Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin - LAN Mob Game Review

The original Psychonauts is easily one of my favorite video games of all time, thanks to the insanely unique humor and charm conjured up by the minds of Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine Studios. With Psychonauts 2 on the way (FINALLY), the team at Double Fine presented fans with a small appetizer to stimulate our hunger until the official sequel releases next year, in the form of a virtual reality adventure game. While Rhombus of Ruin may be very short, the opportunity to interact with some of my favorite characters of all time, while utilizing the PSVR perfectly, makes the bridge between games an authentic and memorable experience.

PSVR Exclusive

Rhombus of Ruin goes back to Tim Schafer's roots of point and click adventure titles, with an added unique spin of seeing through Razputin Aquato's eyes. Rhombus of Ruin takes place immediately after the original Psychonauts. Raz, his unconfirmed girlfriend (but they kissed once so probably official girlfriend) Lili Zannato, their fellow elite Psychonauts - Sasha Nein and Milla Vodello and even Coach Oleander leave Whispering Rock Summer Camp in search of Lili's father, and leader of the Psychonauts, Truman Zinnato. Through Raz's perspective players have access to an arsenal of psychic abilities including telekinesis, pyrokinesis, psi-blasts and the star of the show - clairvoyance. All of these psychic abilities are tied to face buttons on the Dualshock 4 controller, and players use the PSVR's head-tracking to aim. After messing around on the plane for a while, learning how each of these powers work, the plane crashes in the Double Fine version of the Bermuda Triangle - The Rhombus of Ruin. 

Reading crab sandwich magazine ads with telekinesis in Psychonauts VR. 2017 is something else.

Once in the Rhombus of Ruin your entire squad gets separated and it's up to Raz to rescue them all and get out of dodge. Without spoiling anything, Raz is "immobilized" and players have to utilize clairvoyance to jump around minds, changing your perspective to that of your unsuspecting victims. Using these points of view to your disposal in tandem with your other psychic powers, you must interact with your environment and solve puzzles to rescue your friends. Sometimes things are as simple as jumping to somebody's mind to steal a glance at a classified document or to lighting a candle with pyrokinesis, but almost all of these interactions feel great. "Psychic Poke" is not really used to solve any puzzles, but simply create dialogue from Raz's perspective on what you are psychically prodding, which is always a treat and sometimes helpful in your quest. These snippets of dialogue help make up one of Rhombus of Ruin's greatest strengths.

The atmosphere of Rhombus of Ruin is absolutely incredible. This is easily the best looking game I've ever played in PSVR, character models are perfect, environments are well rendered and beautiful and the music is spot on. Rhombus of Ruin is completely saturated in the same style that makes the original Psychonauts such a treasure. Interacting with these characters in VR manages to create a tone of humor that had me cracking up in my seat on multiple occasions. The atmosphere is easily what makes Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin worth playing, even to one who may not be familiar with the original game/cast.

Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin's opening credit sequence, clearly a homage to early Bond films and a genuinely cool experience in VR.

                 
Rhombus of Ruin is not without a few shortcomings. The game is only about 2 hours, with very little replayability. Puzzles are relatively static with one single solution, so after solving them once the little challenge they presented is depleted. I feel like if Double Fine took a crack at a full length VR title it would knock the socks off everybody, but Rhombus of Ruin seems to end right as it hits its stride. I paid $16 for Rhombus of Ruin via preorder so I can't be too mad, but damn I'd like to spend more time with these guys.

Ultimately, Rhombus of Ruin was a pure treat as a fan of Psychonauts. It was a genuine pleasure to spend time with Raz and Lili and their budding youth romance, Sasha and Millo and their approaches to problem solving and Coach's...insanity. While I never felt challenged, poking and prodding the environment and hearing Raz's thoughts and bad puns brought a smile to my face. Even if you aren't familiar with Tim Schafer's masterpiece, Rhombus of Ruin represents a solid display of what the PSVR is capable of. The game can certainly be docked points for length and overall depth, but its climatic finale and atmosphere made for an excellent bridge between titles, and a small taste of the world has got me more excited than ever.


        
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