Title: Psychonauts
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Majesco
Year: 2005

Description: Psychonauts is veteran designer Tim Schafer's first game since he left LucasArts. Gameplay-wise, it's a pretty standard run/jump/shoot 3D platformer - but the gameplay is merely a hook for some excellent level design and Schafer's bizarre sense of humor.

In the world of Psychonauts, psychics exist. They can levitate, start fires, use telekinesis, teleport, and shoot psi blasts. They can dive into the minds of others to help them with psychological problems. And they run summer camps for young psychics-in-training. A young psychic named Razputin runs away from his life at the circus to attend this camp, learn more psychic powers and become a Psychonaut.

But something is up...kids start emerging from the lake brainless, capable only of muttering "TV..." over and over. The camp counselors are called away on sudden Psychonauts business, leaving it up to Raz (and the player) to figure out exactly what is going on.

Notables: This game is notable for some inventive level design. Since most levels take place inside the minds of people Raz encounters, each level looks and plays differently. One level is set in a 1950's era neighborhood and requires Raz to collect and use a lot of items correctly (a throwback to Schafer's adventure gaming days). Another is set in a single room containing a large boardgame - in order to complete the level Raz must shrink down to the size of the pieces on the board and maneuver them to help a poor deluded psychiatric patient beat the genetic memory of his ancestor, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Schafer's trademark humor remains intact, and fortunately, quality voice acting supports his writing, making the game laugh-out-loud funny in places.

My Opinion: A bit short, but very entertaining. Schafer has made the jump from adventure game design to platformer very well, blending the two styles into something that doesn't feel completely like either. And the game begs for a sequel.

Notes: The game was originally released for the Microsoft Xbox and PC platforms, with a PlayStation 2 port arriving in June 2005.

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