A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Psychonauts 2 is a downloadable action/adventure game for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PCs. This chapter in the Psychonauts franchise takes place directly after the events of the first game and the VR title. Players take on the role of Raz, a young Psychonaut, as he returns to his organization's base after a mission, only to discover that there are new threats facing him and the world. On missions, Raz will face off against personifications of negative emotions and psychological issues by using punches as well as psychic abilities to eliminate them in battle. While you can set them on fire, and some enemies cry out in pain, no blood or gore are shown, and opponents disappear when defeated. There's mildly suggestive innuendo in dialogue, as well as some potty humor. The word "ass" can be heard in dialogue, and there are scenes that refer to alcohol, while other characters can be seen smoking or holding cigarettes. On the positive side, the game shows a wide and diverse range of characters of all ages, genders, and body shapes, all of whom are skilled and capable in their own ways.
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What's it about?
PSYCHONAUTS 2 is a direct follow-up to the first two games in the series and immediately takes place after the events of those games. Players take on the role of Raz, a young acrobat who's run away from the circus to pursue his dream of becoming an international psychic spy, or Psychonaut. As the latest agent (in training), Raz has already proven himself in saving a psychic summer camp and rescued the head of the Psychonauts from being kidnapped. But it appears that he and his fellow agents are facing their toughest assignment yet. Not only have they discovered that there's a mole in their headquarters, threatening their security, but they've also learned that schemes are in place to bring a dangerous psychic threat to life that could destroy the world. Players will roam through a series of stages in the minds of friends and enemies looking for clues to prevent this disaster. Over the course of the adventure, Raz will unlock new psychic abilities, gain additional gear like pins to boost these skills, and find a ton of collectibles to strengthen his stats in taking on the mental threats that attempt to block his progress. Will Raz be able to uncover the mole and stop the latest threat before it's too late?
Is it any good?
This action/adventure title deftly balances exploring mental issues and concerns with humor and clever play to make a remarkable experience that's hard to forget. While Psychonauts 2 builds on the plots of the previous games in the series, you don't need to have played those two titles to enjoy this tale. In fact, a recap video sums up the events of those games while laying the groundwork for this adventure, which tosses you almost immediately into the action. Without spoiling any story points, this is an engaging tale of revenge, deception, redemption, acceptance, and healing, with Raz's life and everything he's known getting turned upside down on a regular basis. Given the unfair circumstances Raz faces (along with some merciless teasing from family and fellow young Psychonauts), he should become bitter or unhappy, taking things out on something. But he's an incredibly good kid who only wants to help people, and you can't help but cheer for him throughout the entire story. Gameplay is incredibly engaging, and plenty of tips are given to Raz by his fellow Psychonauts on using his powers, exploring environments, and defeating enemies when they first appear. This lets you focus on the story as well as fending off attacks from all sides and collecting tons of collectibles, such as ore that can be spent for upgrades, finding and tagging mental baggage, or grabbing figments of imagination. In fact, there's a ton of collectibles, side missions, and quests -- so many that you probably won't be able to complete everything on the first playthrough.
What's also impressive about Psychonauts 2 is how it manages to handle and treat mental issues in a sensitive way while still keeping the game's off-the-wall humor. Much of the game is tongue in cheek with its jokes and comments, but the personification of emotions -- like regrets that try to drop weights on you to hold you down, or censors that try to block thoughts (or Psychonauts) that don't belong in a mind -- is very clever. It allows players to fight against negative ideas, defeating them while accomplishing goals, while also exploring more serious issues like addiction, anxieties, and delusions. If you're struggling with these conditions, some scenes could possibly be distressing, but on the plus side, this could prompt discussion for some kids and older gamers, possibly leading to them wanting help for these issues. At least Psychonauts 2 suggests a mental health resource for any players who may feel affected, and hopefully parents and gamers alike will take advantage of this if any problems arise. Overall, Psychonauts 2 is an excellent and very thoughtful tale -- but hopefully it doesn't take another 16 years for another game in the franchise.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about mental health. Psychonauts 2 adresses a number of mental health concepts, including turning negative emotions into enemies that can be faced and defeated. Is this the best way to address these concepts? Should negative emotions be destroyed, or is it better to figure out a way to acknowledge and understand why someone would have these feelings in the first place?
Should adults listen and learn from kids, or should they just focus on teaching what they've learned to younger generations?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Xbox Game Studios
- Release date: August 25, 2021
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs
- ESRB rating: T for Fantasy Violence, Crude Humor, Use of Tobacco, Alcohol Reference, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: August 30, 2021
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