I loved the original Psychonauts when it first released in 2005. As a fan of Tim Schafer’s previous work, I was interested to see how his writing, characters, and world building would translate into a 3D platformer. I really enjoyed that game. Flash forward nearly 12 years later, my interest was once again peaked when I found out Double Fine would be returning to that world with a game set entirely in virtual reality. Enter Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin. Does the whimsical world of Psychonauts translate well into VR?
Into the depths
Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin is a first-person adventure game for the PlayStation VR. The game’s story serves to bridge the gap between the events of Psychonauts and the upcoming Psychonauts 2. At the end of the original game, as Raz prepares to go home, news arrives that the leader of the Psychonauts has been kidnapped. The team flies off in the Psychonauts’ jet to rescue him. Rhombus of Ruin picks up immediately after that.
What follows is a whimsical rescue mission into the heart of the Rhombus of Ruin—a mysterious part of the ocean “as deadly as two Bermuda Triangles back to back!” Written by Tim Schafer, Rhombus of Ruin is packed with humor reminiscent of his previous work. In typical Schafer fashion, the dialogue and characters are what stand out the most. I found myself quickly falling back in love with the Psychonauts universe.
Rhombus of Ruin isn’t a long game. I was able to complete the experience in just under two hours. Keep in mind that any subsequent playthroughs will be even quicker (as you will know all of the puzzle solutions). That being said, It’s a nice “refresher” on the Psychonauts lore, characters, and its world.
You’ll spend the entirety of the game in first person, traversing the world from different character’s perspectives. With the PSVR, the controls are incredibly simple. Moving your head lets you look around the world, and using the face buttons/triggers on the PS4 controller lets you interact with the environment. Throughout the game, you’ll also acquire a unique arsenal of abilities. A few of these include telekinesis, pyro blast, and “Psi Beam.”
As a Psychonauts game, Rhombus of Ruin handles locomotion in the most logical way possible. By aiming at another “living” character and pressing the SQUARE button, you’ll jump into their body (through clairvoyance) and then see the world from that character’s point of view. Whether you’re using clairvoyance to traverse the world or to solve a puzzle, moving in RoR is simple and effective. I should also mention that I played the entirety of the game in a single sitting and never felt motion sick. The puzzles are pretty straight forward, with a handful of clever solutions sprinkled throughout. My one word of advice is to interact with everything. There’s no inventory in the game, so every puzzle’s solution is in the area you currently occupy. It’s fun jumping into different bodies and solving puzzles by seeing the room from new, unique perspectives.
There are also a few fantastic set pieces throughout Rhombus of Ruin that really take advantage of the PSVR. There’s a boss battle towards the end of the game that felt gargantuan as they towered over me. Through the PSVR, I got a sense of just how small I was in that moment.
Once more into the Rhombus
While I enjoyed my time with Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, it’s not going to set the world on fire. With its environmental puzzles, telekinetic abilities, and its Bond-esc theme song, It actually reminded me a little of I Expect You to Die, another VR “puzzle game.” Although, one area where RoR shines is in its ability to bring us so cleverly into the Psychonauts universes.