Do I need to play the original Psychonauts before Psychonauts 2?

Psychonauts 2 Image
Psychonauts 2 Image (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios | Double Fine Productions)

Do I need to play the original Psychonauts before Psychonauts 2?

Best answer: No, it's not necessary to play the original Psychonauts before you dive into Double Fine Production's latest game, Psychonauts 2. While Psychonauts 2's story does take place mere days after the first game (and immediately after Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, the VR game), the game does a great job of recapping previous events and tutorializing characters, game mechanics, and lore. That being said, the first Psychonauts is still a great game that's well worth playing.

Psychonauts 2 leaves no stone unturned

Psychonauts 2 picks up where the original game left off in 2005, and combines all the best aspects of Double Fine Productions into one quirky and charming 3D platformer. Of course, the video game landscape is vastly different than it was 16 years ago, so thousands of players who never experienced the original Psychonauts may be hesitating now before committing to playing Psychonauts 2. Fortunately, Double Fine thought of everything, and designed their most accessible and inclusive game yet.

Even if you've never heard of the Psychonauts franchise, it's still easy to dive straight into Psychonauts 2 and not come away confused or lost. Double Fine's game design is built to be inclusive from the beginning, and that means a seamless recap of previous events at the beginning of the game; thorough and unobtrusive tutorials and breakdowns of game features and collectibles, characters, game mechanics, and more; and subtle exposition through conversations, world lore, and gameplay.

Our Psychonauts 2 review labels the game as a real game-of-the-year contender, and that holds true even if you have no prior experience with the franchise. If you're interested in a comprehensive 3D platformer that will make you think and laugh in equal measures, then you can begin playing Psychonauts 2 straight away when it releases on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PC PS5, PS4, Xbox Game Pass, and Xbox Cloud Gaming on Aug. 25, 2021.

The original is still worth playing

We've already established that you don't need to play the original Psychonauts to fully enjoy everything that Psychonauts 2 has to offer as one of the best Xbox games, but that doesn't mean the original is worthless as a game. Double Fine's platforming classic from 2005 still more than holds up today, and that's why it's definitely worth playing the original Psychonauts in 2021. Whether you jump into Psychonauts 2 right away, or want to experience its origins first, the original Psychonauts is still a fantastic platformer with wonderful writing and out-of-this-world level designs.

Older game design makes the original Psychonauts less accessible than its successor, so keep that in mind if you're looking for a casual platforming experience. Still, the fact that the original Psychonauts is still worthy of a playthrough in 2021, despite the massive improvements Psychonauts 2 has made and the ways in which it ensures you don't need the original to understand the game, shows just how special Double Fine's 2005 cult classic really is.

Psychonauts 2 is an excellent game that combines modern game design and accessibility with everything that made the original special, but the original Psychonauts still offers a unique gaming experience that simply can't be replicated, even 16 years later.

The same holds true, albeit in a lesser fashion, for Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin. This is a smaller experience that, once again, isn't necessary in any form to play Psychonauts 2 to the fullest, but it is still a great game that's worth playing. Of course, Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin is a VR-only game, which drastically reduces how easy it is to play. If you have a compatible VR headset lying around, though, be sure to check this game out.

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.