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You know Tim Schafer. The zany fellow has been responsible for some of the highlights of videogame history, most notably in the adventure genre. Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango all spring readily to mind, and that's precisely the subject of his newest project: the mind.
The Psychonauts, you see, are an organisation that specialise in solving the problems posed by people's brains. But they often attack the trouble at its root - by actually exploring the minds of the disturbed patient, literally.
At least, that's the special skill of new Psychonauts recruit Raz, short for Rasputin, who comes to the international Psy-spy training camp. His arrival coincides with a series of abductions of students at the boot camp for their gifted brains. But is it a huge mutant lungfish from the nearby lake that has developed a taste for grey matter? Or is there something more sinister at work?
Meet a whole host of extraordinary characters and guide Raz through thirteen levels in this 3rd person action adventure. 3 levels take place in the real world, and the rest take place in the darkest recesses of peoples' brains. Beautifully bizarre environments are there to explore, filled with tightropes, trapezes, ladders and other adventure playground style apparatus. Raz's abilities are no less inventive, and he can use thought bubbles as an improvised skateboard, shield or hot air balloon.
Gameplay is a mix of non-linear, long term objectives, and puzzles that cleverly tailor themselves to the ability of the player. There are plenty of sub-plots and other tangents to go off at, and plenty of psychic abilities to learn, like clairvoyance, pyrokinesis, telekinesis and invisibility. Psychonauts is unique, creative, colourful and very humorous. We could use more games like this.