Psychonauts In The Rhombus Of Ruin Review (Oculus Rift)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
Psychonauts was originally released quite a while ago, and while it was not successful on release it has since moved on to get quite a cult following. With Psychonauts 2 hitting its goal on Kickstarter, the team at Double Fine released The Rhombus of Ruin on PSVR last year. Now it is finally available on other platforms, but the question is what does this VR title offer?
The story of Rhombus in Ruin practically picks up where Psychonauts originally ended, as this entry on the VR medium is meant to fill that gap between the two games. In the game you are again in control of Raz, but now he has graduated he is just as powerful as his peers on the ship. In the Rhombus of Ruin you are searching for Truman Zanotto, the Grand Head of the Psychonauts, as you use Raz’s powers to try to work out where he is and save him. However, the story has a lack of introduction for those who have not played the first entry into series, which makes it feel like it is certainly for the fans.
For those who did not play the original game, a big part of the games appeal came from the combat platforming gameplay, but this VR entry takes a different approach. Instead this game is played in first person and returns to Double Fine’s more traditional point and click adventure – but this is not bad thing.
This is all done by using the powers that Raz has at his disposal from clairvoyance, telekinesis, pyrokinesis, PSIblast, and poking objects/characters. The most used power is clairvoyance as this will allow you to travel between all the other non-playable characters and some of the animals in the game. In doing this you can find out hints in what you will need to do to progress, as well as being able to enter things like codes into a machine. Then other puzzles will need you to burn things using your pyrokinesis, PSIblast being used to hit things out of your reach and poke used to press buttons. The only other use of poke is to get Raz’s opinions on the things you prod.
Given you only use these few powers throughout the game, most of the puzzles are pretty quick to solve, meaning you are never stuck wondering what to do to move forward. The only puzzle I really got a little stuck on was the one that involved Sasha, this was down to the very little options of interaction in this section – meaning it was a little more difficult to work out.
The visuals of the game bring back the Tim Burton-esc style and thy really do transfer well into VR. Everything from the character models and environments are so well finished and polished, and for me it is one of the best looking games I have played in VR. But, even stronger than the visuals is the writing in the game, it is all put together well especially the humour in script – which will bring a smile to anyone’s face. Add to the script the fantastic voice acting and the music that has been composed for the game and it really hard to see any fault with the games presentation. One part I totally loved was the opening credits to the game, with the song and art direction really bringing that James Bond vibe.
As you are jumping between the characters in the game, this game can be played either standing or seated – it all depends on your preference as there is no advantage of playing it a set way. The game does not allow any free locomotion, as your clairvoyance is what is used to move to get a better angle to do what you need to progress in the game.
The controls in the game are set-up very well on the touch controllers, making them very simplistic to use, and to get you used to these the game gives you a 10-15 minute introduction to introduce your powers to you. The only one that can be a little fiddly is the telekenisis – well until you get used to it. The games page on the Oculus store also shows that a gamepad is supported, however, for the purposes of this review I only used the Touch Controllers.
Now one disappointing factor of the game is it’s length, even with getting stuck on the Sasha puzzle it took me around one and half hours to get through it all. With the most disappointing part being with how nice it looks and the amazing writing it left you wanting a lot more, and a little more exploration of the Rhombus really could have added more time into the title. But, as mentioned at the beginning this is meant to fill the gap between the original and the upcoming sequel – so maybe this all that they could unveil at this point.
Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin is one of the best looking and well written VR games I have experienced so far. The team at Double Fine really have brought some high productions values in their first VR outing. The main issue being that it is all a little brief and comes to an end too quickly. Also, the game offers the scratch for that itch for fans who have been waiting thirteen years for more from Raz and company. But, it doesn’t really explain itself or the characters enough for people who never played the original.
Also available on HTC Vive and Playstation VR
Developers: Double Fine Productions