How accessible is Psychonauts 2?

Psychonauts 2 Accessibility Options Explained

The gaming space has changed a lot in the 16 years since the first Psychonauts released. Thankfully, accessibility features are a much bigger focus for development teams than they were back in the day. Psychonauts 2 developer, Double Fine, has made a strong stance in support of accessibility features, proposing that, “‘all people should be able to enjoy games’.

Now that the game is finally here, we’re able to see just how extensive the game’s accessibility features actually are. Here’s a rundown of the menu systems and how each setting works.

Credit: Double Fine Productions

Assist Features – Boot Menu

From the moment you first load up Psychonauts 2, you’re greeted with an Assist Features screen. While it’s great that this appears first, it’s disappointing that there is no menu text-to-speech reader. This makes it difficult for those who are visually impaired to read what is on screen.

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Luckily, there are options to improve the font legibility in menus. Enabling this will change the scribbled, handwritten font for a computerised one. You’ll also find options to toggle subtitles and a larger subtitle font in the same menu. Below that is localized navigation signs.

This menu appears for the first time when you boot up the game, but you can find these settings again in the Assist Features settings menu.

Credit: Double Fine Productions

Gameplay

Returning to the Assist Features menu, you’ll find a subheading labelled gameplay. This is where you can toggle options that will smooth out the gameplay experience. 

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The first option disables fall damage. Fall damage isn’t a huge worry in Psychonauts 2, mostly because the Levitation ability can break your fall each time. However, those with motor skill impairments may appreciate being able to disable fall damage altogether.

In a similar vein, you can toggle an Invincibility mode. This will negate all damage taken so that the protagonist, Raz, can never die. It’s still possible to fall off of platforms, but he won’t take damage upon respawning. This can be especially useful as the combat of Psychonauts 2 is rather clunky, especially when using the powers on offer. 

If going Invincible is a step too far for you, there’s also an option to enable ‘Narrative Combat’. This will reduce the health of enemies significantly and increase the amount of damage that you deal. It makes the combat a cake walk which is perfect for those that just want to experience what the story has to offer.

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Enabling any of these gameplay options has no bearing on the Achievements or Trophies. You can still platinum this game even if you enable all of the assist features.

Credit: Double Fine Productions

User Interface

Below the gameplay section are the user interface settings. Most of these are shared with the boot menu, however there’s the addition of a camera shake intensity slider and a colour blind option.

The camera shake intensity can be selected on a scale of 0 to 100. Turning this to zero will make the camera much more steady during action sequences, which can be helpful for those that are visually impaired or suffer from motion sickness.

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The colour blind setting has several options to cater to the different variations of colour blindness. Changing this option will alter much of the important UI elements but won’t change the colour hues of the actual world.

Credit: Double Fine Productions

Controls

Under the controls, there’s your usual affair of settings plus a few game specific options. Camera sensitivity, vertical and horizontal invert toggles are all here. In addition, you can also enable a Camera Assist function that turns the camera when Raz turns left or right.

There’s an option to use a triple jump as a glide function. A double jump exists in the game, but to glide afterwards means equipping the Levitation power and holding one of the trigger or bumper buttons. This option will let you glide after pressing the jump button three times in a row.

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Similarly, you can toggle an option that sees Raz pull out his levitation ball when exiting his glide state. This is incredibly useful as it can be a fiddly combination to pull this trick off naturally.

You can change the lock-on mechanic to be either a press or a toggle function. You can also change through several different display types for the power select radial menu.

There are a number of different control layouts available in Psychonauts 2. Sadly, it’s not possible to rebind each button on the controller manually. However, this functionality is available on Xbox consoles natively. Full key rebinding is possible on PC if you’re using a mouse and keyboard.

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Graphics and Audio

Under the graphics menu, you’ll find a couple of settings that can improve visibility. Motion blur can be turned on or off to create a clearer image. The brightness can also be changed here to make dark areas of the scene much more visible. When changing these options mid-game, the background fades away so that you can see the changes taking effect immediately, which is helpful.

Finally, all of the game’s audio channels are separated out. There’s a master volume slider with music, SFX, voice, and ambient sounds all customisable individually. You can also toggle subtitles on or off from this screen, too.

Credit: Double Fine Productions

Content warning

Psychonauts 2 deals with some pretty heavy topics throughout its narrative. To properly warn players of these topics, there’s a mental health advisory that appears upon starting the game. It warns that the game depicts addiction, PTSD, panic attacks, anxiety, and delusions in an artistic manner. There’s also a warning that some scenes could affect those with a dental phobia.

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From what I’ve played, I’d say that this content warning is accurate with the game never delving into unspecified topics. These topics are explored in a light-hearted fashion, but does deal with much of its content in a respectful manner.

Overall, Double Fine has done a reasonable job with making Psychonauts 2 accessible for all players. There are some areas where the game is still lacking – notably in ensuring that visually impaired players can navigate menus properly and identify collectibles. It would be nice to see a text-to-speech function added to the game, alongside a high contrast mode to make world navigation and collectible finding more accessible.

What are your thoughts on Psychonauts 2’s accessibility features? Let us know across our social channels.

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Featured Image Credit: Double Fine Productions