Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin Reviews

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Slam-Shot-Sam
46,950 (30,645)
Slam-Shot-Sam
TT Score for this game: 396
Posted on 20 March 17 at 02:00, Edited on 25 March 17 at 00:01
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Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin | PS4 | Review

Bridging the gap between 2005’s cult classic Psychonauts and its upcoming sequel Psychonauts 2, Rhombus of Ruin trades platforming for puzzles without forfeiting any of the series’ uniquely psychedelic identity in the process. In fact, thanks to the introduction of PlayStation VR, Psychonauts is more fittingly outlandish than ever.

A classic adventure game at its core, you utilise protagonist Razputin Aquato’s psychic abilities to interact with environments and characters to unravel clues and solve problems. These interactions are incredibly rich on both fronts; environments are some of the most lovingly detailed we’ve seen in VR, while characters are both brilliantly written and performed.

You’re introduced to the game with a recap on the story so far, which is handy, because you probably need it whether you’re a newcomer or not (it’s been about seven years after all – I struggle to remember whether I’ve eaten breakfast). Truman Zanotto, leader of the Psychonauts and father to Razputin’s love interest, has been kidnapped and is being held in the murky depths of the Rhombus of Ruin. The titular Rhombus is a foreboding even-sided quadrilateral of water where things have a tendency to disappear, and the ‘nauts are no exception.

Not only do the team find themselves separated when they throw caution to the wind and enter the Rhombus, but an abundance of psychohazardous materials also strip Raz of his most valuable abilities. In the absence of his kinesises you’re forced to rely on observation to conquer early puzzles, utilising clairvoyance to enter the mind and fixed perspective of various life forms in order to discover and interact with key objects.

Environments are some of the most lovingly detailed we’ve seen in VR, while characters are both brilliantly written and performed.
Perspective hopping is a mechanic that’ll likely be familiar to anyone with a few virtual reality games under their belt, but, while it can be immersion-breaking elsewhere, here it’s a perfect fit. What can feel like a design compromise for the sake of comfort is instead used to physically anchor the player in the role of Razputin, who also sits removed from the world around him throughout the duration of the game.

Having become a rescue mission that extends to the entire Psychonauts crew, the retrieval of each member adds them, along with a specific power, back to your collective consciousness. Subsequent puzzles require proper use of these powers, which sounds obvious, but this ensures you have a focused train of thought and helps prevent floundering for any significant length of time on any one puzzle. Unlike previous adventure games from the mind of Tim Schafer, solutions are never bizarre enough that you should need to look them up.

This structure and a lack of padding give Rhombus of Ruin a strong throughline that carried us to the finish in a single sitting. While it only clocked in around the three hour mark, it was all killer and no filler. There’s no immediate replay value outside of some missable Trophies, but it’s definitely one to show VR-curious friends and family.

Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin reminds us why the original found a place in the heart of so many gamers. Its settings and characters are gorgeously vivacious, with PlayStation VR bringing them to life in ever-more gleeful fashion. Double Fine kept things simple with their playful exploration of scale and perspective, and in the process they captured the essence of fun. Bring on Psychonauts 2!

Pros

+ Simple (though not entirely easy), fun & cheerful
+ Lovable characters
+ Some stunning environments
+ Consistently paced
+ Cheesy Bond-inspired soundtrack

Cons

- Short length & lacking replay value
- Infrequent object targeting issues

9/10

Rhombus of Ruin has an easy set of trophies. If you happen to miss any, chapter select makes it convenient to get right back to where you need to be and there are guides for all the missables online, if not specifically here on TT.

Originally written for Pass the Controller, a copy was provided for the purpose of this review.

You can check out my Xbox One reviews over at TrueAchievements.

Thanks for reading!
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