Psychonauts is probably one of the greatest 3D platformers ever made. Charming from head to toe and one of Tim Schafer’s finest works, fans were clamoring for a sequel for years. Then, in 2015, after some on-again, off-again, and finally a washing of the hands from a possible funding effort by Markus “Notch” Perrson of Mojang, Double Fine and Tim Schafer formally announced the crowdfunding campaign for a proper Psychonauts sequel. Later this year, following some delays, Psychonauts 2 will be released.
Since it’s been a 16-year wait for a sequel with a small VR-based middle game in between, it’s best to catch up on the Psychonauts story.
Psychonauts takes place in the 1980s around Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp: a children’s summer camp that selects its attendees for their unique psychic gifts. The camp is built around the area known as Whispering Valley, which has a rich history about psychics.
Back in the 1400s, the area around Whispering Rock was struck by a meteorite containing a mysterious alien element. The radiation from this element, later dubbed Psitanium by the US government, began infecting the local wildlife and indigenous peoples, granting them psychic powers. Cats would swat you with telekinesis, bears would levitate, and deer would breathe fire. It was not a fun time.
Later in around the 1780s, local native inhabitants discovered the meteorite’s crater and dubbed the Psitanium “Whispering Rock” as it haunted the natives with strange voices in their heads. Settlers later moved into the area and established a town around the crater and surrounding forest. Then, people in the towns would suddenly have bouts of “Paranormal Hysteria,” taking the form of madness and erratic behaviors. Eventually, a town doctor, Houston Thorney, would build the local insane asylum, Thorney Towers Home of the Disturbed.
By 1920, the population of the asylum was greater than that of the surrounding town and Houston committed suicide one evening by throwing himself off the largest tower in the asylum after falling victim to a bout of Paranormal Hysteria. In 1925, the United States government paid the remaining sane residents to vacate the area, then flooded the crater containing the Psitanium meteorite and established Lake Oblongata.
In 1975, the government founded Whispering Rock Summer Camp as a secretive training facility for children with latent psychic powers to become Psychonauts, psychically gifted secret agents who work with the United States government to keep world peace and investigate the presence of Unregistered Paranormal Entities, creatures or individuals causing trouble with their powers. Whispering Rock Summer Camp would also serve as a therapeutic role for the new recruits, letting them learn to control their powers and offer a safe space for those ridiculed for their abilities.
Razputin “Raz” Aquato
Razputin “Raz” Aquato is the main character of Psychonauts. Raz is the middle child of five to his parents, Donnatella and Augustus Aquato who run the Aquato Family Circus with their headline act, the Flying Aquatos.
Born with psychic powers, Raz was strictly forbidden from exercising his abilities by his father, Augustus. Even though his father was aware of his unique gifts, Raz was encouraged to instead practice his acrobatics for the family act. The training for the circus was physically punishing for Raz, so much that he began to think that his father hated him, and all other psychics, despite Raz suspecting Augustus himself was also a psychic. Raz believes this grudge originates from the Aquato family’s feud with another group of psychic acrobats, the Galochios, who cursed the Aquato family with an ominous spell called the Hand of Galochio. Whenever an Aquato family member enters any body of water deeper than a few inches, a massive hand will reach out and drown the unfortunate Aquato and pull them into the depths.
Now an ace Psychonaut working alongside field agents Sasha Nein and Camilla Vodello, he sets off to save Grand Head Truman Zanotto from the insane ex-dentist Dr. Cagliostro Loboto. Raz has since returned to Psychonauts HQ to find the organization not all it seemed to be and now he has to dig deeper to investigate what is going on with the organization.
Sasha Nein is a German immigrant turned brilliant Psychonaut field agent and scientist. Despite conducting his rather questionable experiments on subjects, Agent Nein is a cool-headed individual who sees potential in Raz’s psychic powers and wishes to help him become an experienced Psychonaut. He is seen as a hero to young Psychonauts in training who read True Psychic Tales magazine for his achievements in the field as well as breakthroughs in psychic studies. Agent Nein has since returned to Psychonauts HQ with Raz and sets off to find out what has happened with the organization’s sudden shift into researching unorthodox uses of psychic powers, such as necromancy.
Camilla “Milla” Vodello
Working as a camp counselor at Whispering Rock alongside Agent Nein is Camilla “Milla” Vodello, a Brazilian levitation and telekinesis master with the Psychonauts. She won’t talk about her past, but all that’s known was she was a nurse at a pediatric ward in her homeland. After a traumatic accident at the pediatric ward she oversaw, she was taken in by the Psychonauts and healed in a psycho-isolation chamber to heal from the extreme distress her mind had taken. After rising through the ranks as a field agent, she was assigned to the training facility at Whispering Rock as a counselor and levitation trainer. Camilla and Sasha Nein were also in a relationship and frequently went on field assignments before going to Whispering Rock as counselors. Camilla has returned with Sasha Nein to Psychonauts HQ after helping Raz Aquato save the Grand Head from the experiments of Dr. Cagliostro Loboto.
Lili Zanotto has passed every test, run every course, and has every Merit Badge that you can earn at Whispering Rock, and now she’s had enough of it. Despite being the daughter of the Grand Head of the Psychonauts, Truman Zanotto, and a very gifted psychic, she cares very little for being a field agent. That was until Raz Aquato showed up at Whispering Rock Summer Camp, then she was smitten. After falling in love with Raz and helping him stop Dr. Loboto not once but twice, Lili regains her motivation to become a Psychonaut and is quickly promoted to a field agent like her new boyfriend. Since helping Raz save her father, Lili is currently stationed at Psychonauts headquarters.
Called “the greatest Psychonaut to have ever lived” by Raz, Ford Cruller sure doesn’t seem that way with his Albert Einstein meets Mark Twain looks and ragged mustache. The first Grand Head of the Psychonauts, Ford Cruller originally found deposits of Psitanium all around Whispering Valley. Ford would also go on to be the founder of Whispering Rock Summer Camp and begin the recruitment for more agents in the field. After losing a psychic duel to the leader of a mysterious band of psychic terrorists, Botulo Kanker of the Poison Path, Cruller’s personality and psyche became fractured. Now serving as Whispering Rock’s janitor, chef, harbor master, ranger, and whatever other odd job there is, Ford sometimes forgets who he is. Only when he comes into contact with a large concentration of Psitanium does his full personality come back. You can also contact him using a slice of bacon, don’t ask why or how.
Dr. Cagliostro Loboto
Dr. Cagliostro Loboto is the main bad guy of both Psychonauts and Psychonauts: In the Rhombus of Ruin. After being caught by his parents bending spoons with telekinesis, Cagliostro was given a lobotomy to “cure” him of his psychic powers. After somehow becoming a licensed dentist, he was admitted to Thorney Towers Home for the Disturbed for physically harming his patients. Now he has developed a “super sneezing powder” to make gifted psychics literally sneeze out their own brains for his insane research.
After being flung off the top of Thorney Towers by a blast from a Brain Tank, Dr. Loboto disappeared. He was revealed to be a mastermind behind the kidnapping of Grand Head of the Psychonauts, Truman Zanotto, during the events of In the Rhombus of Ruin. After being stopped a second time by Raz, Dr. Loboto is now imprisoned at Psychonauts headquarters, the Motherlobe, and is under strict observation.
Coach Morceau Oleander
Coach Morceau Oleander doesn’t at first appear to be the bad guy, with him being the writer of a pamphlet that gets Raz to join the Psychonauts. His leadership qualities make him resemble George Patton with his stern speeches and motivational qualities, like any good drill sergeant. Originally, he was plotting with Dr. Loboto to take over the world using a weapon called the Brain Tank, an autonomous tank powered by the disembodied brain of a powerful psychic. However, after being saved by Raz following an accident involving some of Dr. Loboto’s sneezing powder and a Psychoblaster Brain Tank, he is put on probation by the Psychonauts, but the agents still hold some degree of trust for him.
Another neutral party forcefully turned villain is the Hideous Hulking Lungfish of Lake Oblongata, also known as Linda. Originally a normal lungfish that lived in Lake Oblongata, Linda was turned into an experiment by Dr. Loboto and Coach Oleander. Growing to an enormous size following a psychic implant, Linda is used to kidnap the children of Whispering Rock Summer Camp for experiments late at night. After being freed from her mind control, Linda becomes an ally of Raz and helps him defeat Dr. Loboto. She now lives peacefully in the underwater regions of Lake Oblongata.
Psychonauts 1 Recap
Psychonauts starts with Raz Aquato first receiving a pamphlet explaining the Psychonaut training program at Whispering Rock Summer Camp, he decides to flee his family’s circus and sneak in. After being caught by counselor Milla Vodello, who calls Raz’s father Augustus, she is convinced to let Raz stay on the camp grounds until he has to leave.
While staying at the camp, Raz befriends a boy with incredibly strong psychic powers, Dogen Boole. Dogen wears a tin-foil hat to keep his psychic powers in check, because otherwise his out-of-control powers could make someone’s head explode. Raz also ends up meeting Lili Zanotto, a skilled pyrokinesis master and daughter of the Grand Head of the Psychonauts, who quickly falls in love with Raz upon first meeting him.
The PSI Cadets at Whispering Rock all meet with their head counselor, Psychonaut recruiter and instructor Morceau Oleander. They all pass Oleander’s Basic Braining course with varying degrees of success, but Raz’s aptitude with psychic powers and acrobatics garners attention from Psychonaut agent Sasha Nein. Pulling Raz aside, Sasha invites him to come to his laboratory for advanced training using a special device called a Brain Tumbler. The Tumbler allows a psychic to delve into the mind of any other person or even their own mind. Upon entering a person’s mind, it is manifested as a Mindscape. These sometimes bizarre worlds represent the inner thoughts of an individual and can manifest certain things like their deepest fears or desires, or their perceptions of certain individuals.
During an experiment using Agent Nein’s Brain Tumbler, Raz delves into his own Mindscape to unlock his true potential use of psychic powers. He comes across a vision of a thorny tower inhabited by an evil dentist wearing a shower cap threatens his friend, Dogen Boole, with the removal of his brain on an operating slab. Back in reality, Raz finds out this prophetic dream has come true and he stumbles upon Dogen in an almost vegetative state, his brain completely missing from his body.
Digging more into this incident Raz meets the camp’s janitor, among many other roles, Ford Cruller- who happens to be a retired ace Psychonaut agent and powerful ally. Learning new psychic powers with a quick training regimen from Ford, Agent Nein, and counselor Milla Vodello, Raz delves back into his vision of the thorny tower. There he finds a vision of the demented dentist experimenting on Dogen Boole, making him sneeze his own brain out using a type of powerful sneezing powder and throwing it down a chute. Chasing after the disembodied brain, Raz discovered plans for a special kind of tank powered by a psychic’s brain. Before he could find out more information on the weapon, Raz is suddenly pulled back into reality with Sasha Nein turning off the Brain Tumbler and departing on “official Psychonaut business.” The official business is Agent Nein’s partner Milla Vodello has gone missing.
After meeting back with Lili Zanotto, Raz and she discuss their findings on Dogen’s sudden mental incapacity and Raz’s visions while inside the Mindscape. They conclude that Coach Oleander is plotting to take over the world by snatching psychics’ brains and installing them in these “Brain Tanks.” Before they can hatch a plan to stop Oleander and this nameless psycho dentist, Lili is kidnapped by the once-thought mythical Hideous Hulking Lungfish of Lake Oblongata.
Even though Raz has a crippling fear of deep water due to his family’s long-lasting curse, he borrows a bathysphere to dive into the deepest parts of Lake Oblongata to free Lili from the clutches of the lungfish. After discovering that the lungfish, named Linda, is actually an experiment created by the dentist Dr. Loboto and Coach Oleander, he learns that Lili has been taken across the lake to the old insane asylum Thorney Towers Home for the Disturbed.
Making his way up to the gates, Raz runs into a security guard named Boyd Cooper, an old man with an insane belief about government conspiracies and a bizarre clue that “the milkman holds the key.” Visiting Boyd’s Mindscape using a Psycho-Portal, essentially a portable device that allows a psychic to dive directly into a person’s mind, Raz finds out that Boyd is rather troubled in the head.
After defeating a fragment of Boyd’s mind called the Den Mother and the Rainbow Squirts that accompany her, Raz discovers that “The Milkman” is actually Boyd’s pyromaniac alter ego that wants to make sure that everyone knows his milk is delicious and wishes to make one final delivery. Upon Raz setting Boyd free of his fractured mind, it’s discovered that Coach Oleander implanted a hypnotic suggestion into Boyd to burn down the asylum should any information get out. When Raz accidentally discovers the trigger phrase for this, Boyd becomes The Milkman once again, armed with Molotov Cocktails disguised as milk bottles, and gives Raz the key to the front door of the asylum. Boyd, however, does not burn down the asylum. He just stands by the front door waiting for something.
Entering the asylum, Raz meets several of the remaining mental patients still living there. He first meets Gloria Van Gouton, an ex-actress who suffers from severe mood swings and bipolar disorder. Then he meets the estranged descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte, Fred Bonaparte, who is possessed by the ghost of Napoleon and driven by an ambition to conquer all that he sees. Lastly, Raz meets ex-wrestler and talented black velvet painter Edgar Teglee, who is prone to violent outbursts and traumatized by a heartbreak that happened in his high school years. After sorting out their mindscapes using his Psycho-Portal, Raz enlists the help of the asylum patients to craft a disguise to look like Dr. Loboto to sneak past the asylum’s near-sighted orderly, Crispin Whytehead.
On the upper floors of the asylum, Raz then runs into Dr. Loboto’s assistant, Sheegor, who reluctantly works for the doctor because he holds her pet turtle, Mr. Pokeylope, hostage. Helping Sheegor to rescue her pet turtle, Raz finds out Mr. Pokeylope is actually entirely sentient and incredibly intelligent. Upon finding the top of the asylum’s tallest tower, Raz discovers the brains of Sasha Nein and Milla Vodello in jars. Raz manages to re-brain the two Psychonaut agents and they spring into action, hijacking a Brain Tank to put a stop to Dr. Loboto’s plan, and knocking him out the top of the tallest tower of the asylum. Dr. Loboto mysteriously disappears, his body not found anywhere nearby.
After freeing Lili, who is trapped in a cell nearby the laboratory in the tower, Oleander appears furious that his plans have been foiled. Sasha and Milla send Lili and Raz down from the tower so they’re not hurt in the battle. Ford Cruller then bursts in to help, with a piece of raw Psitanium on his back to prevent his personality from fracturing, and manages to spray Oleander with a dose of Dr. Loboto’s super sneezing powder, which causes him to sneeze out his brain and Oleander seems defeated. Meanwhile, the now-cured asylum patients all decide to leave, but not without Boyd throwing one last molotov cocktail through the window, catching the building on fire and causing it to explode from a gas leak. The patients all make it to safety, and Lili and Raz kiss with the ensuing inferno in the background, confirming their relationship.
Sasha and Milla emerge from the building with a brainless, vegetative Oleander in tow. Suddenly, a larger, more powerful “Psychoblaster” Tank appears with the brain of Oleander at the helm. He knocks out all the Psychonauts, leaving only Raz standing to face Coach alone. The tank is defeated, but Raz is hit with a dose of the super sneezing powder, causing him to lose his brain. Using telekinesis, Raz’s brain lifts itself into the tank’s brain container, causing the psyches of Oleander and Raz to merge.
Inside the twisted Mindscape, Raz protects a child version of Oleander from a menacing version of Oleander’s abusive father, The Butcher, and defeats him to protect the inner version of Oleander. Raz also ends up meeting a version of his own father, Augustus, and wrangles with his own inner demons to find out the truth. Following a psychic duel, Raz discovers that Augustus Aquato, even though he hates psychics, is himself one as well. Augustus tells Raz that he only made him practice his acrobatics so much that he intended to teach him better discipline and explains the family’s rivalry with the Galochios. After knocking both The Butcher and Augustus’ spectres into a meat grinder, the two re-emerge as a combined monstrosity. The two-headed monster is dispatched and both Raz’s and Oleander’s psyches are separated.
Back at camp, all of the missing PSI-Cadets captured by Dr. Loboto are re-brained by the camp counselors. Oleander realizes his mistakes and deeply apologizes for his actions after being taught a valuable lesson inside his Mindscape by Raz. Ford Cruller, with his psyche repaired by the giant piece of Psitanium, promotes Raz to a true Psychonaut after seeing his exceptional talent and for helping to save the camp. Raz and Lili also reconcile about their relationship, but Lili runs off due to the fact that the Aquato family’s circus travels around so much that it’ll be hard for them to see each other. Before they could leave, Sasha Nein and Milla Vodello approach Raz with grave news: The Grand Head of the Psychonauts and Lili’s father, Truman Zanotto has been kidnapped by a mysterious assailant. The Psychonauts, including Lili and Coach Oleander, jump in a high-tech aircraft and depart for their mission.
Psychonauts In the Rhombus of Ruin Recap
After departing in a high-tech jet to find the missing Grand Head of the Psychonauts, Raz tries to figure out what happened with Lili’s father. Using his powers of clairvoyance on a music box given to Lili when she was younger by her father, Raz discovers that Truman is being kept in an underwater laboratory that houses a material known as Psilirium. Much like its cousin element, Psitanium, Psilirium is an alien substance that affects psychic energies. But instead of enhancing these energies, it disrupts them.
Raz further deduces that this laboratory is located in the Rhombus of Ruin, a mysterious part of the world where ships and airplanes go missing due to the presence of Psilirium that disrupts electronics and psychic energies. After discovering the new alien material, the Psychonauts built a laboratory under the ocean on top of the largest deposit of Psilirium in the world inside of the Rhombus. Unfortunately, due to reports of Psychonauts experiencing harmful side effects from the Psilirium concentration, the facility was abandoned.
Upon getting near the lab and entering the border of the Rhombus of Ruin, the Psychonauts’ jet is pulled out of the sky by a mysterious force. After waking up strapped to a chair, Raz finds himself in the same laboratory he saw in his visions connecting to the music box. None of the Psychonauts are around, and the facility is guarded by mutated fish-men. With his powers of clairvoyance, Raz travels around the facility using the minds of the guards to find out what happened to Truman Zanotto and the rest of the Psychonauts.
Raz finds each of the Psychonauts, separated by the crash, in ruins scattered around the sunken laboratory and frees them from a trance-like state caused by the massive deposit of Psirilium the lab sits on top of. After rejoining the group in the lab and finding Raz, Oleander warns him of who he thinks is running the abandoned facility and kidnapped Truman Zanotto – none other than Dr. Cagliostro Loboto once again. The insane dentist appears and nearly lobotomizes Raz, but a quick-thinking Coach Oleander tosses a Psycho-Portal onto the back of the doctor’s head, allowing Raz to delve into his psyche.
Upon entering the dentist’s mind, Raz discovers Dr. Loboto’s mind is a vast ocean (when it’s actually a bathtub) and is trapped on a ship with a version of the doctor called First Mate Loboto. Raz is tied to the ship’s mast and finds out First Mate Loboto has lost his compass and the ship is stranded. The ship is attacked by a giant version of Dr. Loboto called Monstroloboto, which is the insane half of Dr. Loboto’s personality.
After defeating the Monstroloboto, Raz delves deeper into Dr. Loboto’s psyche which is appearing as a dollhouse. On the front porch of the house, Raz sees patchwork doll recreations of Dr. Loboto’s parents, who thought he was a “devil-child” for being a psychic. When he was subject to a lobotomy, which removed his powers but caused him to go insane, Raz finds out Dr. Loboto was also sent to Thorney Towers Home for the Disturbed as a patient. With Raz exiting his psyche, Dr. Loboto regains his sanity and expresses remorse for what he’s done.
Dr. Loboto calls off the Fish Guards under his command and tells them to swim away. The Psychonauts then free Truman Zanotto from a prison cell and board the jet with Dr. Loboto in tow, stowing the doctor in the cargo hold. Lili then reveals to her father that she and Raz are in love, leaving the Grand Head in shock. The heroes depart for Psychonauts HQ, the Motherlobe.
What’s New in Psychonauts 2?
Psychonauts 2 intends to keep a lot of the same mechanics from the first game, including telekinesis to throw objects, pyrokinesis to start fires, and clairvoyance to see through the eyes of various characters. You can expect more unique psychic powers to augment Raz’s already vast array of abilities.
Improving further on the platformer mechanics, Double Fine doesn’t seem to be messing with the formula much. The biggest updates mainly will be in scope, scale, and visuals for this sequel.
When’s Psychonauts 2 Coming Out?
Psychonauts 2 is due out on August 25th, 2021 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. This will be Double Fine’s last multiplatform release since joining the Microsoft Game Studios portfolio in 2019.
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