PS2, Xbox, PC / THQ / Double Fine
9/10 (Tom), Game page
Kieron: I mean this in the very best way, but I like Psychonauts the more time passes since I completed it. During the actual play there were all too many moments when the occasionally iffy design - some platforming mishaps, some grotesque difficulty spikes - downgraded my pleasure. But those transitory pains have become gossamer-thin and difficult to recall compared to the grand expanse of constant ingenuity and brilliance of the rest of the game. In some ways, this makes it exactly like the Lucasart adventures. When we think of Monkey Island II, we don't recall the Monkey Wrench puzzle of whatever screen-punching torment the designers thought would be a good idea at the time. We just remember the wit and imagination.
And put it another way: Some games are made for the play - returning to an online shooter, a casual obsessing with Lumines, whatever. Others are made to be played, completed and then remembered. And when you remember Psychonauts, you'll just remember the absolute fearless commitment to saying something new through the classical medium of the exploratory platform game. Yeah, everyone says it's funny - and it's probably responsible for bigger laughs than anything on this list other than Boiling Point's flying Jaguars. But it's also terribly emotional, with an understanding of how Level Design can be used for sharp irony (The discovery of the secret room in an Agent's otherwise upbeat disco-world) or poetry (the fluorescent city beneath an enormous crying card, where a character's lost love rains rose-bud tears) or blank cruel satire (The entirety of "the Milkman Conspiracy").
So, no, for me personally Psychonauts isn't the game of the year. But there's part of me that's aware that in twenty years time, if you ask me about 2005, it very may well be.
Jim: Psychonauts is astonishing. It's imaginative in a way that puts almost all other games to shame. To miss out on this is like missing the point of gaming entirely. It's not out until February 2006 in the UK, which is probably because God hates us all, or something.
Martin: We really want Schafer to produce a Grim Fandango-style adventure, but I'd be prepared to settle for this wonderful bit of story-telling with platforming goodness.
Kristan: Funniest game I've played in years. Can't wait to play it properly when I review the long-delayed PAL version next month. Tim Schafer, I salute you. When's the sequel to Day of The Tentacle coming again?
Tom: I still remember the evening I discovered this. I kept turning around to demand that Kristan stop working and watch me play it. I remember sneaking around everywhere listening to everyone talk, then talking to them to get more out of them. The further I got into it, the more astonishingly good it became. Some of the levels... I don't even want to talk about them. I really don't. I don't want to rob you of one line of dialogue or one moment of realisation. The fact that it's not out over here until next year pretty much sums up the European games industries. But hey, you can buy it direct from Double Fine's website on PS2, Xbox and PC.
John: It seems to be the Way of Things that the very best games are those that no one buys. In the case of Psychonauts, it seems there's a conspiracy to endlessly delay its European release, ensuring it vanishes into unbought obscurity. It is your DUTY to defy this idiocy, and buy a copy at all costs.
This isn't just a funny platform game. This is a sophisticated work of complex emotion. It's also a really funny platform game. It's a game you can quote to your friends, reminisce about in the pub, and go back to over and again. It is truly the best game of the year, and yet knowing you, you'll never get around to playing it. I hate you.