tastes. Still, you should give it a try, as Psychonauts is an excellent platformer and one of the best games released during its year. It's just a shame it didn't arrive on the Mac sooner.
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