FROM THE makers of classic PC adventure Grim Fandango comes 2005's most unique Xbox game. At a summer camp for gifted children (one of whom has to wear a metal hat because he's forever making people's heads explode), you are Raz, a highly potent young psychic who has attracted the attention of some rather unsavoury characters because of his powers.
Through a combination of detective work and psychic abilities such as psionic fists and exploding balls of energy, Raz must solve the mystery that's descended on the camp. But it's the bits of the game which are actually set inside people's minds that truly dazzle. For instance, entering the mind of the ex-military camp leader lets you witness the horrors of war like you're on some psychotropic trip. Ghostly apparitions of old battles and dead comrades haunt his thoughts, and you'll have to help offload him of his emotional baggage - depicted as shivering suitcases desperate to be reunited with their luggage tags.
It's this play on brain-related themes that adds real colour and character to Psychonauts and makes it so much more than just another hub-based platformer. Power up on 'mental health' for example, and you'll be right as rain. Throughout the camp there are richly detailed characters to meet, all of whom are beautifully animated and voiced, and oodles of strange dreamscapes and worlds to explore, many of which are like playing through drug-induced nightmares.
Psychonauts is dazzlingly clever and way left of field - if you want a platformer where collecting 99 gems for an extra life actually means drilling through someone's psyche to their darkest secrets, you're in for a treat. Bizarre, but beautiful.
A platform lover's dream, literally. Turns the hopping/collecting formula on its head and then inside-out. Great stuff.