Normally, I’d say many hold the original 2006 Psychonauts very dearly. Alas, it turned out to be one of those little known gems that not many managed to experience. The staple Tim Schaffer design (Broken Age, Brutal Legend) is of course back, humour and whacky colours galore. The few fans out there can look forward to picking up events exactly after they ended in the last adventure in Rhombus of Ruin.
Developer: Double Fine
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Avg Game Length: 2.5hrs
Rhombus of Ruin Makes Good Use Of VR
Raz and his psychonaut friends have departed in their Thunderbirds-esque plane to go looking for the missing Truman Zanotto, the head of the head of the Psychonauts. Yet, their plans soon go awry as they crash land in The Rhombus of Ruin. Like a rectangular Bermuda Triangle and twice as dangerous! What follows is a sequence of “rooted to the spot” moments while the player looks around for clues and solutions.
While that gameplay premise may seem bland, it actually fits Psychonauts’ ideas perfectly. This method of movement in VR is nothing new. Although, as I hopped my consciousness from one lifeform to the next, I began to understand the potential this medium has for storytelling. After all, being a flea was oddly amusing. Getting an angle on items in the environment, depending on who’s eyes you see them through is still a refreshing concept for gamers. It allows our brains to think and process information in new ways. While the concept is never truly leveraged to full potential in Rhombus of Ruin, it leaves us to wonder what has yet to be unboxed for VR puzzle games.
Schaffer Spares Nothing When Dealing With Dialogue
To keep a sense of energy throughout puzzle scenes, Tim Schaffer has ensured there is constant dialogue. Regardless of whether the player is doing something to further the story or not. This is a welcome boon to the game, ensuring it rarely has a dull moment. Though, being stuck for a while can play tricks on the voiceover. Raz could end up saying the same musings on what to do over and over to the point of frustrating players.
Rhombus of Ruin Offers Simple Yet Satisfying Puzzling
Thankfully, this is a rare occurrence throughout as no one puzzle is too difficult. Very little interactive items lie about during puzzle scenes. This means there’s only a small margin for being stuck to the extent that you look up a walkthrough online. Interactions are kept to a minimum as well. Raz’s psychic abilities are limited to setting things on fire, moving items with telekinesis or shifting perspective.
So it’s only really puzzles that ask you combine all three for the solution, that will truly challenge the player. Despite the voiceover issues here and there, the difficulty of puzzles stays at a satisfying happy medium throughout. A sense of momentum through the story is never truly lost with a lack of harsh difficulty spikes.
Playful Presentation And Whacky Art Style
Speaking of which, the story is whacky, colourful and never takes itself seriously (after all this is Tim Schaffer we’re talking about). The soundtrack is playful and fun and the graphical style admittedly fits the PSVR headset to a tee. But of all of Tim’s works, Rhombus of Ruin is certainly one of the least accessible to older gamers. Of course, there are plenty of adults out there who still enjoy Disney or children’s movies. Yet, for those who do not and prefer a more visceral approach to the presentation of their games, Rhombus of Ruin may not be for them. It is incredibly innocent and completely suitable for children…
While Brutal Legend afforded a falling back onto violence for its comedy, Rhombus of Ruin is left to rely on sheer zany-ness to carry it through. Unlike gamers who played the original a decade ago, Psychonauts has changed one bit. Which is fabulous for the decade older Psychonaut purists out there.
Yet for gamers new to the franchise, Rhombus of Ruin may be a little harder to sync up with. While its characters are charming as ever, there aren’t really any laugh out loud moments to commit to memory here. A bit like a fun short episode of your favourite hangover TV, Rhombus of Ruin is simply dependable light entertainment.
Accessible To The Niche Of Fans. Less So Otherwise
For another VR product being sold at far less than typical asking price, Rhombus of Ruin is a delightful surprise to fans of the franchise. Yet, to those unfamiliar with the exploits of Raz and the gang, its simplistic gameplay may run the risk of underwhelming. Check out the video below to decide if it’s for you. For All Things VR, stick around at All Things Playstation.