Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin: A Strong Case For VR Point-And-Click Adventure Games | A Short Pause Review
The rise in popularity of VR gaming over the last few years has brought with it some amazing experiences — and some not so amazing ones. It's become apparent that not every game genre translates well when brought into the VR space. One game genre that has not received much love in VR, as of yet, is the point-and-click adventure. However, Tim Schafer and the crew at Double Fine Productions are here to change all of that by bringing the zany action of the Psychonauts to PlayStation VR and, in doing so, they have demonstrated what a point-and-click adventure game should look like in the virtual world.
Tale of the Tape
Title: Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Platforms: PlayStation VR
Psychonauts in The Rhombus of Ruin picks up where the original game left off. You play as Razputin Aquato on your first official mission as a member of the Psychonauts, a team of telepathic secret agents. When the Grand Head of the Psychonauts — Truman Zanotto — is kidnapped, Raz and his clairvoyant clan are tasked with rescuing their leader. Unfortunately, Zanotto's location is somewhere within the Rhombus of Ruin, a geometrically-shaped section of ocean that is notorious for the mysterious disappearance of planes and ships (not to be confused with the Bermuda Triangle). As I indicated earlier, Rhombus of Ruin plays like a first-person point-and-click adventure — unlike the original Psychonauts, which was more of an action-platforming affair. This time around, you interact with the world as Raz in first-person, but a major game mechanic revolves around using your psychic powers to enter the minds of other characters so you can see the world through their eyes.
As Razputin, you have a number of different abilities that you can use to solve puzzles throughout this two-hour adventure. You can use telekinesis to move things with your mind, or pyrokinesis to set objects ablaze. Your Psi Blast ability allows you to fire a concentrated beam of psychic energy, and Clairvoyance is the name for the aforementioned power that allows you to inhabit the minds of other people and animals. Finally, you can use Psi Poke to... poke things. I thought the Clairvoyance ability was a particularly clever way to eliminate motion sickness in a VR environment. In the same way that Batman: Arkham VR uses warp points to move around a room, Razputin's Clairvoyance power allows you to view the room from different angles without actually walking around. In addition, you are still able to use your other powers when inside the mind of another character. In the course of your mission, you use those powers to flip switches, push buttons, catch eels, toss fleas, detonate bombs, or any number of other madcap actions the game requires to escape the dangerous situations in which you find yourself.
As is the case with all Double Fine games, Rhombus of Ruin has a great sense of humor, which is apparent not only in the spoken dialogue, but also in the music, the animation, and the visual style. For example, the adventure is bookended by opening and closing credit sequences that are very reminiscent of a James Bond movie, complete with a signature tune featuring hilarious lyrics written by Tim Schafer himself (e.g. "You'll stick like glue in the Rhombus of Ruin ... 'cause trouble is brewin' so don't put your shoe in").
My biggest complaint with Psychonauts in The Rhombus of Ruin — besides the fact that I wish there was more of it — has to do with some of the spoken dialogue. I don't mind when an adventure game offers subtle clues when you are struggling with a particular puzzle. However, Raz and his cohorts seem to be a little too anxious to offer hints if you don't immediately do what the game intends you to do. There is no way to turn off the hint feature, either. Also, there were some occasions where the same line would be repeated multiple times while trying to figure out the next step in the puzzle. At one point, while trying to solve a block-sliding puzzle, Lily Zanotto (Raz's girlfriend) keeps saying things like, "Keep going, Raz!" and "Almost there, Raz!" I'm all for positive reinforcement, but she said those same lines so often that it became frustrating, and I had to mute the spoken dialogue for a time — at least until I finished that puzzle. Those minor complaints aside, I liked the characters and the dialogue throughout the rest of the game.
Although it's a very brief experience, I enjoyed my time with Psychonauts in The Rhombus of Ruin. The game has a good sense of humor, some interesting puzzles, and it made me excited for the prospects of what a fully-fledged point-and-click adventure game could be like in virtual reality. If you're a Psychonauts fan, you'll definitely love this entry in the series, but even if you aren't, there is still a lot of fun to be had with this title.
We reviewed 'Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin' on PlayStation VR using a review code provided to us by the fine folks at Double Fine Productions.
- Amusing narrative and characters
- Cool puzzles
- Razputin's powers are fun to use
- Some repetitive dialogue
- Wish it was longer