Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin Review
The original Psychonauts released in 2005, and its zany art-style, on top of what seemed like a ridiculous story, didn’t catch my interest at the time. With the announcement of Psychonauts 2, I still had no plans to jump into Double Fine’s cult-hit franchise. It is surprising then that Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, a virtual reality game, was the bait that has now hooked me to anything Psychonauts in the future.
The world that Tim Schafer and the developers at Double Fine have created took me by surprise in its humor, depth, and character. The puzzle-filled adventure gameplay afforded in PSVR is fine-tuned to fit the mystery solving plot. In the Rhombus of Ruin is a refreshing change of pace in these early days of PSVR, and a must-buy for anyone who wants to experience a great story told in virtual reality.
The game’s world-building was the first thing to take me by surprise. Don’t let the insane and wacky character designs fool you, the world of Psychonauts and its flavored characters combine to tell a great story. The cast and variety of locales makes this a great starting point for those who haven’t played the original Psychonauts, and it left me wanting more. The game continues the tradition of superb VR game openings with its James Bond style introduction that gets you right in the mood to solve some mysteries.
“There’s a harmony when you’re involved in the events of the game while mechanically exploring the environments in which the plot and dialogue give context to.”
Interacting with the world is incredibly intuitive, with character swapping and item manipulation done with the press of a button. Razputin has the ability to set items on fire, swap bodies, use telekinesis, and the like to solve puzzles by interacting with the environment through a simple head motion in VR, as objects then get highlighted. There’s a real sense of understanding between the plot of the game and its mechanics.
Without getting into spoilers, the objectives of Psychonauts in its puzzle-solving are in complete tandem with the happenings of the plot at any given moment. The game’s direction is holistic and unified in this manner, and the world of Psychonauts might actually work better as a VR title than a platformer. There’s a harmony when you’re involved in the events of the game while mechanically exploring the environments in which the plot and dialogue give context to.
The dialogue and various antics of the characters had me laughing throughout the adventure. I can only compare it to the attachment I had with Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us, and how quickly I fell in love with the world and the characters. Psychonauts might have made me fall in love even quicker, with the mystery-laden plot pushing me forward. One of the best aspects is its ability to constantly keep the player engaged via dialogue. Razputin will go on and on about the history of environments and the mystery of the Rhombus of Ruin. It makes the adventure feel like an active experience and fleshes out the world at the same time.
The environments along with the quirky character designs gives Psychonauts its signature style. Graphically even, there are a few scenes that use lighting in interesting ways and almost made me forget I was playing a PSVR game, with the technical limitations that it comes with. At times though, it gets a bit ridiculous even for Tim Schafer’s crazy mind as some scenes killed the immersion with some inexplicable decisions. One moment in particular in the second half just had me shaking my head.
“In the Rhombus of Ruin is a masterclass of engaging mechanics and brilliant writing, and it’s got me excited for the future of Psychonauts.”
Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin is a must-play for PSVR owners. Its ability to keep the player interested in its world and characters is second to none, and the ease of its gameplay mechanics makes interacting with the world a joy. The plethora of environments and odd characters you come across, and the subsequent world-building that takes place, keeps the game from ever getting stale alongside its short runtime. In the Rhombus of Ruin is a masterclass of engaging mechanics and brilliant writing, and it’s got me excited for the future of Psychonauts.
***A PSVR code was provided by the publisher***
- Super cast and story
- Variety of environments
- Ease of gameplay mechanics
- The world can be a little too weird