Psychonauts was somewhat of a cult hit that, while not the most amazing sales success of all time, still managed to earn a surprising fanbase. When you consider the circuitous path that game took to release, having only barely come out after being dumped by Microsoft, it is shocking that it even came out at all. Now that Microsoft has revealed that they have acquired developer DoubleFine, 15 years after the release of the first game, Tim Schafer sat down with us to show off the first level from the new game.
In the demo we saw, the developers showed off the first level of the game, which takes place years after the original Psychonauts. Rasputin is now working for the Psychonauts organization and the cold open is meant to be a bit misleading, showing Ras as an unsatisfied office worker mired in bureaucracy. It is quickly revealed that this office is itself a manufactured dream world, designed to extract information from Rhombus of Ruin's villain Dr. Loboto.
The Psychonauts crew convinces Loboto to get a vacation request signed off by his boss so that Ras can tail him and discover the boss' name and figure out who is pulling the strings. It isn't long until Loboto figures out something is amiss and begins transforming the dull office building's world into a nightmare of dental horrors. Zippers are teeth, platforms are teeth, doors are teeth, and everything makes the appropriately gross and cringe-worthy sounds.
"We might have gone too far on some of that," Schafer confesses during the demo.
Ras continues to tail Loboto as censors and other enemies stand in his way and Rasputin slowly gets more of his powers come back. Ras can punch using his mental powers, toss items around, set things on fire, and more. By the end of the level, your skillset seems to actually look like Ras felt at the end of Psychonauts and aged a few years. You do not miss a beat between the two.
Eventually, Ras finds himself in Loboto's tower, where the doctor is mumbling to himself about his secret. Someone threatened the minor villain so deeply that his fear won't even allow him to think of divulging his boss' name. As Rasputin tries to pry a little harder, he finds himself face-to-face with a nightmare of a creature, a giant woman made of pitch-black darkness. She grasps Rasputin in her hand and the demo abruptly ends.
While we did not get hands-on time with Psychonauts 2, from what we could tell, it looks like the exact game Psychonauts fans want. It contains some more modern gameplay pacing and contemporary graphics, but it's still the same soul and personality at the center of it.
Microsoft announced at their conference today that, as part of their acquisition of DoubleFine, they purchased the publishing rights to Psychonauts 2 from the currently-imploding Starbreeze. It will still release on all the announced platforms, so PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.