Yesterday I finished off Psychonauts, which has been out for a few months and was getting good word-of-mouth, but I hadn’t had time for until recently.
It was worth the wait though. Its mechanics as a platformer are fairly standard, but it really shines in the art direction (some people consider it ‘ugly’, but it’s certainly distinctive), surreal and varied level design (the Milkman Conspiracy level is like a slice of idyllic suburbia warped by paranoia and has to be played to get the full effect), characters and dialogue, and the just overall quirky feel to it.
The only downsides are that it may be a bit too easy up until the last level, and then it becomes insanely difficult. There was one part that I must have had to retry at least 30-40 times before finally passing it, almost building to controller-smashing levels of frustration. You also need to collect an awful lot of items scattered around to gain levels, which may or may not be your thing.
In the end though, it was definitely worth the $30 I paid for the PC version. I’d be a bit more hesitant about the much-more-expensive console versions, so you might be better off renting it and finishing it over a weekend on those, or waiting for it to drop a bit. (It’s far better-looking and smoother on the PC anyways.)
Unfortunately, it looks like Psychonauts hasn’t sold very well so far, despite the excellent word-of-mouth going around, and the publisher is in trouble over it. It looks like some of the problems may be distribution-related, as it’s been somewhat difficult to find; the Future Shop I usually check hasn’t had any PC copies for quite a while and only occasionally has any PS2 copies. I had to go to EB Games, and even then, only one of three locations had any PC copies. It would be a shame to see it fail, as people often lament the lack of creativity in modern games and the emphasis on sequels in franchises…