Fans of Psychonauts have been craving a sequel for years, and although Psychonauts In The Rhombus of Ruin isn’t exactly the full-length adventure everyone was hoping for it is an enjoyable virtual reality experience with all the character and charm that made the original game so likeable.
Psychonauts In The Rhombus of Ruin is the kind of VR game that makes you smile as you play it, not because it’s doing anything special with the mechanics, but because it’s bursting with character and humor that rides the line between grim drama and dark humor in a way that makes it worth the two to three hours it takes to play.
Short but Sweet
Rhombus of Ruin’s story picks up almost immediately after the credits roll in the original Psychonauts and immediately opens with a short tutorial to show off the mechanics as you track down the missing Truman Zannotto, the Grand Head of the Psychonauts, and your maybe-girlfriend’s father.
From there things quickly progress as you’re thrown into an underwater adventure that requires you to solve various psychedelic puzzles using everything from small psychic pokes to full blown blasts of psychic energy. Your primary objective is to save your friends and each ally unlocks one of your psychic abilities to progress further in the story.
Unfortunately, the whole game takes at most three hours to finish if you’re really stretching things out and taking your time. Really, it feels like it’s just a short little chapter in Raz’s life to bridge the gap between the original Psychonauts and whatever sequel that’s still to come, so that the developers don’t need to feel pigeonholed by whatever story roadmap they created back when the original game released.
Things are relatively linear, but most puzzles can be solved quickly with a combination of exploration and creative thinking. There’s also a healthy dose of humor spread around every corner and the more you look the more you’ll find in terms of references to the larger Psychonauts world.
In general, this translates extremely well to VR because despite the wild art style it integrates seamlessly into a VR experience that builds your immersion from the outset. The whole game feels like it combines nostalgic gaming with immersive VR in a sweet little cocktail that keeps things actively fun and interesting.
Limited VR Integration
The only downside is that although Rhombus of Ruin feels immersive and the art style still gives you plenty of VR wow moments as you move through the environment, the actual VR integration is limited at best.
This is likely a carryover from Rhombus of Ruin’s original PSVR release, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the game is far from room-scale compatible. For the most part you’re just a floating set of eyes with no body or hands, aiming is done by looking around the room, and there’s very little attempt to adapt any kind of motion controls to anything but the headset itself.
Movement is based off a series of psychic possession-style VR teleports where you psychically step into the mind of someone in the area to see what they’re looking at or, so you can then teleport into the next character to move to a new area. It’s not perfect or ground breaking but it is comfortable, so you don’t need to worry about any kind of VR motion sickness while playing.
For what it is, it works. This is far from a boundary pushing VR title, and although I felt constantly like I could have played the game just as easily sitting down with a controller I never really struggled to make anything work using the Vive wands instead.
That said, it really does feel like a missed opportunity for a cool VR game. The Psychonauts world has all kinds of psychic power mechanics that would carryover well to quality motion controls and room-scale environments and there just really isn’t much in Rhombus of Ruin that takes advantage of the full power of the platform.
What mechanics are present are well implemented and fun, but we really hope that Tim Schafer and Double Fine Productions continue to develop VR titles to really play with what’s possible on the platform.