Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin is a Playstation VR-exclusive sequel/spin-off to the classic Double Fine platformer Psychonauts, due to receive a proper sequel in the near future as well.
It’s hard to imagine that the original Psychonauts game is over 10 years old already. Still available and popular on Steam, it was a game for the original Xbox and the Playstation 2. Two generations later, a crowdfunding campaign has brought fans of the game the promise of a long-awaited sequel, and now Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin to bridge the story gap between the first and second game. The catch is also the main appeal here – Rhombus of Ruin is only available for Playstation 4 owners who have a VR headset to use.
At the start of Rhombus of Ruin, you’re quickly (re)introduced to the game’s main characters, as well as the psychic powers you have – as such, the first quarter of an hour serves as kind of a tutorial. You’re also introduced to the story, in which you’re searching for Truman Zanotto, the leader of the Psychonauts.
What you also quickly learn is that this isn’t a platformer like the other game, but rather a first person adventure not too unlike Arkham VR was. Psychonauts is controlled with the Dualshock controller though, with move support currently not available. It would have been interesting to try this out, but perhaps the amount of controller buttons that are in use don’t allow for this. Your powers are mapped to individual buttons, with your viewing direction acting as a targeting device.
Traversing the game world is similar to Arkham VR as well, although protagonist Raz uses ‘clairvoyance’ to inhabit other bodies and get different perspectives instead or ‘click-moving’ himself around. This helps with puzzle-solving, as they’re often spatial in nature and require you to look at a problem from different angles.
Your special powers allow you to burn items that are in your way, launch psychic projectiles at distant objects and manipulate items using telekinesis, just to give a few examples. It’s a fun and diverse experience to play through, despite the fact that the puzzles themselves aren’t the most challenging ones around.
An average playthrough isn’t going to last more than two hours or so – perhaps three if you get stumped a few times or are generally very easy-going about your progress. I suppose this is another similarity to Arkham VR, which was equally short in length and which was only good for trophy hunting and showing off after your initial playthrough. And even though Rhombus of Ruin is a distinctly different kind of game in tone and setting, both games are stellar performances when it comes to the artistic merits on display.
Rhombus of Ruin looks great, with an animation style that lends itself well to the power requirements of VR. A special mention should also go out to the audio, which an excellent musical score and return performances from the original voice cast. The writing is also good, and generally funny. My only real gripe with the game is its length, but luckily there is more Psychonauts on the horizon. Rhombus of Ruin has only made me more excited for that one.