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.
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!