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Moby ID: 17451
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Description official descriptions

At a summer camp for up-and-coming psychics, a young boy with an unusually high level of psychic ability inexplicably shows up. The boy, named Raz, is allowed to stay at the camp until his father comes to pick him up, but his arrival coincides with very strange circumstances. Soon, evidence that someone is psychically tampering with the campers' minds reveals itself, and Raz is the only one who can stop it. Raz must project himself into the psyches of several different people in order to figure out what is going on and who is behind the recent occurrences.

Psychonauts is a 3D platform game with a rather unorthodox style. The characters' inner worlds are the game's levels. Each world reflects the personality of the person whose psyche it represents, often resulting in unique, surreal creations, and influencing the gameplay style. For example, the psyche of a giant lungfish is presented as a large city populated by fish people, in which Raz himself becomes a giant monster who can destroy entire buildings; the psyche of a mental patient is a huge board game, where Raz has to command armies in order to defeat Napoleon, etc.

There are also many gameplay elements and tasks which are common for all the levels. These include Raz fighting the (not very numerous) regular enemies, defeating level bosses, collecting currency, "figments of imagination" needed to upgrade his powers, and bonus items such as complete sets of the character's memories and others. Many of the game's puzzles require the usage of psychic powers, which Raz obtains in a more or less strict order. These powers range from combat abilities such as Psy Shield to Telekinesis (moving objects without touching them) and Clairvoyance (reading other people's minds).

The camp itself serves as the game's "hub", in which the player can explore, interact with characters, search for secret areas and items, and so on.


  • 意识世界 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

257 People (150 developers, 107 thanks) · View all

Creative Director
Lead Programmer
Art Director
Lead Designer
Animation Supervisors
Lead Gameplay Programmer
Executive Producer
Lead PC Programmer
Senior Graphics Architect
[ full credits ]



Average score: 86% (based on 55 ratings)


Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 234 ratings with 8 reviews)

An adventure about psychology from a brilliant brain.

The Good
Definitely the best thing about Psychonauts is that it looks at psychology and the many aspects that belong to it, then imagines a way to visualize it with a sense of humor, how to give it context within the story, how it could be used as a gameplay mechanics and then also add a reward system for it. Because of this all the little side-objectives you can do in the game, as well as the way many of the mental disorders are portrayed, work very well and are genuinely entertaining to interact with.

The game is also very good at immersing you in it's own little world because everything you see and do fits the theme perfectly. As I played through the game I could clearly feel that Tim Schäfer was calling the shots because only he can manage to pull off immersion this well.

The characters are simply amazing, not a single one of them is generic or "just an NPC". Every character has a name, a personality, a background and something that makes them utterly and completely unique. Even the characters that get less lines than protagonist of the first Saint's Row game have secrets to discover. I also liked it how you don't just run into a profile of a character like in Alpha Protocol, but had to befriend them and hear them out to slowly figure out who they were (or even eavesdrop on them). There are some real surprises too!

The overall humor of the game is rather lighthearted, but just like with the immersion of the world it has that specific style that you can only trace back to good old Tim. Honestly, I owe the world an apology for claiming he is overrated in my Brütal Legend review because he is just a good game designer (that game was just a misstep). The humor is timeless and clever, if you're the kind of person who likes pop-culture references and memes that only exist for like a month before disappearing than Psychonauts might shock you and put a proper sense of humor in your skull.

The way the levels works is pretty original and can only be compared with the paintings from Super Mario 64. The idea is that all the levels are based on the minds of the people around you and you have to enter them in order to fix whatever is wrong and obtain the items or services the characters have, but refuse to give. My favorite level is definitely the Battle for Waterloo, where a descendant of Napoleon has to win a board game from his ancestor for reasons I won't spoil.

Because you see so many different worlds Psychonauts is naturally rich with variety and that is a good way to keep one interested enough to keep playing it. Another good thing about the levels is that you get some very interesting colors thrown at you. From a rather standard level that switched between overly cheerful and very dark and grim, I went to a very beautiful level based on a certain genre of paintings which focused a lot on purple and dark blue. That level, despite been the most boring from a gameplay perspective was probably the most beautiful level I have ever seen in a game.

Just like in Ocarina of Time you are able to contact help to provide information on enemies and how to kill them. I really liked this because uninspired wailing can only be fun for so long while constantly having to adapt to different enemies with different weak-spots is much more enjoyable and challenging. The combat is not fantastic and it's hardly the most challenging game out there, but this at least made smaller fights interesting enough to bother with (whereas I would skip over all the fights in Brütal Legend).

The controls are overall very nice and tidy. Platforming with Raz is made functional enough to be entertaining rather than frustrating, there are several ways to get from A to B faster than walking and switching between different psychic powers and items is made easy enough to prevent been annoying.

The Bad
The biggest problem is that the Steam version of this game never seems to bloody work. The first time I played the game it was fine, but the second time (when I wrote my original review) the game would constantly crash for no apparent reason. Now that I have tried it a third time I got through the entire game, but the sound was downright horrible. The music was okay, but when characters talk it would often skip or repeat a word or just glitch out entirely. It was so annoying that I just read the subtitles before the characters could even start and then hit a button to skip through the dialogue.

There is one part in the game where you will suddenly need the Cobweb cleaner which up to that point was a mandatory item. I didn't buy any other items, but still I was short 400 arrowheads (currency) for the damn thing, so I had to go out of my way to grind myself silly for three hours. I really think this item could have been better implemented if they were going to make it mandatory for the later stages anyway.

The last level of the game is downright horrendous and totally unnecessary from a story, gameplay and graphical viewpoint. Without trying to spoil anything: You pretty much have to sit through one more level after a pretty climactic boss-fight, but this stage is so poorly designed and makes such a lot of use of fixed camera angles that I just call it void and stop. The villain is beaten, everything is back the way it should be and we have seen everything the game had to offer, so don't put out just another level for the sake of having it. I also hate how we already visited this place, so the design is not special anymore and how it doesn't use any tricks or challenges we haven't done before.

The entire story happens over the span of a single day, which doesn't make much sense to me. The second you start playing Raz has just arrived in the camp, yet he knows pretty much everything there is to know regarding basic information of the people around him (names, activities and so forth). Raz also goes from a complete newcomer to the greatest hero that has ever lived in just this one day and overall it just leaves me with the impression that even the developers noticed this was rather tight for the adventure they had intended. Which leaves the question: Why didn't you change this completely trivial matter? I also like how the teachers clearly state that Raz may not attend to camp activities, yet is order specifically to come to basic training at the beginning of the adventure.

The design of the characters doesn't really rub me up the right way and I doubt it will for anybody. When I first played the game's demo it took several weeks and a sale to finally get me to buy it just because of this fact. The characters don't really look very Human nor stylized enough to be cute and forgiven for this fact. Some characters have huge eyes, some faces are completely malformed and some characters look like they came from that old show: "Doug Funny" or whatever it was called.

The Bottom Line
Psychonauts is definitely one of the better platforming games that came out after the Nintendo 64 era. The humor is clever, the gameplay is entertaining, the story is interesting and the design of the levels is simply beautiful. Get this game on any system other than PC and you can already scratch away my biggest complaint, but even then it doesn't matter that much because the game is overall very good.

I will say that Psychonauts is not as good as the old Nintendo 64 games, but it's still quite a nice game. If you are one of those people who believe games are art (like me), you are obligated to play this at least once. Younger people and people in their 30's will probably have fun with this as well, but the average shooter fan will probably get annoyed by the heavy-story and difficulty curve.

Windows · by Asinine (957) · 2012

Into the head of Tim Schafer

The Good
Many of today's games are entertainment projects which don't fall short of movie productions, especially in terms of the artistic effort put into their visuals. Few games, however, are as convincing with their setting, characters and plot as Tim Schafer's Psychonauts.

This immersion is achieved on more than one level. Schafer creates a familiar little childhood world in which players feel at home - a summer camp. The twist: it's a summer camp for psychically gifted children. Our curiosity is piqued! Enter the hero, Razputin, a slightly kooky, yet immensely likeable and adventurous kid with the grand dream of mastering this little world and claim its reward: employment as a psychic government agent.

The test Raz has to overcome takes on greater proportions when the "usual" training he is supposed to undergo gets disrupted by a villain bent on harnessing the camper's psychic energies for his own purpose. During his journey, Raz studies with many mentors and enhances his mental powers. The learning curve and enhanced abilities that must be unlocked wake fond memories of prime genre representatives like Legend of Zelda in which players get an increasing feeling of skill and mastery of the surrounding world.

In terms of gameplay, Psychonauts translates into mental worlds which Razputin has to visit. Once there, he has to use his skills to solve the problems inside people's heads, helping them to overcome their personal demons and advance the story. Among the game's highlights are visits into a paranoid milkman's mind or the battle with an actress' inner critic in a world resembling a giant stage. While the premise gets weirder and weirder, it remains perfectly comprehensible because players are introduced to everything one step at a time. Like Raz, they only have a vague idea of what awaits them and are led deeper into the world of Psychonauts through exploration, an integral part of this action-adventure.

The game's graphics are the kind of bent-out-of-shape cartoon designs one would expect from Tim Burton, only less bleak. Bordering on the abstract sometimes, they can be a little hard to get into but radiate an appeal that's entirely their own. The presentation is topped off by a superb voice-over. Not a single character is miscast and no small part of the fun is exploring the "real" world tying together the mental ones and talking to many memorable characters and find out about them. No character in Psychonauts is two-dimensional and it speaks for the game's appeal that running around and talking to people is something players will want to do, even though it's not necessary to beat the game.

The Bad
While one of the most original games around as far as presentation and story are concerned, Psychonauts doesn't offer much in terms of gameplay that can't be found (and often better) in other action-adventures. The game isn't a cookie-cutter jump 'n' run, yet it's a far cry from brilliant gems like the aforementioned Legend of Zelda which offer better level design and a combination of action and puzzles elements.

Also, while Psychonauts is brilliantly written, it shows that Tim Schafer used to create equally brilliant adventure games for LucasArts. A slight disadvantage in this case as most of Psychonauts' main problems play out like classic adventure puzzles, but are far easier to beat because the solutions are action-based rather than brainteasers.

The Bottom Line
Psychonauts is a game players will play primarily for its story and characters. Giving a story-based approach the fair chance it deserves, it's easy to lose oneself in Tim Schafer's delightfully weird world populated by an incredibly strong cast. However, people who are looking for an experience in gameplay first and foremost may be turned off by this as the game's strength lies in its funny and intelligent plot.

Windows · by Kit Simmons (249) · 2008

A not-so great port of a great game. Still enjoyable and worth buying, though.

The Good
Tim Schafer. One of my gaming industry heroes, and the famous creator/co-creator of games like Day of The Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango. When Psychonauts was released, discerning gamers everywhere proclaimed it a masterpiece.

Well, it is. This is a wildly imaginative, hugely varied, very entertaining romp disguised as a platformer. You play Raz, a boy with psychic powers who sneaks into a "psychic summer camp". You get merit badges throughout the game which give you special psychic powers like Telekinesis, Levitation, etc. I won't give away anymore, but the areas in the game are essentially the minds of very quirky individuals, and the developers play this concept to the hilt. I think that this is the only game I've played where every area requires a different type of gameplay. Unlike most games that introduce some core gameplay principles at the beginning and then just crank up the difficulty as you go along, Psychonaut's levels are all very unique, and very well done, despite the variety. You might be playing a wargame by recruiting and moving pieces on a giant board, or you might be rolling and floating Sonic-style inside a disco inferno. It has to be played to be believed.

There's also tons of stuff to do if you like collect-a-thons, and believe me, if you want to collect everything, you'd better have some skills and patience.

The Bad
Well, most all of the bad aspects come from the way this game was ported to the PS2. For one, framerate issues. Some people might find it less obnoxious than I do, but the framerate in the PS2 version tends to fluctuate wildly. The game is still highly playable, but really there's no excuse for this kind of thing in a professional product.

Loading times in the PS2 version are also sub-par. This is not unusual for these kinds of ports, but it's still annoying.

Also, the way the game handles save files is not PS2 optimized. You have to create a 1500KB profile save file that contains 5 save slots. The problem is, you can only use these save slots for the game you're in. If you start a new game, you have to create another massive 5-slot profile. The problem with this is that you never need more than 1 slot, as the game is mostly linear, and does autosaves anyway. Which means that if you live in a three-gamer household like me, there will have to be three massive save files on your memory card, and all each person will ever use will be 1/5 of their save slots. Given that games like Ratchet and Clank can support up to six totally separate game files in a 350KB file, this limitation is a bit silly, and feels like the the porters just used the PC-style save system with no modification.

To be fair to the original developers, an external porting house did the conversion, but this is still the least desirable version of this great game.

The Bottom Line
Psychonauts is truly a great game, and every serious gamer should definitely play it. But unfortunately, for the best experience, you should certainly go with the XBOX or PC versions.

PlayStation 2 · by phanboy_iv (84) · 2008

[ View all 8 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!! Parf (7719) May 31st, 2012
Just Finished it (sort of) Joe Price Apr 29th, 2009
Windows or XBox? Matt Neuteboom (975) Mar 4th, 2009
I hope the guy who made the final level gets fired Unicorn Lynx (180476) Aug 7th, 2008
Does the last level drag the game down a little? Atomic Punch! (186) Nov 5th, 2007


1001 Video Games

Psychonauts appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Bobby Zilch

The annoying bully-type character in the game, Bobby Zilch, is based on the camp bully from Schafer's real life experiences, who was also named Bobby.


The dialogue of the paranoid security guard Boyd is partially based on a mentally ill person which used to swipe Double Fine's doorstep once a week and talk with Tim Schafer about his conspiracy theories.


Several characters' last names mean "no", "none" or "nothing", including Bobby Zilch and Sasha Nein.


One idea Tim Schafer had for the game's protagonist was a mentally unbalanced (with multiple personalities) ostrich. However, this idea was dropped as Schafer is a strong believer in games being a form of wish-fulfillment, and he came to the conclusion that not many gamers would dream of being insane ostriches. One wonders if there would have been a personality-changing game mechanic consisting of the ostrich sticking its head in the ground and pulling it out again with a different persona.


Not only is Raz played by Invader Zim voice acting talent Richard Steven Horvitz (who was born in 1966); if you work hard, you may be able to unlock a Primal Memories journal entry with concept art showing Raz to be simply a non-green Zim with goggles!

The original main character was going to be named D'Artagan, but was cut. He is referenced twice though; in the beginning cutscene, when Coach Oleander is trying to guess Raz's name, he says, "Starts with a D!" Also, the original D'Artagan model can be seen poking out of the outhouse in the ending cutscene.

The name comes from Razmig Mavlian, an animator at LucasArts who later joined the Psychonauts team. It could also be a reference to Grigori Rasputin (died in 1916), the famous Russian "court mystic", who was considered by many a religious charlatan. Raz's special psychic powers is a reference to Rasputin's alleged mystic healing powers.


  • In the campfire area there is a tree with a crashed van and three tombstones under it. Some say this is a Day of the Tentacle reference, as the truck looks similar to the one used by three characters in the game. It is also a double entendre stating Schafer's opinion of LucasArts' commitment to adventure games - dead.

  • After getting the canoe from Cruller, you can ask him "Admiral Cruller? That canoe...are you...in love with it?" This is a reference to Sal in Grim Fandango asking if Manny was in love with Meche.

  • When you need a Marksmanship learner's permit and don't have it yet, you can tell Sasha "I left it in my other pants." Guybrush says something similar in Monkey Island 2.

  • The obligatory Star Wars reference: When Clem and Crystal are standing on the roof of the lodge, you can overhear their conversation which includes, "We're going to be so powerful, aren't we?" and a reply of "More powerful than you can possibly imagine."

  • The Russian immigrant Mikhail Bulgakov is named after the Soviet/Russian writer, author of the popular novel The Master and Margarita

  • The character of Edgar Teglee is based on the real artist Edgar Leeteg who popularised the Black Velvet style of painting of that level's art style. Leeteg initially worked as a billboard painter and sign writer in California before losing his job due to the depression. Later he went on to achieve infamy for his cheesy art style.

  • The four painting dogs in the same level are the dogs from the famous Dog's Playing Poker painting, actually called "A Bold Bluff" by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge.

Release delay

The PC version was inexplicably delayed to April 27th, even after the announcement that both the Xbox and PC were shipping on their original release date. This is likely due to manufacturing complications.

Xbox exclusivity

The game was originally supposed to be an Xbox-exclusive title. Microsoft dropped the publishing contract in 2004, at which point it was picked up by Majesco, who requested PC and PS2 ports.


  • 4Players
    • 2006 – Best Xbox Game of the Year
  • BAFTA Video Game Awards
    • October 10th 2006 - Best Screenplay
  • Computer Games
    • March 2006 - #10 Game of the Year 2005
  • GameSpy
    • 2005 – #7 Xbox Game of the Year
    • 2005 – Xbox Platformer of the Year
    • 2005 – Special Achievement in Art Direction (PC)
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 22/2008 - names as having one of the "10 Coolest Levels" for the Milkman Conspiracy. (It manages to connect parody with playing elements and the three-dimensionally twisted environment unifies theme and style.)
  • PC Powerplay (Germany)
    • Issue 02/2006 - #3 Action Game in 2005

Information also contributed by Depeche Mike, Kabushi, Mark Ennis, PCGamer77, Pixelspeech, Rupert Breheny, Tomer Gabel and Pentatonic Duck

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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Zack Green.

Linux added by Hamish Wilson. Xbox One added by Plok. PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox Cloud Gaming added by Sciere. PlayStation 2, Macintosh added by Kabushi. Xbox 360 added by Parf. Windows Apps added by Koterminus.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Apogee IV, Sciere, LeChimp, St. Martyne, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.

Game added April 21st, 2005. Last modified October 16th, 2023.