Top 100 Games of All-Time: #60


Release Date: April 19, 2005

Platform Played On: PS2

2018 Placement: #41 (-19)


What It Is:

A platformer from the creative mind of Tim Schafer and others from the old LucasArts point-and-click adventure team and the first game from the Double Fine studio. At the time it was exciting and filled me with a sense of joy and wonder because writing and humor I’d enjoyed in a different genre was coming to another genre I had a total fondness for.

Psychonauts is very much a platformer that encompasses all the standards of early 3D platforming: there’s a hub world you run around in where you can talk to other students, and there are “worlds” you enter by jumping into people’s psyches to see what’s going on inside their head. You unlock cool psychic powers like pyrokinesis and levitation and use them to navigate the worlds of the mind. It has weird and wacky energy and is definitely a very niche kind of game, but it’s a good niche.

Why It’s Important To Me:

It just is, okay?

In all seriousness, Psychonauts was just a damn fun, creative game that was a new IP from the people who vacated LucasArts when their point-and-click video game making days were over. That was enough for me to be on board from the beginning, but then the world of Psychonauts itself was as charming as it was over-the-top. Going into the minds of different teachers/people to figure out what was happening was a fun concept and each world was very unique, taking on a different style from other platformers at the time and not just doing “fire world” “water world” etc. It also plays with cool concepts like the “censors” who are in people’s minds to keep things like hallucinations and Raz (the protagonist) out.

My Strongest Memory:

The Milkman Conspiracy is an all-time great level, where you enter the mind of a security guard who is a conspiracy theorist and end up in a warped suburban neighborhood patrolled by G-Men. It’s such a wonderful level that explores mental illness from a different perspective. There are winks and nods to big conspiracies and a playfulness to the overall theme, but it’s the stand-out level of the entire game and the one I still remember 15 years later.

Of course, I also remember Meat Circus as one of the all-time worst final levels in gaming as well. Fuck Meat Circus.

Why It’s #60:

This game has had such a lasting impression on me that it hangs out in the top 100 even though I haven’t played it in many years. It came out at a time where I missed point-and-click adventures and got excited seeing something new and different from the team of people I’d enjoyed many games from previously. I took to the overall theme and world-building instantly and it became a classic in my mind, proven by it slowly gaining a following over time. I eagerly anticipate the sequel.