"You shall engage the enemy in his own mentality! You shall chase his dreams! You shall fight his demons! You shall live his nightmares. And those of you who fight well, you will find yourselves on the path to becoming international secret agents — in other words... Psychonauts! The rest of you... will die!"
Psychonauts (2005) is a well-loved action adventure game from Double Fine Productions, headed by former Lucasarts employee Tim Schafer. It's the story of a young psychic prodigy named Razputin Aquato ("Raz" for short) who runs away from his home in the circus (an inversion of the usual run away tothe circus trope) to sneak into Whispering Rock, a government training camp for child psychics like himself.Raz is quickly caught by the camp's leaders, but he's allowed to stay for a while until his psychic-hating dad will come to take him home again. During his one day of training, he discovers that something horrible is going on: someone is stealing the brains of his fellow campers, leaving them mindless zombies obsessed with teeeeeveeeee and hacky-sacking. As he tracks the brain-stealing scheme to the source, he hones his powers, and encounters a variety of eccentric and downright crazy characters. Raz finds himself forced to literally get into their heads and fight his way through their memories and mental disorders in order to save the world.The platforming aspect of Psychonauts is often made of Bizarchitecture, and some levels — especially the notorious final one — are Nintendo Hard. Luckily, Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: even if Raz loses all of his lives inside someone's mind, the items and events he has already unlocked won't have to be found again.The game is especially notable for its level of detail. Every line of dialogue in Psychonauts is voiced, and every single character has elaborate voiced reactions to virtually every item, ability or situation that Raz can show them. (This is even true for characters who aren't actually around when certain items or abilities are available: hacking the game reveals that the game data has scripted reactions for these things regardless.) Additionally, the majority of characters have their own separate plot lines and interactions, many optional cut scenes, and long, hidden conversations that can be overheard by Raz.Critically praised but initially somewhat poor in sales, Psychonauts is considered one of the great under-appreciated games of its time by many gamers for its unique premise, colorful characters, and humorous dialogue. The game is also praised for its visual style, which owes quite a bit to The Nightmare Before Christmas (the credits theme is notably a loving homage to Danny Elfman) and Invader Zim (including Richard Steven Horvitz playing Raz). Overall, the game presents a very inventive and solid world with virtually every character having a strong personality. In recent years, the game has picked up a lot of new fans, and is now available on Steam.There's a Psychonauts Wiki, the Psycho-pedia at Double Fine.On November 11, 2010, Schafer indicated he was "ready" for a sequel. On February 7, 2012, Markus Persson, the creator of Minecraft, offered to sponsor Psychonauts 2. At first he claimed he was serious, but he has since reconsidered on that offer after being informed on how much money it would cost.Psychonauts was sold as part of the Humble Double Fine Bundle.
Absurdly Spacious Sewer: It's a mental representation of deeply buried (and rather painful) memories of the place where the owner of that particular headspace found and lost the love of his life, includes one high school locker room to boot.
Abusive Parents: Raz thinks there's a pretty solid chance his dad's endless training was an attempt to distract him from his budding psychic powers, if not actually kill him; and further, that his dad hated him for those exact same psychic powers, even though he had psychic powers himself. Ultimately subverted; Raz's father actually loves his son deeply, and the training was to teach him control so that his powers would be more effective, and to give him something to rely on aside from said powers. And he doesn't hate psychics in general; just the ones who cursed his family. A lot of the level progression is done through trapeze and tightropes so it seems that his dad's training actually helped him save the day several times over.
This also appears to be the case with The Butcher, who chopped up Oleander's pet rabbits and claimed they were only good for meat. However, given Razputin's history with his father and the fact that Oleander's image of The Butcher has been twisted over the years into a tremendous, cannibalistic madman (and Oleander's memory of him is the only information we get), it's ambiguous whether he was as bad as it seems.
Gloria's mother, a budding actress, abandoned her daughter at an extremely harsh boarding school for years on end since she, quote, "[had] a career and a boyfriend to worry about." Granted, it is implied that said boyfriend actually manipulated her into making this decision, but that only makes her actions marginally better at best.
According to one of his comments on. Elton's Campster page, it seems that Clem's father isn't that fond of him.
"No, I'm terrible at canoeing. My dad says I'm a total idiot when it comes to canoeing. And most other things. He said he'd rather ride a seal into a pool of sharks than ride in a canoe into a lake with me. Sometimes I wonder if he's right—if I am to stupid for this world."
Kochamara: I have the brain of a little girl back in my lab that'll power a whole army of psychic death tanks! Raz: (starts laughing uncontrollably) Kochamara: What? Raz: You have the brain of a little girl? Kochamara: I said, "in my lab!" Raz: I think you've got the muscles of a little girl too! Kochamara: (groan) ...Good one.
Adults Are Useless: Averted in exactly the sort of setting you'd expect it to be played straight. As noted below, most adults are actually Bunny Ears Lawyers. Even though the adults do the ass-kicking later in the game, Sasha ignored Raz when he tried to tell about Oleander's psychic death tanks because he and the other teachers were in a hurry due to an emergency Psychonaut meeting... which turned out to be a trap laid by Oleander to kidnap the teachers so that they wouldn't interfere with his plans.
Your child running away from home out of resentment and fear of being indirectly murdered by you.
Or, in Sasha's case, your child running away from home for seemingly no reason at all.
Looking into your child's mind, and finding out they see you as a monster.
Dying and leaving your spouse and newborn child behind.
The children in your care dying a fiery death whilst you're out grocery shopping.
Your parent committing suicide, possibly out of being shadowed by your own success.
Regardless of how misguided it ends up being, Raz's personal hell inside the Meat Circus is still undeniably horrifying: being forced to perform a nightmarishly painful and difficult task which will kill you if you fail, while your own father mocks and berates you the entire way, trying to trip you up in the hopes that you will die.
Affably Evil: Doctor Loboto. Even offhandedly commenting to a hostage that he uses his little jokes to put his "patients" at ease. Combine his "jovial family mad doctor" routine with his hideously menacing appearance and the fact that his idea of humor includes stuff that goes way beyond "tickle torture," and you get some of the purest nightmares in a game already loaded with them.
Almighty Janitor: Subverted by Ford Cruller; he plays the parts of all the menial tasks around camp (janitor, burger flipper, ranger, etc.), but he's actually one of the most powerful and respected psychics in the world. The problem is, due to an accident in his past, he can only remember who he is when he's down in his lab. Everywhere else, he thinks he's just another average Joe.
Ambiguously Gay: Benny, particularly on the official character RP MySpace pages. He's obsessed with three things: bullying, musicals, and Bobby.
Franke and Kitty might be a lesbian couple, there's no especially solid evidence for it or to the contrary.
Ambiguous Time Period: The kids talk and act like relatively modern-day kids, but they make references to media and cluture phenomenon from all over the century. The fact that they're all psychic and can, therefore, see things in the future and past, only serves to make it more ambiguous. And if you thought the surprisingly-detailed timeline of Whispering Rock's history you can read in the parking lot will help you, trust us, it won't.
And I Must Scream: The disembodied brains are still fully conscious, as shown in the pre-Meat Circus scene. Though if Sasha and Milla's dialogue is any indication, the stuff they're in kind of sedates you so you don't realize that.
An Aesop: Lampshaded in Sasha's Shooting Gallery at the end.
Raz: So is this where I get a speech and learn another lesson?
Since the 2011 Steam patch, you no longer lose lives if Olly gets caught during the Escort Mission. It's still possibly the hardest part in the game.
If you had any unredeemed brains, cobwebs, etc. before the Point of No Return, there is an NPC at that point who can redeem them all at once for you.
Speaking of the Point of No Return, the game automatically creates a separate autosave just before you cross it, so that you can go back and get any missed collectables without having to restart the entire game.
Apocalyptic Log: Literally; Whispering Rock has its history written out on the rings of a cut-down tree. While it's not this trope in the traditional sense, it still recounts the town's gradual descent into insanity due to the Psitanium deposit, ultimately leading to the place being shut down permanently and replaced with the camp.
Armless Biped: The knife throwers in the Meat Circus. They use their feet instead.
Also in the Gloria's Theater level — you're warned about messing with the mood lighting, and the possible results — utter chaos, etc. ending with "...or worse: Improv."
In the Meat Circus level, Raz's father, confronted with Raz's mental image of him, explains that he doesn't hate psychics or seeing his son happy, and also that he has more hair than that.
Aroused by Their Voice: In the underground cart that works as a quick-travel device, you'll be greeted by a deliberately erotic computerized female voice that will ask him where he wants to go. If the player does not want to go anywhere, Raz will humorously answer that he just dropped by to listen to her voice.
Also appears at some sizes in Waterloo World, although you can't destroy things.
Building up enough psychic charge to create a giant astral projection of yourself is how you beat the Final Boss.
Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Most of the game is actually pretty clean, just subversive, creepy, and/or dealing with extremely mature topics. A lot of its weirdness and can't really be "rated against," but actually making it look like it was for younger kids (when it skews more towards teenagers) would have been... bad. As such, it features a few shoehorned usages of "ass" and a few instances of blood, seemingly to bump the rating.
Bacon Addiction: You summon Ford Cruller with bacon. He loves bacon so much he'll pop out of your ear at the smell of it. He warns you that you shouldn't bring out the bacon in his presence or he'll eat it right there.
Bathos: "The Milkman Conspiracy" level is loaded with this. Almost everyone you meet is a secret agent in some sort of Paper-Thin Disguise (actually, no disguise; they're simply holding different objects: stop signs for a "road crew worker," hedge trimmers for a gardening husband/father, etc.) and the things they say to maintain the facade are usually Played for Laughs. Every once in a while, however, you'll hear them spout a line that would be pretty pathetic, even devastating, in other circumstances. "Over time, my husband will desire me less, sexually," says the rolling pin-toting "housewife." "Why, God? Why?" says the "grieving widow." It all stays relatively light, given the amusing context, but the tragedy subtext is there and it's fairly difficult to miss.
Brain in a Jar: Which you can collect and return to their proper owners. There's even a brief moment in which you play as one of these, no jar included.
Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In the Milkman Conspiracy level, the agents you meet throughout attempt to disguise themselves as, among other things, road workers, widows, and assassins.
There's also the Rainbow Squirts Pledge of Purpose:
Rainbow Squirts: To promote niceness. To make the world prettier. To share candy with everyone. To obfuscate the true nature of the Milkman. To protect the Milkman at all costs. To eliminate all who threaten to reveal his secret objective.
Brick Joke: At the beginning of the Waterloo World level, the carpenter you need to recruit will not come out of his house because he is afraid of a burglar on his roof. Near the end of the level, a peasant you recruit wants to use the musket you give him to "rob that stupid carpenter", whose house he has been trying to break into for days.
Early on in the game, Raz asks Ford if he has a jet hidden around the sanctuary somewhere. In the final cutscene, with Ford being rendered incapable of teleporting everyone to the HQ, Oleander says they'd have to take the jet. Cue jet.
Bullfight Boss: Literally. You dodge the bull and impale it with banderillas once it stops. Though when it turns out that the bull is actually the owner of the headspace the level takes place in, it becomes a matador-fight boss where you have to protect the bull. But you win by convincing the matador that he's actually a bull, and repeating the same tactics you already used, causing a Double Subversion.
The Bully: Bobby Silch, and his friend Benny. They're not the sharpest knives in the box, though...
Because of Raz being a skilled beginner, they want to give him a "special beating", but they never have the chance to do so.
Bungled Suicide: Crystal and Clem tried cyanide, and later jumping. Neither worked.
Butt Monkey: Dogen just can't catch a break, can he? Though, when you think about it, Sasha has it rough too.
Bystander Syndrome: When you save the kids, most of them have better things to do than help you save the world from a battalion of killer psychic death tanks powered by the stolen brains of their fellow campmates. Like make out. Though at least three do try to do something that could be construed as help (one radios for help, but since she's calling aliens that's likely gonna be a bust, while the other two sabotage the coach's car. Which, while useful as a backup plan, does nothing to help you right now).
Camera Screw: Perhaps inevitable in a third person platformer, but most notable during The Meat Circus, where the camera switches angles mid jump several times. And occasionally, it will just get stuck inside an object, forcing a restart.
Cheerful Child: Averted with Clem and Crystal, who are actually suicidal.
Chekhov's Gun: Pretty much everything seen inside the Brain Tumbler. The whole area from the bathtub onward foreshadows Thorney Towers Asylum. The bathtub itself has "Oblongata" written on the side, the name of the lake next to the camp, past it is a tower covered in thorns, and on the floor around the tower are figments shaped like bottles of milk, flowers, a Napoleon hat, and a purple bull. And then there's The World Shall Taste My Eggs!, a bizarre memory vault that explains itself very shortly after finding it.
Also the rabbits which can be seen in Coach Oleander's obstacle course. No matter how much you prod them, they won't run or hide from the pillbox and keep getting mowed down. Further, you are led to the Guns listed above by another rabbit.
Use Clairvoyance on those same rabbits. To them you look like a butcher.
Not to mention the meat plant in the obstacle course which Raz and Lili both mention they saw in their dreams (and the brain tumbler does indeed have meat scattered all over), in addition to figments shaped like butcher knives.
Most of the figments in general.
Lili's cold becomes plot-relevant later on as it renders her immune to the sneezing powder and delays her de-braining operation.
Raz's armored mind comes back up during Meat Circus when his dad struggles to break through to communicate with him. If it wasn't so protected, the entire level might not have happened. Of course, this might also have meant that Oleander would still be evil at the end.
Child Prodigy: Raz was able to obtain all Psychic Powers, cure four mentally ill people, gather all camper's Brains and rebrain them, befriend a sea monster despite his Gypsy Curse, rescue a girl before she became brainless, rescued the teachers from the same fate, facing very creepy images over the course of the adventure and still remain his calm. Over the course of one day. At ten. If this kid isn't Badass, then what is he?
Children Are Innocent: Averted to the moon and back. There's twenty-one Elementary age kids attending Whispering Rock, and just about all of them, including Raz himself, have some understanding adult things like sex, drugs, and/or alchohol. Kids can be found making out all over the place (though we can assume that's as heated as it gets), and one boy casually mentions that his parents let him watch R-rated movies. Justified, however, as many of these kids grew up in less-than-ideal living conditions, and the fact that they are all psychic grants them all the ability to, uh, poke around.
Sasha, who's the only living character who can't be made to giggle with the Crow Feather item — instead, he grumbles about germs.
Boyd's G-men subvert the trope by using a stilted monotone to describe activities they are obviously not doing. As with Sasha, they won't giggle with the Crow Feather. However, they display a paper thin disguise combined with gross incompetence on how they use their items.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: After your mentors are suddenly kidnapped, you can still return into their minds - and they are there, too, but for some reason are nearly helpless.
Way more than that; not only do all the psychic powers in the game get different (and often hilarious) reactions from every NPC, almost every item gets similar reactions. For instance, at one point you need to rescue Sheegor's turtle, Mr. Pokeylope, and if you were playing the game normally you'd probably have him in your inventory for less than a minute. Yet most of the cast has something to say about him.
If you play the game on Steam, you even get an achievement for showing everyone Mr. Pokeylope.
Try using cheats early in the game to unlock the powers you're not yet meant to have. Use said powers on characters who won't be around once you're actually supposed to have the powers and you'll often hear dialog that you would never hear if you played through the game without cheats. The best use for cheats is confusing the G-Men.
"Oh my God. Why am I holding a gun? I hope I haven't killed again."
Try to enter the mind of someone you're not supposed to enter, and there'll be an explanation. Except for Sheegor, but she is one of the most sane characters in the game.
If you turn invisible and attempt to steal Gloria's trophy, you get a different cutscene than if you interacted with the trophy without using your invisibility power.
Normally, Sasha Nein would give you tips on how to defeat the Mega Censor in his mind, but get crushed by the Mega Censor's stamp enough times, and he eventually just devolves into gibberish before finally looping back to recycling tips.
In "Waterloo World", Napoleon explains that all Fred has to do to win is storm Napoleon's stronghold. If you try doing it yourself, Napoleon gets annoyed and clarifies that you have to storm his stronghold with your knight.
Die, Chair! Die!: Among the things you can destroy: pillows, stereo speakers, fruit carts, buildings, stacks of papers, lava lamps, napkin dispensers, watermelons, televisions...
Special mention: Sasha Nein hates Tiffany lamps. "Say something hideous and horrible jumps out at you... Something so disgusting that it simply must die."
Sasha: (covering his eyes and momentarily looking away) So... tacky! ...Can't look directly...at it! ...Now, you simply take that hate, focus, and release! (lamp shatters) And the world is a better place.
It's explained that Sasha worked in a factory that produced Tiffany lamps after he ran away, but before he joined the Psychonauts.
Difficulty Spike: The Meat Circus is insanely difficult compared to the other dozen levels of the game, as Yahtzee Croshaw stated was one of the few flaws in the game.
The 2011 Steam version had an update that made it less frustrating in one regard: you no longer lose a mental layer every time you fail to protect Olly or fall into a Bottomless Pit, just when you lose all your mental health. This dramatically decreases your chances of getting kicked out (especially if you increased your mental health to the maximum by saving everyone's brains and gotten the Regenerating Health by going up to Rank 90), so you won't have to repeat parts you've already beaten near as much.
Dirty Mind-Reading: In one of Sasha's memory reels, it's shows that he learned never to read his father's mind the hard way. He was looking for nice memories of his deceased mother, and he found rather more than he wanted to know.
Driven to Suicide: Crystal and Clem, who attempts to drink poison after you've talked to them for the first time, behind your back. This is extra sad, when taking into account that they're supposed to be the camp's pepping cheerleaders...
Also, Gloria's mother, because of her daughter's success.
Reading the history of the camp reveals that the founder of the insane asylum did this by throwing himself off the top of the asylum's tower.
Dummied Out: Originally there was going to be a subplot involving the nightmares in Milla's mindscape getting loose and abducting campers. Due to time constraints, unacceptable levels of scariness, or the developers realising Milla would never allow her own mind to endanger children, the subplot was dropped - but the bosses weren't, leading a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere during The Milkman Conspiracy. There are still Nightmares in Milla's mind, too, but they're firmly caged and controlled, posing no threat.
DVD Commentary: An iPhone app has been released of the memory vault pictures with an accompanying commentary track, featuring lead Tim Scafer and Scott Campbell, the artist who drew the images.
Dysfunction Junction: Paying enough attention to throw away conversations and memory vaults will make it clear that most of these people are either really messed up or bearing up under horrible past tragedies.
Eagleland: The Milkman Conspiracy. On the outside, it looks like a typical Flavor 1 1950s suburb...Though it's incredibly twisted. It's immediately apparent it's under an obvious yet incredibly creepy Big Brother Is Watching scenario, with government agents dressed in trench coats and fedoras poorly attempting to imitate normal people, trashcans and fire hydrants staring at you, mailboxes walking around, and unusual girl scouts.
Easter Egg: The original protagonist, D'Artagan, who was replaced with Raz for being really hard to render because his hat was too awesome for the engine to render, shows up briefly in the ending. Briefly, as in a one-second appearance. For those who can't find him - at the beginning of the final cutscene, peeking from the outhouse, as Raz is running after Lili.
Crosses the Line Twice: Removing someone's brain? Horrible. Inducing them to sneeze out their brain? Hilarious.
Fluffy the Terrible: A horrific, mutated lake monster — with a deep, thoughtful voice — named Linda. Granted, it wasn't born as a monster.
Follow the White Rabbit: A (mindscape-generated) rabbit acts as something of a guide for Razputin in the first tutorial, leads him to an important clue, and also eventually becomes a central element in an Escort Mission.
In the opening cutscene, when Raz is quoting the Whispering Rock pamphlet, the camera cuts to Oleander staring in awe - then mouthing along - when he reaches the words "your father looks at you with shame in his eyes."
During Basic Braining inside Coach Oleander's mind there are meat-cleavers amongst the imagination figments, which stands a bit out amongst the otherwise military themed figments. Not to mention the bunnies under assault by the turret, or the meat plant Lili calls attention to.
Then you have Oleander talking in his sleep after Basic Braining; he mentions "eggs" (brains) and seems to be talking to a "bunny" (Linda), telling it to be careful with the eggs under the water (Lake Oblongata), give them to "who you know" (Doctor Loboto) and put them in their "holders" (the tanks). Then they'll all see. Who are you callin' short?
Elton talks to the fish about a ghost town and a giant lake monster with glowing eyes and a prehensile lure.
Freudian Excuse: And since the game takes place in peoples' minds, you get to fight it.
And they hit like a Mofo. Especially in the Scrappy Level.
Freudian Trio: Literal example in Gloria's Theater. Becky is Gloria's superego, desperately trying to maintain order and control over Bonita and the rest of the production. The Phantom aka Jasper is her id, constantly trying to derail her. And Bonita Soleil is her ego, the most balanced one.
Friend to All Children: Milla treats all the campers like they're her own, to the point where using Clairvoyance on her shows that she sees Raz as a little baby. This becomes a lot more tragic once you find out about her backstory.
Spoofed. Upon returning to Sasha's mind, Raz is told by Sasha that the "censor overload" incident was all an elaborate training course, knowing that Raz would push the censor deployment rate to maximum against Sasha's advice. Raz, of course, asks if the giant mutant censor that handed Sasha his ass on a platter was all part of the course, too. Sasha is not amused (because it wasn't).
Sasha: Okay, that part got a little bit out of hand...
Gender Reveal: Bonita Soleil. The viewer can determine the gender by triggering reactionary speech (smashing objects, etc), but Raz is still unsettled during conversation for assuming the wrong gender. Although Bonita still might be a woman that sounds like a really gruff man, either way the voice is a reveal in itself.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The Nightmare boss fights in "The Milkman Conspiracy" come entirely out of nowhere and have no explanation for their existence. This is mainly because they're the remnants of a cut sub-plot involving Milla's unresolved issues involving the orphans she used to care for.
Goggles Do Nothing: Raz wears a pair of goggles on his head, and only puts them over his eyes when he enters a person's mind. There's no readily apparent reason for having them at all, though there is a brief mention of them being used as a method of protecting his eyes from rabid conspiracy theorists in the manual.
Lampshaded in the Milkman Conspiracy level, when Raz is captured and interrogated by the Men in Black, one of the things they ask him is "What is the purpose of the goggles?". Later, the boss of the level screams "I'll pluck out your eyes!" and Raz's response is "Ha! You can't! That is the purpose of the goggles!". So the boss shuts off the lights.
Gotta Catch 'Em All: Figments, PSI Cards and Challenge Markers (and as a subset of that, Mental Cobwebs), Scavenger Hunt Items, Emotional Baggage, Memory Vaults and campers' brains are all tracked, and the first four categories are factored into your PSI Cadet Ranking. If you really want to go all out, there's also the ammo/extra life capacity upgrades.
Boyd's stage features a vaguely-enforced "fall towards the ground" gravity system, which will probably kill you more than anything else in the level.
There's even a bit during a few select parts of the tutorial level. Specifically, after you complete the obstacle course with taking cover and the machine gun, what looks like a drop when you jump into the nest instead becomes a hallway...
Kochamara: I have the brain of a little girl back in my lab that'll power a whole army of psychic death tanks! Raz: (starts laughing uncontrollably) Kochamara: What? Raz: You have the brain of a little girl? Kochamara: I said, "in my lab!" Raz: I think you've got the muscles of a little girl too! Kochamara: (groan) ...Good one.
Historical In-Joke: Razputin is a psychic whose cursed to die in water. In real life, Grigori Rasputin was an adviser to the Russian royal family who claimed to be psychic and died drowning. Coincidence?
Waterloo World is almost entirely built out of this trope.
Hidden Depths: Pretty much every character whose minds you jump into.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Oleander's the one who led Raz to the camp in the first place. If he hadn't done so, his plan would have gone off without a hitch. That said, it ended up better for him in the end...
Double hoist: He only let Raz stay to begin with because he was so impressed by Raz' natural psychic prowess that he just had to use it in the plan that it eventually ended up foiling.
Triple hoist: He ends up getting a dose of the sneezing drug he'd been using to extract the campers' brains, and ends up sneezing his own brain out... and it went into the Psychic Tank.
Also, Dingo Inflagrante's defeat is contingent on the confusion grenades that he earlier gave Raz.
Hook Hand: Dr. Loboto. Although in his case, it's more of a 'Peppermill-with-Talons' hand.
Hot-Blooded: A lot of the characters in Waterloo World. You know your army is going strong when a bucket of snails are proud to fight and die for your cause.
Milka, one of the campers, is really skilled at this power. She once stayed invisible three days straight.
Invulnerable Civilians: You can attempt to set fire to your fellow camp mates and the worst that will happen is that they complain about it. It's likely that their own psychic powers suppress your pyrokinesis.
It's Up to You: Used to the point of deliberate absurdity: of the nineteen campers whose brains you recover, none of them are willing to directly help you save the world. Most or all are perfectly capable of helping, they just have better things to do. Like getting pedicures or making out. Aversions:
Maloof and Mikhail sabotage the coach's car. However, it's really only useful in case you fail.
Chops and J.T. patrol the cabins of the campers. Considering that there are telekinetic bears and fire-starting mountain lions, and that the camp counselors who would be keeping them away are all unavailable, that help is definitely necessary.
Joke Item: The crow feather, which can be used to tickle almost everybody (except Sasha, who hates germs and refuses to play along). Using clairvoyance on it helps to solve a puzzle, but it can be solved with luck. Clairvoyance can also be used on it to find out where items for a couple of the Gotta Catch 'Em All quests are, provided that those items are outside and that Raz is standing within mind-range of a crow.
Just a Stupid Accent: Used deliberately in Waterloo World. Napoleon and his toy soldiers have archetypical French accents. Fred Bonaparte's troops all have modern American accents, since Fred is an American, despite the fact that the "game" they're in takes place in a setting very loosely based on Napoleonic-era Europe. Even the Knight, who specifically identifies himself as a Frenchman, only speaks in something like an upper-class New England accent.
The Den Mother really takes the cake though. "And the seas shall run white... with his... RAGE!"
Last Lousy Point: Packing off all the Emotional Baggage and getting all the Scavenger Hunt items? Simple. Tracking down every Memory Vault and Mental Cobweb? Difficult, but doable. Finding every PSI Card and Challenge Marker? Challenging, but at least there's not too many per area. But getting every figment — of which there are hundreds per level, and you have to get them all for 100% Completion — is an exercise in masochism.
Lip Lock: After Bobby kicks Raz off the platform in Basic Braining, he mocks him with some half-singing gibberish while doing a dance. If you watch his lips, it isn't matching what he's saying.
Bobby Zilch: I'm not stupid. You're stupid. The Coach is stupid. This whole camp is stupid! (points behind Raz) That thing flying at you is stupid!
Raz: What thing?!
Bobby Zilch:(kicks Raz off the cliff) Bobby Zilch's foot, that's what! (performs victory dance)
A Load of Bull: El Odio, a creature who is seen tormenting the mental landscapes of an artist named Edgar Teglee (and, incidentally, the player), is definitely a unique example. He's a gigantic, neon-pink bull with a strangely human face and boots on his hooves, and is apparently completely invincible unless you face him in a bullfight. As it turns out, the bull actually ''is'' Edgar, and his constant rampaging represents the anger he refuses to let go of after a tragic series of events back in high school. Naturally, Raz has to help him.
Lobotomy: The appropriately named Dr. Loboto - who is a dentist, by the way - specializes in removing people's brains. Instead of using ice picks, however, he prefers using his own special brand of Pepper Sneeze; one sniff, and you'll sneeze so hard your brain will hit the wall with a splat.
Lost Forever: All mental worlds can be revisited to gather stuff you've missed, so almost no item in those places is Lost Forever. (In fact, gathering items after a level is cleared is usually the better option, because it often means that the monsters are gone too.) However, since all of the (very) extensive dialogue branches depend the situation, it's almost impossible to hear every line of dialogue in the game. A few of the achievements and achievement-related items can be missed, however, such as the "Made Man" achievement and one of the golden helmets. There is a major point of no return, which creates an autosave beforehand.
The Lost Lenore: Strongly implied to be the case with Sasha's parents, the Lenore being his mother.
Love Makes You Crazy: A contributing factor behind Edgar's insanity was losing his high school sweetheart.
Luke, I Am Your Father: A really weird example. The five other acrobats Raz and his father are seen performing with in Raz's vault are actually his other family members: his mother, his older brother and sister, and his younger brother and sister. The fact that he even has a mom or siblings is never even hinted at in-game, which lead fans to speculate for a while before it was finally confirmed by the creators.
Mad Libs Dialogue: A rare example where not only is the trope done well, but it actually makes the dialogue better: Boyd Cooper, a conspiracy nut suffring from paranoid schizophrenia, spends all his time scrawling on things and rambling about some sort of conspiracy that only makes sense in his own depraved head. This affect is done by having his voice actor record a ton of funny dialogue quips that sound like the sort of thing you'd hear when listening to a conspiracy, and then programming them to play at random when the player hears Boyd talk. Not only would you never notice unless you listened for a very long time, but its extremely unlikely you'll ever hear him say the same thing twice, not to mention it does a very good job at making him sound like he's completely insane.
Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Milla sees her students as little children and treats them accordingly. If you use Clairvoyance on her, you can see Raz through her eyes as a very small child. It turns out that she once worked at an Orphanage of Love which was accidentally burned down, and her psychic abilities caused her to hear the thoughts of all the children as they burned to death. She was traumatized as a result. The part of her mind that contains these memories is well-hidden, and she gently tells Raz not to go there.
Missing Mom: Sasha's mother died shortly after he was born.
Raz's mother is never seen or mentioned once. Unless you've read up on Psychopedia, in which case you'd know that the other circus performers shown in his backstory were, in fact, his other family members, one of them being her. She still doesn't play any part in the story, however.
The Napoleon: Coach Oleander, and Napoleon himself. Inverted in Fred Bonaparte, a descendant of Napoleon's, who is extremely tall and has no ambition whatsoever. He also has bizarrely short arms — he appears to be part T-Rex.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Sure, you've gotten Boyd to open the gates... but now he's on a hair trigger: his original, mildly deranged personality has been replaced by another, somewhat more deranged personality, and he's about to blow up the asylum! On the other hand, you really don't care much about the Asylum...
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Gloria's Theater level revolves around finding new scripts and producing a series of plays so Raz can ascend the stage to the catwalks and battle the Phantom, and oddly enough, the first script you find is given to Raz by the Phantom himself, aka Jasper.
Nominal Importance: Everybody has a name. Usually first and last, too. Most of them have defining personality characteristics and flaws.
No Name Given: Almost every character has a first and last name... with the exception of the protagonist himself. Among fans, though, he's generally given the last name of "Aquato" because of the Circus posters seen in flashbacks.
Non Sequitur Thud: "My name is Yon Yonson, I live in Wisconsin, I work in the lumberyard there..."
Noodle Incident: You're given a rough idea, but you never get told precisely what Clem and Crystal were trying to accomplish. The poison? Trying to kill themselves. The rooftop? Trying to kill themselves. Crystal's backstory on Myspace says that she's suicidal; Clem's says that they're no longer allowed to handle sharp implements. It's strongly hinted that they're trying to gain ultimate psychic power by destroying their bodies and setting their spirits free.
And then there's Dogen Boole:
Dogen: And then you make their heads explode. Raz: No! ... Wait, can you do that? Dogen: No! Well once, kinda... actually it was more like four times...but now I wear this special hat. Do you want to try it on?
If you use cheats to get the confusion grenades and use them on the Spies playing assassins, you get this gem:
Assassin:Oh God. Why am I holding a gun? I hope I didn't kill again...
Not Now, Kiddo: Sasha ignoring Raz when he was trying to tell him about Oleander's psychic death tanks
Interactable objects glow with an aqua blue aura or sparkle silvery.
You'll know when you can dig up an Arrowhead when Raz is looking at the purple smoke.
This trope is the only way to find Deep Arrowheads. You can only dig them up when the Dowsing Rod is out and the higher the sound it makes, the easier it is to pull one upnote If your computer is good enough to run it on the highest settings, there's also a distortion effect around the tip of the Dowsing Rod that increases along with the sound. When it's making things nigh-impossible to see, you're right on top of one.
Nerdcore: Adam War Rockdevoted a song to the game, which ends up name-checking most of Tim Schafer's career (and lead artist Scott C.) in the process.
Obviously Evil: Oleander. It gets painfully obvious to the point of lampshade hanging, especially on a replay. The "armored like a tank" and "walking around at midnight" thing, etc. etc. It gets up to a peak when you're back in the ominous evil white hallway, and see that really distinct bunny fresco - then the anvil should hit you.
Some thought he was so over the top that he had to be a Red Herring. Maybe that was the point.
Officially Shortened Title: The full name of the game is The Most Excellent Game Psychonauts, but you'll rarely ever hear it called that.
Offing the Offspring: Raz is clearly terrified of his father, believing that his constant acrobatic training from is actually a plan to kill him and make it look like an accident. In reality, this couldn't be further from the truth.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: At the end of The Milkman Conspiracy, a huge swarm of agents and censors come after the milkman. The Rainbow Squirts go out to confront them while you fight the boss. When the camera shows the outside of the house again, there are dead or unconscious combatants everywhere which suggests that the battle was epic.
Orphaned Series: They wanted to make a sequel, but the fact that it lost Majesco nearly 20 million dollars prevented that from happening. Tim Schafer has expressed interest over the years in continuing the series, but that interest has so far gone unmet due to financial reasons.
Overly Long Gag: The story of the asylum. The Steam version gives out an achievement for actually listening to it.
Vernon's dull, rambling stories, which can literally go on for hours if the player sticks around that long.
Also, This interview with Tim Schafer. Specifically, his response to the first question.
Palette Swap: The four Luchadors in Velvetopia are all the same basic character model with different paint jobs. They even have the same moveset, except for the special attacks.
Panty Shot: It's possible for Raz to see up Milla Vodello's dress. She's not wearing underwear. Her legs end at the upper thigh.
After Milla's level and before revisiting Sasha, Lili can be seen in the Kids' Cabin area, on top of one of the poles surrounded by speakers. It's very easy to see up her skirt there. Or you can just lift her up using telekinesis.
Raz uses them to get past the MIB, just picking up a rolling pin makes you appear to them as a housewife. Also a literal example, when Raz uses a painting of Loboto and a few other props to sneak past near-sighted Crispin.
Plot Coupon: Very blatant at the ground floor of the asylum. The only way past an unarmed orderly guarding the elevator is to get a trophy, a straitjacket and a painting to use as a disguise, and there is only one of each item that can be used, and you need to clear a full level before you're allowed to take it? You'd think a boy who can turn invisible and set fire to things with his mind could get past some other way. At least the levels you need to play are a lot of fun.
Double Subverted: Fred, the mind behind Waterloo World, has a history with Crispin, the "orderly" guarding the elevator. When you complete Waterloo World and get Fred's straitjacket, Fred offers to take care of Crispin, which would remove the need to collect the other two items. Unfortunately, he's so exhausted from fighting with his now gone alternate personality, he decides to have a nap first, and doesn't wake up until you're already past Crispin via the Plot Coupon route.
Poor Communication Kills: All the problems between Raz and his father would have been resolved if they had just communicated better.
The Power of Love: At the end of the game, Raz has to face down against his own personal demon: a gargantuan Eldritch Abomination that represents his fear and hatred of his father. Before he entering the fray, however, his actual father enters the picture, and the two of them have a talk that ends with them making up. After telling him that he's strong enough to take control of his own mind, he then uses his own psychic powers to give his son a power boost. Cue aCurb-Stomp Battle.
Raz does wonder why they're attacking him inside his own mind at one point. Or, for that matter, why Sasha's Censors attacked him inside his own mind. (The first one is because by that point, Raz isn't in his own mind at all. The second is because you're using an experimental procedure to project yourself into your own head.)
Puppy Love: Despite being ten years old, Raz and Lili end up kissing twice. At some points in the game you can watch/catch other children making out, making it pretty blatant that they're not the only couple.
Pyro Maniac: Boyd seems to be a harmlessly nuts conspiracy theorist when you first see him, but when you crack the other vault in his mind, it's revealed that he was sent to an asylum after he burned down his old workplace for firing him. Also, at the end of his level Raz releases the arsonist part of his personality again, when he is a hair trigger away from burning the Bedlam House he now guards. Fortunately, once that's done, the persona is exorcised and he seems much more collected.
Also, Phoebe. Using Clairvoyance to see yourself through her eyes reveals that she sees Raz as an unlit campfire.
The dancers in Milla's Dance Party have limbs, but they taper off before connecting to the body.
Jasper Rolls' head also detaches from the body, but it's usually in a position where it seems attached.
Reality Is Out to Lunch: Provides the trope image, and appropriately so; once Raz has entered a mind, pretty much any lapse of logic or physics can occur hassle-free.
Recurring Riff: A phrase from the game's theme shows up in many places in its music.
Recursive Reality: In the Asylum, you can go inside Fred's mind to find him playing a board game with Napoleon. Then, you can jump on the board to find a whole living world controlled by the rules of the game. Then, you can look in the window of a house to find... wait for it... Fred playing a board game with Napoleon.
It's not just any board game, either. Before you jump into the board game you can look out through the window to see the walls of the board game sitting on the table!
Coach Oleander was never actually drafted in the army due to his short stature. He just made that memory up out of shame. Also, he's the Big Bad. Also also, he had an emotionally abusive father.Maybe...
Seeker White Blood Cells: Although it's not a physical example, Censors are a mental equivalent. Censors roam the psyche and censor out anything that doesn't belong, including hallucinations, paranoias... and visiting Psychonauts. In fact, one of the first signs that Boyd's mind isn't doing so well is that there are no Censors whatsoever in there.
Dog: Yeah, maybe you can write it off in your taxes as a loss. A catastrophic loss, even!
Sequel Hook: There were actually multiple hooks - the head of the Psychonauts being kidnapped and Raz's father warning him about the rival family of evil psychics he's been trying to protect Raz from. Unfortunately there seems little chance for those to be explored, what with the miserable sales figures, though Schafer has said he would love to do one.
Serious Business: As you can see from the page quote, Coach Oleander takes summer camp very seriously.
She Is Not My Girlfriend: Usually played straight, but subverted at least once. When Raz is looking for Lily inside the fish's mind, and he is asked if "Lily is your girlfriend?", his answer is a sincere "I don't know."
Ship Tease: In one of Milla's memory reels, she's on top of Sasha Nein (assumably fallen on top of him), and they both have flustered looks on their faces.
After you get your oarsmen badge, Crystal and Clem are contemplating suicide on top of the lodge. Crystal says something along the lines of "we're going to become so powerful, aren't we?" Clem responds, "More powerful than you could possibly imagine."
Phoebe and Quentin's Band The Firestarters is a reference to the Stephen King novel Firestarter. It's about a 7-year-old-girl that can start fires with her mind.
Raz: First question: What do you think the Queen is drinking right now? Second question: What was your favorite science-fiction mini-series in the eighties?
In one of Fred's memory reels we can see him looking at the mirror and seeing Napoleon instead of his own reflection. Suddenly Napoleon jumps out of the mirror and tries to strangle Fred, a la Evil Dead 2, when Ash hallucinates his own reflection choking him.
Spexico: Black Velvetopia, oh so very much. Lets see: We have Toros y Flamenco, Spanish architectural style, Mexican sombreros, and Masked Luchadores. Justified, since Edgar has actually probably never been to anywhere Spanish-speaking, and it's all one big symbolic fantasy of his creation.
A lot of levels have snippets meshed with the background music based on the level's theme. For example, Sasha's level has a few measures of Eine kleine Nachtmusik and Raz and Oleander's shared level features a few rhythms from Orpheus in the Underworld.
Sure, Let's Go with That: Ford doesn't bother to correct Raz's guess as to why he goes around acting as everything from the camp coordinator to the janitor.
Surprise Creepy: The game gets progressively darker as time goes on, particularly once night falls and Raz heads for the asylum. Milla's level has a self-contained example: it's probably the brightest, happiest mental space in the game, until you find the hidden area with the memories of the destroyed orphanage.
Take That: The, ahem, censors which serve as your default mooks. They dress up in stereotypical suits, wear overly large glasses and all their attacks consists of different ways of saying "No." Given the fact that you mercilessly beat them up in hordes and the amount of crap that gets past in this game there is no way this is coincidence.
Televisually Transmitted Disease: The four residents of the asylum have pretty Theme Park examples of paranoid schizophrenia (Boyd), bipolar disorder (Gloria), Dissociative Identity Disorder (Fred), and a combination of obsessive compulsive disorder/chronic depression (Edgar).
There Are No Therapists: Despite being an insane asylum, though abandoned, there are four psychologically hurt patients there who get no help from anyone, and probably wouldn't if you hadn't come.
Pretty much every camper, including Raz himself, could use a little therapy. Maybe its not provided to psychics?
Through the Eyes of Madness: Many of the minds you explore belong to people who are not entirely there. Boyd is a particularly noteworthy example, as you need to use your clairvoyance ability on him in order to see the world as he sees it and help figure out his psychosis.
Timey-Wimey Ball: Maloof claims that the staff haven't thrown any kids in the Geodesic Psychoisolation Chamber since the fifties, but according to the tree cutting in the parking lot, the camp was opened less than a decade ago. Given Milla's seventies-party-girl flair, it doesn't seem like it's possible for both statements to be true.
Tough Love: Raz's father. Unlike most examples of this trope, he's not even all that mean or callous toward his son. The countless hours of strenuous acrobat training that he forced on him were simply done to keep him safe from the world around him.
Tsundere: Lili is very much a Western version of this trope.
Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers, back of the box, and the summary for the Steam store page all mention the fact that someone removes Raz's campmates' brains.
Trailers Always Lie: Said trailers also said "the councilors have something to hide"; implying the camp itself was a front for the aformentioned brain thefts.
The Unfought: Doctor Loboto; you don't get to even enter his mind. He just gets pushed off the the top of Thorney Towers by a tank piloted by the talking turtle disguised as a human brain.
Unreliable Narrator: One twist that happens late into the game is the revelation that Raz's father isn't anything like his son describes him to be. Raz believes that his father hates psychics, despite being psychic himself, and has been training him in acrobatics either to stamp the powers out of him or kill him, whichever came first. This is in no way close to the truth, Raz just severely misinterpreted his actions.
Victory Pose: Done via a strange hold-your-hand-out-like-a-chicken (Egyptian walk?) and walking around in a circle while saying "Erh, eh-erh! Eh-eh, eh-erh!" It was originally Bobby Zilch's pose. Raz co-opted it.
Walk on Water: The Levitation power should let you do this, but Raz's curse prevents him from doing so.
What the Hell, Player?: Quite aggressively so — every NPC has a unique reaction to just about every psychic power. Some reactions to psychic powers require cheating to see. Just about every object gets a unique reaction, too. Trying every power and item with every possible NPC and object is vastly rewarding.
If you punch a girl scout in The Milkman Conspiracy, "Why did you punch that little girl?" will be added to the list of questions you're asked when captured and interrogated.
Where The Hell Is Springfield?: Whispering Rock could really be located in any old forest. Most of the campers have American accents, so its most likely in the United States, but there are very few clues pointing to anything more specific.
Wise Beyond Their Years: At age ten, Raz was able to cure four people from their insanity, and he did that by jumping into their minds and talking to their subconscious mental figments, representing the patient's psychological issues, in the most encouraging and most gentle way possible. Did we mention that all these people are adults?
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Played With in the form of the psychoactive material Psitanum; it'll either give you incredible power or drive you insane. The rules on how and why this happens is left rather vague, though it is implied that your chances of becoming more powerful increase significantly if you're already psychic.
Womb Level: The Meat Circus, in a sense. You're not inside anybody, but you're certainly surrounded by a lot of raw flesh.
Raz: How can I say this and still sound cool... Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never... hurt me?
World of Chaos: All the Mental Worlds are strange, but the only two that can truly be described this way are the Milkman Conspiracy and the Meat Circus. The former since it takes place in the mind of the most mentally broken character in the game, and the latter because it takes place in a mishmash of two different minds.
Writers Cannot Do Math: It's vague at best, but the Whispering Rock timeline would seem to indicate that the inmates of the abandoned insane asylum have been there for fifty years. With nothing to eat, drink, or clean themselves with.
Yandere: Elka is... kinda nuts about relationships.
Your Head A Splode: Dogen did this to someone once. Four someones. Allegedly. He definitely did it to three squirrels who were saying the little guy would kill everyone. By little guy, they meant Oleander.