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Psychonauts 2 beginner’s guide

After 16 years of waiting, Psychonauts 2 is finally here. Razputin Aquato has been promoted from aspiring Psychonaut to Intern — and the stakes are higher than ever before. Tim Schafer and the team at Double Fine somehow managed to surpass the high expectations set out by the community and craft a game that many are already calling the game of the year.

However, anyone new to the series — or veterans returning after a 16-year hiatus — might need a few pointers to successfully navigate the jumbled brains they’ll be diving into as a Psychonaut in training. If you’re looking to make the most of your time with the quirky platformer, these Psychonauts 2 tips should get you off to a strong start.

Further reading

Forget what you learned from the original Psychonauts

Raz runs on a colorful stage in Psychonauts 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Within minutes of launching Psychonauts 2, you’ll notice radical changes from the original. Multiple skills are immediately available for use, enemies are more challenging, and its overall level design has seen radical improvements and additions. Anyone who has played the original will find plenty of similarities between the two — but it’s best to approach the sequel as an entirely new experience.

Collect Figments

One thing that hasn’t changed from the original, however, is the importance of Figments. These collectibles are haphazardly strewn across every single level — gather enough of them, and you’ll level up. Upgrading skills and unlocking new areas are directly related to your level, so it’s worth the effort to collect every Figment you come across.

Don’t forget to dodge

Psychonauts 2 made big changes compared to its predecessor, and nowhere is that more apparent than combat. Specifically, you’ll want to make liberal use of the dodge mechanic, as enemies are much more deadly now than they were in the past. Forget to dodge, and your battles will be short-lived.

Use all your abilities in combat

Raz hits an enemy with a giant hand in Psychonauts 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Speaking of combat, make sure you’re using all available abilities to eliminate your targets. Psi Blast, Pyrokinesis, Telekinesis, and even Levitation can all be used to your advantage. You can certainly opt for a melee-only playstyle, although you’ll be making things more difficult than they really need to be.

Move faster with Levitation

While its main purpose is to help you glide across large chasms and avoid electrified floors, your Levitation skill can also be used to move around at a breakneck pace. Just assign it to one of your four ability slots, activate it while standing on the ground, and prepare to zip around at nearly twice your normal speed. You’ll be covering a lot of ground in Psychonauts 2, and you’ll be thankful for this Levitation trick when the fast-travel system isn’t hooked up to your next destination.

Level up your skills

With such an engaging narrative and hundreds of collectibles, it’s entirely possible to forget that you have upgradeable skills in Psychonauts 2. Every time you level up, make sure to dive into your menu and see what upgrades are available. If nothing catches your eye, you can save up your points for a bigger purchase down the line.

When you’re first starting out, we recommend upgrading your Psi Blast and Melee skills — these will make combat much easier and help you quickly progress through the early portions of the game.

Explore your surroundings

Raz runs through a colorful mental palace in Psychonauts 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Beyond Figments, Psychonauts 2 gives you plenty of other reasons to keep an eye on your surroundings. From Emotional Baggage and Nuggets of Wisdom to Memory Vaults and Half-A-Minds, you’ll want to explore every nook and cranny that you stumble upon. Each one is more than worth the effort, as they’ll either help you hit your next Intern Rank or fill your pockets with psitanium.

The Otto Matic is your best friend

While most of your upgrading will be done through the pause screen, don’t forget about the Otto Matic at Psychonauts HQ. This quirky vending machine is loaded with unique ways to make your time exploring brains a bit easier. Pins are one of the main reasons you’ll want to swing by the Otto Matic, as these will provide you with a variety of enhancements to your current roster of skills — or give Raz the ability to dance while you’re idle.

The Otto Matic is also the place where you’ll purchase PSI Challenge Markers and combine them with PSI Challenge Cards. So if you’ve got a bundle of cards burning a hole in your pocket, make sure to give Otto’s vending machine a visit.

Circle back to previous locations

Raz standing in the Motherlobe in Psychonauts 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Early on in your Psychonauts career, you’ll gain access to the Collective Unconscious. This functions as a central hub where you can revisit past locations and missions. And — if you didn’t find every collectible the first time around — it’s well worth your time to jump back in for a second visit. Not only does this give you a chance to discover secret areas you may have missed, but it’s also possible a new skill you’ve picked up in subsequent missions will provide access to previously locked locations.

Enjoy a conversation with NPCs

If you ever find yourself at a loss for what to do next, consider talking with NPCs in the area. Psychonauts is a heavily narrative-driven game, and the folks around you can typically offer hints as to where you need to go next.

Even if they don’t impart any practical wisdom, the characters floating around the Motherlobe have some of the best dialogue you’ll find in any game released in 2021. Take a few moments out of your day to chat with Psychonauts 2‘s quirky cast of characters — there’s little chance you’ll regret it.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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