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Video Game: Psychonauts

"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 to the 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.


This game provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

     A-D 
  • 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.
    • 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."
  • Academy of Adventure: Well, summer camp, anyway.
  • Action Bomb: Both the personal demons and those danged rats in the tower.
  • 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.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Your child running away from home out of resentment and fear of being indirectly murdered by you.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • All-Cheering All the Time: Crystal and Clem, who deliver pretty much all their lines in cheer form.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Edgar's ex-girlfriend was a cheerleader.
    • Oddly enough inverted with Edgar's girlfriend as well, who dumped the large and manly Edgar to go out with the MALE cheerleader captain.
  • All There in the Manual: The supporting characters have expanded backstories and personalities on "Campster" and the official wiki.
  • Alpha Bitch: Elka Doom.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population
  • Ambiguously Gay: Benny, particularly on the official character RP MySpace pages. He's obsessed with three things: bullying, musicals, and Bobby.
  • 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?
    Sasha: No. Here is your merit badge. Let Us Never Speak of This Again.
  • Antagonist: Coach Oleander.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • 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.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Oleander's shortness led to him not being allowed in the Army. Or the Navy. Or the Air Force. Or cooking school.
    • 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.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: In Lungfishopolis, Raz becomes GOGGALOR! Lungfishopolis is a giant spoof of Kaiju films, right down to the bad English dubbing.
    • 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 and/or creepy. A lot of its weirdness 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.
  • Badass Adorable: Lili has obtained all psychic badges by the time Raz's shows up, and she is really cute. At least by the game's standards.
  • Badass Grandpa: Ford. Especially in the showdown against Oleander.
  • Bad Bad Acting: The 'Actors' in Gloria Van Gouten's mind. SO much.
  • 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.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Rather the point of the game.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Especially when they're telekinetic bears.
  • Bedlam House: The Asylum level.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Raz and Lili in the beginning. They eventually warm up to each other, however.
  • Berserk Button: An actual button you receive early in the game. Show it to Elka Doom repeatedly.
    Raz: Hey look at this button I found on Nils' bunk. It looks like it came off a girl's dress!
    Elka: (loud gasp) ...I don't care.
    Raz: Looks like it was pulled off by force!
    Elka: I don't care.
    Raz: It's got little teeth marks on it...
    Elka: RAZ, GET THAT THING OUT OF MY FACE BEFORE I SHOVE IT IN YOUR EYE SOCKET AND SEW IT TO YOUR BRAIN!
  • Big Bad: Coach Oleander
    • Bigger Bad: Oleander's dad, his cooking Oleander's bunnies is one of the roots of his psychosis
  • Big "Shut Up!": Raz says "Shut up!" "Shut up!" "Shut up!" to the cheerleaders urging him on to victory in the Punching Game in Basic Braining in the same rhythm as their cheers.
  • Bindle Stick: Raz is seen with one in a memory reel flashback, even though he already has a backpack. It's a visual cue to let you know he's a runaway at that point.
  • Bizarchitecture: The asylum starts going all M.C. Escher on you near the top.
  • Black Bug Room
  • Black Comedy: All over, but Waterloo World most obviously.
    Peasant: Hurl my innocent bones into the cruel machine of war. I'm ready!
  • Blatant Lies: Anything the G-Men say in the Milkman Conspiracy.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: A ballet bording school in Gloria's backstory.
  • 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.
  • Brainwashed
  • 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.
  • Broken Bird: Most characters to some extent, but especially Milla Vordello.
  • 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.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Milla, Sasha, and Ford. In fact, almost every adult in the game.
  • But Thou Must: Parodied. Trying to tell Ford you're not ready only results in him slapping Raz upside the head and saying: "How about now?"
  • 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).
  • Calling Your Attacks: Parodied with Kochamara.
    • "Overly Intricate ...Combination!"
    • "Hard-to-Avoid ...Area Attack!"
  • 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.
  • Canada, Eh?: Chops even pulls out a few Canada-isms.
  • Captain Obvious: The secret agents from The Milkman Conspiracy.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Augustus Aquato, Raz's dad. Or at least, the version of him in Raz's mind.
    "Man, do I hate psychics...and seeing my son happy!"
  • Caustic Critic: The Critic from Gloria's Theatre.
  • 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?
  • Circus Brat: Raz.
  • Circus of Fear: The Meat Circus.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Chloe, who believes she's an alien from the outer space, and has contact with the space armada.
    • Dogen can be this too sometimes.
  • Cobweb Of Disuse: Parts of people's minds which haven't been accessed in a long time are blocked by "mental cobwebs" which you need to buy a specific piece of equipment to clear.
  • Collection Sidequest: Let's see, you have the...
    • PSI cards.
    • Challenge markers.
    • Scavenger hunt.
    • Figments of imagination (which are particularly irritating, since there are literally hundreds and they're semitransparent, making them hard to spot).
    • Emotional baggage.
    • Cob webs.
    • And all the campers' brains.
    • There are also the Ammo/Mental Layer Increase Trophies, but they're not included in 100% Completion.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: When Raz gets Pyrokinesis:
    Ford: You have to promise only to use this when it's really important, or really really entertaining.
  • The Comically Serious:
    • 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.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Boyd. Based on a real person Tim Schafer knew.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: Most of Black Velvetopia. Curse you, El Odio!
  • Cowboy: J.T.
  • Creepy Monotone: The agents in The Milkman Conspiracy, hilariously.
    Agent: I am a grieving widow. Why, God. Why.
    • Also, Vernon.
  • Cute and Psycho: Secretly dysfunctional male/female cheerleading duo, Clem and Crystal. Though their brains get stolen before they pull off whatever it was they were planning.
  • Damsel in Distress: One major plot point in the game is to save Raz's Love Interest Lili.
  • Depraved Dentist: Doctor Loboto. He became so obsessed with yanking out teeth, he wound up yanking out people's brains.
  • Development Gag: When Raz first sneaks into the camp, Oleander guesses that his name starts with "D". The previous protagonist, scrapped in development, was named D'Artagan.
    • You can also see D'Artagan in the final cutscene, hiding out in the latrine.
  • Deuteragonist: Lili Zanotto.
  • 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?!"
    • 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.
  • Dialogue Tree
  • 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.
    • There's also the soldier whose father was killed by a bridge.
  • 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.
  • Directionally Solid Platforms: Trampolines act like this in a few places.
  • 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.
  • Disco Dan: Milla.
  • Don't Explain the Joke
    Raz: Hey, Bobby. Someone's stealing kids' brains!
    Bobby: Well in that case, you've got nothing to worry about! Ah-ha-ha-ha!
    Raz: ...Good one.
    Bobby BECAUSE YOU GOT NO BRAINS!
    Raz: (sighs in frustration)
  • Dissimile: "We've fought monsters like you before, Goggalor! Only much smaller!"
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Coach Oleander.
  • 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.
  • 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.

     E-H 
  • 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.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk: Most of the children have some form of insanity.
  • The Electric Slide: Raz does it at one point.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: For the final, two-headed boss, Raz's dad lends Raz his psychic powers in order to protect his mind.
  • Empty Eyes: When all the campers are debrained.
  • Escort Mission: A brief optional one early in the game, plus the final platforming section.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Vodello gets you to make the hoops spin by passing through them in order to "lighten up the party".
  • Falling Into His Arms: In one of Milla's memory reels, Sasha catches Milla in this fashion after they escape from an exploding building. They both look quite happily flustered.
  • Fantastic Racism: It's heavily implied, both with Coach Oleander's opening monologue and Raz's fear that his father wants to kill him, that prejudice against psychics is all too common.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The whole brain-sneezing thing just can't be pleasant.
    • 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.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • 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.
  • Forgot About the Mind Reader:
    • Raz overhears Lili's thoughts.
    • Played with, since the last time, she intended for him to hear them.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Everyone except Raz and his father.
  • 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.
  • Gambit Roulette:
    • 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...
  • Gainaxing: Lampita Pasionado.
  • 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.
    • Linda.
  • Gentle Giant: Linda.
  • Germanic Depressives: Chronically Comically Serious Sasha.
  • 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.
  • Gimmick Level: Almost all of them.
  • Girl in the Tower
  • Girl Scouts Are Evil: The Rainbow Squirts from "The Milkman Conspiracy", who are guarding the Milkman so he can bomb the asylum when the time comes.
  • Go Among Mad People: When in the asylum.
  • 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.
  • Gravity Screw
    • Sasha's stage features planetary gravity.
    • 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...
  • Purple Rocks: Psitanium.
  • Grind Boots: Raz can grind on anything. Even wooden railings and telephone wires.
  • Guide Dang It: Certain sections can be trying. Thankfully using the summoning bacon can provide some helpful advice.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: MEAT GRINDER BUNNIES. To be more specific, bunnies thrown into a meat grinder, torn to pieces, then reassembled into...hideous, loping things.
  • Harsh Word Impact: The Phantom/Critic uses this as a weapon.
  • Hartman Hips: Milla Vodello - exaggerated because of the thin torso and neck.
  • Hearing Voices: While not in the insane manner, in the last level there are ghostly voices repeating your name now and then. It's Raz's father trying to get him to allow him into his mind.
  • Heart Container: The brains found in the later part of the game.
  • Heh Heh, You Said X:
    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.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Lili.
  • 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.
  • 100% Completion: Damn do you have to work for it.
    • The recently-added "Math is Hard" achievement is so named because you can get to Psi Cadet ranking of 101.

     I-L 
  • Idle Animation: They vary from level to level, and can involve everything from bowing to rolling out invisible pie crusts to dancing enthusiastically. And they occasionally cause Raz to walk on air.
  • The Igor: Sheegor, a female and obviously The Woobie during her brief appearance.
  • I'll Kill You!: Napoleon's soldier.
  • In Case of Boss Fight, Break Glass: The brain-powered psychic tank is defeated by flinging chunks of concrete at the glass dome shielding the final boss's brain.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Subverted: The fact that Lili had a head cold was the only thing between her and Doctor Loboto's magical brain-sneezing powder.
  • Indian Burial Ground: Subverted:
    Franke: The camp is built on an Indian Burial Ground and -
    Raz: Oh my gosh! Indians buried their dead here?!
    Franke: Ewwww! I hope not. No, stupid, they buried their arrowheads here.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Played straight with Oleander, and to some extent Edgar and Gloria, but averted with the rest.
  • Instant Roast: Killing various critters (birds, squirrels, etc.) with Pyrokinesis turns them into miniature roasts which restore health.
  • Interface Screw: When hit with a confusion grenades (or similar effect), the screen is flipped horizontally. It also randomizes your psi powers, even switching to those you didn't have selected.
  • In-Universe Game Clock
  • Invisibility: One of the available Psychic Powers.
    • 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.
  • Ironic Name: Raz's last name is Aquato, but his family doesn't take to water too well.
  • Ironic Nickname: Benny "The Nose." Have you seen the size of his ears?
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Constantly.
  • 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.
    • Chloe tries to help by using the coach's radio in an attempt to contact aliens. However, if you talk to her again, you find out that she thinks that Earth is doomed and she's just looking for a ride out.
    • 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.
  • Jerk Jock: Bobby Zilch.
  • 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.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: The basic premise of the game.
  • 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.
  • Justified Tutorial: Basic Braining.
  • KidAnova: Nils Lutefisk, though it might be all talk.
  • Kill It with Fire: One of your standard psychic powers. Target the squirrels and seagulls. Also, Boyd's reaction to being fired.
  • La Résistance: In Lungfishopolis, "For Freedom!"
  • Large Ham:
    • Coach Oleander.
    • 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.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Sasha, at the end of his stage.
  • 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)
  • 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.

     M-P 
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Loboto, although he's a dentist.
    • Also Sasha, to a lesser extent. "If I could only get him (Raz) in my lab, I'm sure he could withstand more than the others."
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The cougars have pyrokinesis, bears have TK Claws, and the psychic death tanks have confuse grenades.
  • Man Behind the Man: Coach Oleander is the one behind Loboto's plot.
    • Whose identity is revealed unusually early for this trope. A far better kept reveal is the true source of Oleander's insanity: the Butcher.
  • The Men in Black: The hilariously inept, robotic undercover agents in The Milkman Conspiracy.
  • Meaningful Name: See "Punny Name" below.
  • Metaphorgotten: "It's like looking at the site of a horrible car accident! A car accident where the victims can't act, and the paramedics forget their lines!"
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read:
    • Sasha Nein's second mental vault, and possibly other things in the game.
    • Milla's personal nightmare room, where visions of monstrous ashen ghosts whisper her name and ask why she did not save them.
  • Mind over Matter
  • Mind Rape: Averted. Raz enters people's minds to help them.
    • Played straight with Linda, who was possessed by Coach Oleander by the time she was attacking.
  • Mind Screw: The World Shall Taste My Eggs!
    Raz: Okay...what the hell was that?
  • 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.
  • Mission Control: Ford Cruller, who's also the Old Master and The Obi-Wan.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: In the level that named the trope, the conspiracy is actually about a milkman, but of eight-year-old girls.
  • Mood-Swinger: Gloria, one of the mentally ill patients at the Asylum. The mission is even called "Help Gloria control her mood swings".
  • Most Definitely not a Spy: "I am a phone repairer. I can listen to any phone conversations I wish, but do not do so out of my sense of professional responsibility."
  • Mundane Utility: Sasha uses his psychic abilities to light his cigarette and hold it to his lips without using his hands.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Coach Oleander, as you can see from the opening quote, takes summer camp way too seriously.
  • Murder Water
  • 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.
  • Napoleon Delusion: Fred Bonaparte's Split Personality. Bonus points for Fred actually being a descendant of Napoleon himself.
  • 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.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed - The bulldog in Black Velvetopia / Christopher Walken
  • No Fair Cheating: "Yooooouuuuu cheated!". Napolean also does not permit cheating in Waterloo world. He tells Raz not to touch his pieces, his soldiers tell you that using PK on them is cheating if you talk to them, and he won't accept victory if Raz tries jumping in the stronghold directly. Yet, he jams the gate mechanism when you're about to win.
  • 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-Lethal Bottomless Pits: The good news about Raz's Super Drowning Skills is that he doesn't normally lose a life from them.
  • 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...
  • Notice This:
    • 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 .
  • Nerdcore: Adam War Rock devoted a song to the game, which ends up name-checking most of Tim Schafer's career (and lead artist Scott C.) in the process.
  • Not So Different: Raz and the main villain both have daddy issues. This turns out to be a very, very bad thing when they have a Battle in the Center of the Mind.
  • 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.
    • Also, Jasper. Lampshaded in the cutscene before:
    Raz: ...I totally guessed that!
    Actress: Nuh-uh! You said it was Becky!
  • Oedipus Complex: Raz, Sasha and Oleander all have some serious father issues. In fact, the final boss is a monstrous amalgam of Raz and Oleander's nightmarish versions of their fathers.
  • Official Couple: Raz and Lili.
  • Officially Shortened Title: The full name of the game is The Most Excellent Game Psychonauts, but you'll rarely ever hear it called that.
  • 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.
  • Oh, Cisco!: The 100% Completion bonus video ends with a really weird one of these.
  • Only Sane Man: Compared to the crazy people and stuff that happens, Raz is the sanest of the bunch. That is, until you find out about his own issues in Meat Circus...
  • Out of Focus: While Linda and the campers show up in the animated bumpers for MTV 2 and G4, none of the adults in the game appear at all.
  • 1-Up
  • Orphanage of Love: Milla's old job. Before it burned down.
  • Overly-Long Gag: The story of the asylum. The Steam version gives out an achievement for actually listening to it.
    • 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. Milla's 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.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
  • Parental Abandonment: Subverted. Despite being the main character of a video game, both of Raz's parents are around, and he even has an assortment of brothers and sisters he lives with.
  • Pass Through the Rings: When learning levitation. Repeated in the Meat Circus with flaming hoops.
  • The Pen Is Mightier: The phantom/critic has two mounted on his flying mecha. They fire deadly inkblots in the shape of insults.
  • Personality Powers: Bubbly Milla Vodello's specialty power is levitation. Repressed, slightly awkward Sasha Nein's specialty power involves controlling one's emotions and turning them into firepower.
  • Pinball Zone: Milla's Dance Party.
  • Playable Menu: Naturally, your main menu is a brain with the Psychonauts logo and several doors on it. If you think that's unfitting, read what it says on the logo again.
  • 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.
  • The Power of Friendship: One of the game's last abilities, usually only unlocked by those going for 100% Completion, uses the power of your friends "focusing their good energies on you" to heal you slowly.
  • Power Perversion Potential: It's not too hard to come up with ideas of what you can do with powers like Telekinesis, Invisibility or Clairvoyance...let's just say it's not all too unpleasant.
    • The developers are aware of this too. One of the campers, Nils Lutenfisk, plots to use Clairvoyance on an acorn to spy on girls through a squirrel's eyes.
  • Primal Scene: One of Sasha's memory reels shows that he read his father's mind to learn what his Missing Mom was like. He found some memories he really was not looking for.
  • Prince Charming: Lili sees Raz as this when using Clairvoyance on her.
    • Also, the women in Black Velvetopia.
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance
  • Psychic Powers: Even the animals have them! Including the Godless Killing Machines!
  • Psycho Serum: Psitanium. While it does grant and enhance mental abilities, it can also cause psychological instability in those without psychic aptitude.
  • Punch Clock Villain: The Censors that you fight in most levels exist for the purpose of stamping out foreign, bad, and hurtful thoughts before they're allowed to come to fruition. They're like mental-antibodies and we're told they're a sign a mind is healthy. (Although, in practice, even demonstrably insane characters like Boyd have them.) However, since you're a foreign body, you're fair game.
    • 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.)
  • Punny Name: Too many to count, some in foreign languages.
  • 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.

     R-Y 
  • Raymanian Limbs:
    • 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.
  • 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!
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist: Sheegor, though she is, of course, technically an Igor.
  • Rise to the Challenge: The Meat Circus has a long climb with rising water.
  • Room Full of Crazy: The starting room in Boyd's mind.
  • Running Gag: Every time Raz tries to tell someone directly that Dogen's brains were stolen, he'll be told some variation of "Oh, no, he's just like that", regardless of who the other person is.
  • Scenery Porn: Black Velvetopia. Oh lord hallelujah - or maybe more appropriately "viva" in this case.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: One of the most common complaints about the game. Zero Punctuation noted that roughly the entire first half consists of tutorials for the various game mechanics, followed by a massive Difficulty Spike into Nintendo Hard territory for the last few levels.
  • Screwed by the Network: Probably the most notorious example ever.
  • Secret Legacy
  • 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.
  • Self-Deprecation: In-Universe. Raz buys a painting from an artist in Black Velvetopia:
    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.
  • Shout-Out: To Forbidden Planet: "You are my own creation! I command you to stop!"
    Raz: Man, does that ever work?
    • Examining the tree stumps causes Raz to make a remark about "a series of catacombs", a reference to an easter egg from an earlier game Tim Schafer worked on, The Secret of Monkey Island.
    • Gloria's level, to The Phantom of the Opera.
    • Also, does Dr. Loboto remind you of anyone?.
    • 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?
    Dogen: TV?
    • "None shall pass!" in the Bonaparte level.
    • A couple of screens in Ford's secret lair show the games Pong and Battlezone.
    • Word of God says that the name of Fred's chapter "Waterloo World" is a reference to Waterworld.
    • 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.
    • The soundtrack is a goldmine of shout-outs. In addition to the Standard Snippet examples below, many other level themes have very clear influences: Lungfishopolis and the Godzilla theme; Meat Circus and the main Beetlejuice theme, etc.
  • Shown Their Work: Tim Schafer created Friendster profiles for every kid in the camp. It's revealed that Chloe Barge was really into hardcore rap.
  • Single Issue Psychology: True for just about everyone whose brain you enter, and often Played for Laughs:
    • All of Edgar's hang-ups stem from having been dumped by his high school girlfriend in favour of another guy.
    • Fred's came about as a consequence of being repeatedly beaten in a Napoleon-themed board game by an inmate in the asylum.
    • Raz and Oleander's problems are mainly because of Daddy Issues (although Oleander's Napoleon Complex was arguably a contributing factor).
    • Milla is guilty about an orphanage fire in which the children under her care perished.
    • Boyd's paranoia came about after having been fired.
  • 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.
  • Split Personality
    • Fred Bonaparte battling with his ancestor Napoleon Bonaparte.
    • And Ford Cruller, whose psyche was shattered in a mental duel against another psychic and can only be himself when he's near a relatively large Psitanium deposit.
    • And Boyd / The Milkman.
  • The Spock: Sasha Nein
  • Spoof Aesop: "Shooting things is fun and useful!"
    • "Now Razputin, remember only to use your power of Pyrokinesis only when it's very, very important... or really, really entertaining."
      • "And if you're doin' it to impress girls, make sure none of them have on a lot of hairspray. Whoo!"
  • Spring Jump: The levitation ball can be used in this fashion.
  • Stage Mom: Gloria's mother.
  • Standard Snippet: The music for Waterloo World is constructed from the Public Domain Soundtrack The 1812 Overture, with the theme of destroying the oppressive opponent.
    • 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.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • The final level in the game is a circus made of meat. One could refer to it as a Carne-val.
      • Sausage-Fest?
    • In order to cure Edgar Teglee, you have to collect the four Queens; otherwise, he can't complete the house of cards, because he's not playing with a full deck.
    • Then, there's Mr. Pokeylope. He's pretty sharp, for a turtle.
    • Ford Cruller gives Raz a piece of bacon to use as a beacon.
  • Stepford Smiler: The Rainbow Squirts, a transparent parody of the Girl Scouts.
    • Also, the transparently suicidal cheerleaders.
  • Stepford Suburbia: "The Milkman Conspiracy."
  • Steve Blum: Voices the G-Men, among others. And there was much rejoicing.
  • Straw Critic: Gloria has a really nasty one living in her head.
  • Surprise Slide Staircase: Managed by a trained bird. The bird pushes the button at the top step, but you still can't use momentum to jump onto the main platform.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In one of the plays in Gloria's mind, with a conversation between actors playing Gloria and her mother.
    "Gloria": And isn't it wonderfull that you aren't even slightly jealous of my fame, which has risen so much faster and higher than yours, while your star has faded?
    "Mother": (beat)... Yes.
    • Keep in mind the guy saying this next one is still wearing a straitjacket.
    Crispin: I'm an orderly, you know. I am not an imposter.
  • Super Drowning Skills: A Justified Trope thanks to a curse placed on Raz's family, but taken to ridiculous extremes within the game. Raz can "drown" in a cheap wooden prop made to look like water. To clarify, hitting a large body of water causes the water to form a hand-shaped-appendage and try to grab Raz and pull him under. When you hit the wooden-prop water, an equally cheap wooden prop-arm is pushed up and grabs him.
  • Superhero School: Technically, it's a psychic summer camp, but close enough.
  • 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.
    • Brainless kids only want to watch television.
    • Or, occasionally, play hacky sack.
  • Talking to Himself: Andre Sogliuzzo voices both halves of a split personality, Fred/Napoleon Bonaparte, who argues with himself. With such drastically different accents and tone it's uncanny.
  • Talking to Plants: According to the Psychonauts wikia [1] Lili is very fond of plants.
  • Teen Superspy: Preteen Superspy.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tomato Surprise: Boyd is The Milkman.
    • Likewise, Edgar is El Odio.
  • Top-Heavy Guy: Edgar Teglee. Also, the Lucha wrestlers.
  • Toros y Flamenco: Edgar's mind. And it's smooooooth...
  • Tsundere: Lili is very much a Western version of this trope.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Vent Physics: In use in the platforming dream world.
  • 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.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: "See ya in hell, squirrels!"
    • If you're really bored, you can have some fun by setting fire on a passerby NPC.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Mr. Pokeylope. Also Bonita Soleil and - in a way - the giant lungfish. She's female; her name is Linda.
  • Wacky Land: Nearly every level is some combination of this and Gimmick Level.
  • 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.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Gloria.
  • Widget Series: This is a game with a level based on black velvet paintings.
  • 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?
  • Words Can Break My Bones: Jasper. And Raz was so sure he had nothing to fear...
    Raz: How can I say this and still sound cool... Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never... hurt me?
  • Yandere: Elka is... kinda nuts about relationships.
  • You Get What You Pay For: During the Brain Tumbler experiment Raz will tell Sasha about seeing "very weird things". Sasha exclaims "Ack! Why did I have to buy the cheap Brain Tumbler?". Turns out cheapness has nothing to do with it...
  • 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.

    Creator/Double FineBrütal Legend
Power StoneTeen RatingRadiant Silvergun
Pro WrestlingTropeNamers/Video GamesPunch-Out!!
Project SnowblindXboxThe Punisher
Power StoneUsefulNotes/The Sixth Generation of Console Video GamesRatchet & Clank
Project EdenWebsite/GOG.comQuest for Glory
Psychic ForcePlay Station 2 Pump It Up
Project SylpheedScience Fiction Video GamesPuzzle Quest
Prince of Persia (2008)Platform GameSkylanders
Prototype 2SteamPutt-Putt
Death by IronyAwesome/Video GamesBadass Preacher
A Winner Is YouImageSource/Video GamesDirty Mind-Reading
Project Black SunApple MacintoshRage

alternative title(s): Psychonauts
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