2020 is almost here, so we’ve asked GameSpot’s staff to share which games they’re looking forward to most in the new year. New consoles are going to dominate the headlines, but at the end of the day it’s all about the games, and there are a ton of exciting ones to look forward to. When you’re done reading this entry, follow along with all of our other end-of-the-year coverage collected in our Best of 2019 hub and our Most Anticipated of 2020 hub.
When the original Psychonauts launched in 2005, the platformer’s heyday was already fizzling out–contemporary action games like God of War, Resident Evil 4, and Gears of War saw to that. Fortunately, platformers are far more common again these days thanks to indie developers, which has once again saturated the genre. Still, I look to Psychonauts 2 to remind me why I love the platformers, but in new ways.
In Psychonauts 2, I am most excited about the level design. The original game’s stages were created around the psyche of various characters whom our hero Raz is trying to help. Physical education teacher Coach Oleander sees the world as a Normandy-esque battlefield; conspiracy-theory loving security guard Boyd Cooper is plagued with anxieties of undercover milkmen secretly spying on suburban households. This reflexive level design is the embodiment of “show, don’t tell,” a narrative concept that lets the player discover more about characters without overlong cutscenes or expository text boxes. And the ideas are ridiculous enough that you can laugh at each stage you’re leaping through–there’s a circus made of meat in there for Crueller’s sake.
I’m excited to see what level design concepts the sequel explores, especially since we’ll be meeting a whole new cast of characters. The adventure picks up right where VR spin-off Rhombus of Ruin left off, with Raz and company arriving at Psychonauts HQ. Apparently, the organization has been up to no good, and at least one agent has been dabbling in necromancy. I can’t even imagine what mental gymnastics they did to justify that–or what literal gymnastics I’ll do in the level based on this necromancer’s mind.
It’s been a long journey for Psychonauts 2, one that started with a super successful Kickstarter campaign in January 2016. We didn’t end up seeing an official first trailer until The Game Awards 2018. Despite the surprise reveal, the sequel was later pushed back until at least 2019–the first of two delays. The second came after Microsoft acquired developer Double Fine, who, despite announcing it’ll be publishing Psychonauts 2, will still be releasing the game on PS4 and PC as well. However, just a few weeks after that announcement, the game was delayed again, this time into 2020. I genuinely hope that’s the last one because I want to get my telekinetic hands around Psychonauts 2 soon.
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