Psychonauts Review

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Whenever I start playing a game that was born in the mind of Tim Schaffer, I say to myself “welcome into the world of crazies.” I’ve always said that whenever a game is hard to describe, the developers have done at least something right. Well, Psychonauts is as hard to describe as it gets and no matter how late it arrived on Linux, is still a good thing that it’s here.

As I said, Psychonauts was developed by Tim Schafer and his team from the Double Fine Productions studio. Believe or not, it was first released back in 2005 and, in case you missed it, this is year 2012, which means that seven years have passed since then.

If someone would have asked me what games could be included in the Humble Bundle V, Psychonauts was no even on my list. It was a complete surprise, and I believe it was one of the reasons why this bundle registered record sales.


Of all the games that were made available through Indie Bundles over time, I think Psychonauts is probably the bigger of them all. It has a little over 4GB in size and it will take a good amount of time to download, depending on the network connection.

The developers provide just one .bin file that comes with all the necessary dependencies. It's a graphical installer, so just open a terminal, and enter the following commands:

chmod a+x psychonauts-linux-06042012-bin


Story and Gameplay

You play the role of Razputin or simply Raz, a small boy that sneaks into the Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp for children with special mental powers. The camp is in fact a secret training facility that wants to create super psychic agents called Psychonauts.

Raz comes from a family of circus people. He ran and hoped to get admitted into the program, after reading a pamphlet for a secret training facility, which should not exist.

In any case, he manges to get under Coach Oleander's skin, the director of the camp, especially because he seemed to manifest great latent psychic powers. He starts basic training, without the approval of his parents and from here the adventure begins. The camp holds a dark secret and it will be up to Razputin to find what is really going on.

The game is basically a simple platformer. The character can perform some simple tasks like running, jumping, double-jumping, and a physic melee attack. Later, the main character will learn a lot more powers, such as levitation, pyrokinesis, invisibility, and so on. Each power will help the main character in various puzzles.

Raz can upgrade his powers in a couple of ways, learning from other personas in the camp and by upgrading his Psi Ranking. The game's currency consists of arrowheads and they can be found all over the world. They can be spent at the camp store to further increase the power of Raz.

Most levels consist of someone's mind. Exploring minds is a big part part of the game and in Psychonauts you will get to see a lot of twisted and weird universes that make up a brain.

The player will have to defeat the fears and traps of the mind he enters and usually he is confronted with an end level boss, which is the manifested force of his greatest fear.

What's interesting about the game is the fact that the gameplay is not even all that important. Psychonauts is a story driven title and the dialogues are practically the sole reason to play it.

The Bad

I've played the game on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, with a GeForce 8800 GT graphic card and 302.17 drivers. I fiddled with all the options, but I constantly got some weird artifacts, especially because of the lighting and shadows. I'm not sure if this is a general problem or it's just me, but I have to mention it here.

The controls are also a little bit iffy, for lack of a better term. The vertical axis starts reversed for some reason and it's at a different speed then the horizontal axis.

The Good

As I said, Psychonauts is all about the dialogues, and there are very few games than can come close in terms of acting and humor. Everything is amazingly funny and you find yourself talking with everyone just to see what are they going to say.

This particular quality makes the seven years between the initial launch and the port to the Linux platform to become almost irrelevant. The poor graphical quality can be ignored when confronted with the amazing storytelling capacity of Tim Schafer and the Double Fine Studio.


Psychonauts remained in the public's conscience as the game that could have been the one. It was amazingly well received by reviewers, but had lousy sales. Nonetheless, it remains a game that needs to be played, so users must know what to look for in future adventures.
user interface 5
features 5
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5

final rating 5
Editor's review
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