This action/adventure title deftly balances exploring mental issues and concerns with humor and clever play to make a remarkable experience that's hard to forget. While Psychonauts 2 builds on the plots of the previous games in the series, you don't need to have played those two titles to enjoy this tale. In fact, a recap video sums up the events of those games while laying the groundwork for this adventure, which tosses you almost immediately into the action. Without spoiling any story points, this is an engaging tale of revenge, deception, redemption, acceptance, and healing, with Raz's life and everything he's known getting turned upside down on a regular basis. Given the unfair circumstances Raz faces (along with some merciless teasing from family and fellow young Psychonauts), he should become bitter or unhappy, taking things out on something. But he's an incredibly good kid who only wants to help people, and you can't help but cheer for him throughout the entire story. Gameplay is incredibly engaging, and plenty of tips are given to Raz by his fellow Psychonauts on using his powers, exploring environments, and defeating enemies when they first appear. This lets you focus on the story as well as fending off attacks from all sides and collecting tons of collectibles, such as ore that can be spent for upgrades, finding and tagging mental baggage, or grabbing figments of imagination. In fact, there's a ton of collectibles, side missions, and quests -- so many that you probably won't be able to complete everything on the first playthrough.
What's also impressive about Psychonauts 2 is how it manages to handle and treat mental issues in a sensitive way while still keeping the game's off-the-wall humor. Much of the game is tongue in cheek with its jokes and comments, but the personification of emotions -- like regrets that try to drop weights on you to hold you down, or censors that try to block thoughts (or Psychonauts) that don't belong in a mind -- is very clever. It allows players to fight against negative ideas, defeating them while accomplishing goals, while also exploring more serious issues like addiction, anxieties, and delusions. If you're struggling with these conditions, some scenes could possibly be distressing, but on the plus side, this could prompt discussion for some kids and older gamers, possibly leading to them wanting help for these issues. At least Psychonauts 2 suggests a mental health resource for any players who may feel affected, and hopefully parents and gamers alike will take advantage of this if any problems arise. Overall, Psychonauts 2 is an excellent and very thoughtful tale -- but hopefully it doesn't take another 16 years for another game in the franchise.