Information for Psychonauts 2 has been a pretty slow drip-feed, which means that the psycho-obsessed (like yours truly) put it upon themselves to comb over every new piece of art that’s released in hopes of piecing together what we can expect in 2021.
Well, good news! The latest behind-the-scenes footage of the Psychonauts 2 trailer not only confirmed that the game is now in the polishing stages, but also gave us plenty of brand new footage and information to glean through. A lot of information was also shown in the first big trailer for it at The Game Awards last year, but it’s become clearer on some of the context surrounding it thanks to this latest update.
Let’s dive into it.
Psychonauts 2 is Coming in 2021
Barring an act of God, it seems like Psychonauts 2 isn’t too far from release now. Tim Schafer has stated that the game is on track for next year and is in the bug-squashing and polishing stages, according to the most recent holiday update video.
In that video, he states that there are some smaller features and cutscenes that aren’t in the game yet, but it can apparently be played from start to finish. I’d hate to try and put some sort of date on it myself, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Psychonauts 2 in the first half of the year, close to the summer.
Ford’s Mind is the Bowling/Barber World
In the first big trailer revealed at Xbox’s E3 conference last year we saw brief glimpses of Raz sliding down a barbershop-colored slide, with no indication as to what world this might be. At the time it was pretty unclear what was ahead, but this latest batch of concept art is a massive hint that this is Ford Cruller’s mind, which is split into different sections.
For the uninitiated, Ford Cruller was a major character in the first game and a mentor to Raz. He was once a Psychonaut himself, but his mind was damaged and now requires him to be near a steady source of Psitanium in order to function properly. This was represented by him having multiple personalities and jobs around the summer camp of the first game.
Ford having his own mental world shouldn’t be a massive surprise to Psychonauts fans, considering how important the character is and the hints at it within that same trailer. The mental connection between bowling and Ford isn’t super clear right now, but if I had to guess, it has something to do with getting a “split” in bowling and the state of Ford’s mind throughout the first and second game. Perhaps taking him away from Psitanium has done more damage than good.
Looking through the concept art shows Ford in both a bowling and barber shop outfits, as well as showing his face on one of the massive bowling pins. The focus on Ford is a pretty dead giveaway here, but the biggest piece of evidence is how one piece of art is labelled “Bowling- Ford” on the bottom.
It’s very exciting to see Ford get his own world in Psychonauts 2 considering how beloved of a character he is, but the implications of why are yet to be seen.
A Better Look at the Psychonaut Interns
One of the big story twists with Psychonauts 2 seems to be that Raz was never actually made a Psychonaut; rather he’s actually an intern for them. This isn’t new information as it was revealed a while ago, but we finally get confirmation on who the group of kids in that E3 trailer are: They’re also interns for the Psychonauts.
This is confirmed in another piece of concept art that lines them up and names them. What each of them have done to become an intern is completely unknown, but they didn’t seem super friendly in that initial trailer. Expect Raz to have to warm them up to him and band together.
My initial takeaway from the inclusion of interns is to have that childlike wonder quality that was present in the camp setting of the first game. That’s a big part of Psychonauts, so it’s good to see some of it here.
There’s also a sweet piece of holiday art featuring them all together, which tells me that they’ll be pretty important in the grand scheme of things.
A World Based on Gambling
Another thing that was shown off in the first E3 trailer was a world based on gambling. We could see Raz fighting amongst poker chips and riding around on a big pinball, but again it was unclear what it was for. In this new holiday update we see a lot more footage of this world, including some skeletons that seem to be NPC’s and a bunch more gameplay of Raz in the world.
I have two theories for this one. The first is that it’s a completely new world that’s entirely based on gambling. That’s an interesting enough concept on its own and could easily fill a whole world.
The other theory is a bit more wild, but I believe this and the mailman section that’s been shown before could also be a part of Ford’s world and be representative of his split mind. There’s a small section of the holiday update that shows Raz walking on a cube, with one of the sides being labelled “high roller." My thinking here is that each side is a vault of Ford’s and shows one of his personalities, including the barber, bowling, mailman, and gambling side of him.
A Previously Mentioned Cooking Minigame is Here
I’ve got no idea what the context behind this world is, but Double Fine have previously talked about this cooking mini-game in this video, and it seems to be making its way to Psychonauts 2 as its own level.
There are two short clips of it in the holiday update, and it seems like the objective is to find ingredients and cook them in different ways. It was previously shown as a game-jam-esque project, but it was mentioned to be coming to the game in some form.
Along with the gambling world and cooking world, there are teases for a few other locations, including a natural looking garden area, a water-focused level and a world where Raz is rowing a boat between islands. I’ve combed through the trailer a bunch, but I can’t connect them to anything we’ve seen so far, besides the water one likely being linked to the Aquato curse.
More of the Aquato Family
The Aquato family is going to have a much bigger role in Psychonauts 2 than they did in the original, and there are a few hints towards that in this trailer.
By far the most interesting snippet comes from a scene with Raz in his acrobatic uniform from his circus days. Whether this is a flashback or a look into his or another family member’s mind isn’t clear from how brief the clip is, but it’s cool to see nonetheless. It could even just be teasing unlockable costumes.
There are also a few more clips of the family appearing within the game, although that’s something that we’ve been seeing since the game’s first playable gameplay reveal.
New Gameplay Confirmations
Along with all of the world and story implications, there are a bunch of little gameplay reveals that tell us a little bit more about how Psychonauts 2 will play.
For starters, and arguably most importantly, there’s finally a figment counter! This appears in the top right corner of the screen alongside a new currency, but for anyone who’s tried to collect them all in the original, you’ll know this was sorely needed.
Tim Schafer also confirmed that, unlike the first game, Psychonauts 2 will feature a proper end-game state. That means that you won’t have to save before the final world and be stuck in the dark; there will now be a separate sort of epilogue mode that lets you revisit worlds properly.
With all of these reveals being stuffed into a developer update, it seems very likely that we’ll be hearing about Psychonauts 2 a lot more in the new year. Here’s hoping we finally get that long-awaited release date.