‘Psychonauts’ Ending Explained: The Mind Is Full of Secrets
By Marco Vito Oddo
Published Jun 24, 2021
Let’s flex our memories before ‘Psychonauts 2.’
There are many reasons to fall in love with Psychonauts, Double Fine’s 3D platformer about a psychic boy with the power to get inside other people’s minds. As each mind is unique, each level of Psychonauts has complete freedom to reimagine how the player should interact with the scenario, which in turn leads to some of the most creative level designs ever featured in a game. More than a gimmick, the mind-jumping is at the center of Psychonaut’s universe, which reinterprets the functioning of the human mind in both a funny and dark way. Psychonauts is a colorful game with quirky characters, but it’s also a story about trauma, regret, mental health, and the subconscious. It’s not always easy to understand all the nuances of Psychonaut’s narrative, so with the sequel getting released this August 25th, this is the perfect time to revisit the bonkers ending of the first game.
If you’ve never played the first Psychonauts and want to get straight into Psychonauts 2, or if you finished the first game a long time ago and need to clear out the mental cobwebs on your memory lobe, we’ll tell you everything you need to know so you don’t feel lost. This means we’ll have spoilers for Psychonauts. If that doesn’t scare you, jump right through our mental door, and let’s travel together through the mindscape.
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Image via Double Fine
As Psychonauts is a game that deals directly with the mind of its characters to create both its levels and its story, we first get to know the history of Razputin Aquato, our brave protagonist, in order to understand the game’s plot. Raz, as the ten-year-old hero likes to call himself, was born and raised in the Aquato family — a circus group specializing in acrobatics. Raz found out that he had psychic powers as a child but was soon forbidden by his strict father ever to use them. Raz’s father, Augustus, has a life-long grudge against psychics ever since a rival circus family, the Galochios, cursed every Aquato to die in water. Since the Galochios psychically cursed them, every time an Aquato family member gets near a great body of water, a psychic hand raises from the water and tries to drown them. Say goodbye to beach vacations!
To stop Raz from developing his psychic powers, Augustus forced his son to practice acrobatics non-stop. There’s a reason why Raz can jump and climb better than any other children we meet during Psychonauts, and that acrobatic energy makes it easier for the young hero to traverse the treacherous ways of other people’s minds.
While Augustus tried to prevent his son from getting involved with psychics, a strange hooded figure changed Raz’s life forever. After a circus show, the mysterious person gave Raz a pamphlet that revealed the Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp, a secret government facility used to train young children gifted with psychic powers. With proper training, the best students of Whispering Rock can become a Psychonaut — secret government agents who use their minds to fight villains worldwide.
Raz read the pamphlet so many times he memorized its words and made it his life goal to become a Psychonaut himself. Raz escapes the circus and invades the secret Summer Camp, determined to prove his value before senior Psychonauts agents. Little is known about the hooded figure who put Raz on this dangerous path. However, the figure is featured in a poster during a level that partially exists inside Raz’s mind; in this poster, the figure is seen using psychic powers to control water. The best bet is that the hooded figure is a member of the Galochio family, although his intentions in leading Raz to the Psychonauts are unknown. Maybe we’ll get this mystery cleared out once Psychonauts 2 gets released.
Image via Double Fine
During his time at the Whispering Rock camp, Raz uncovers a secret alliance between the camp leader, Coach Morceau “Morry” Oleander, and the evil dentist who oversees the Thorney Towers Home for the Demented, Dr. Caligosto Loboto. By using the mental institution as a cover for their operations, Loboto and Oleander build psychic tanks that can be powered up by unique brains gifted with psychic powers. By developing a method of brain extraction by a sneeze, the two villains steal the brains of the children of Whispering Rock. With an army of psychic-powered tanks, the evil duo intends to rule the whole world. Of course, Raz stops their evil plans, extracting Oleander’s brain in the process.
However, before victory can be claimed, Raz’s brain gets removed by a final blow from Oleander’s brain, at the time controlling one of the psychic-powered tanks. The two brains end up mixed in the same jar, taking Raz to a mental landscape made from his and Oleander’s repressed traumas.
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The final level, “Meat Circus,” is as crazy as it sounds. Inside the nightmarish level, Raz meets a deformed version of his father, Augustus, who puts death traps on the boy’s path to force him to practice his acrobatics. Raz is not alone, however, as he finds a young Oleander in the level, a fragile child who tries to save rabbits from his monstrous father, a butcher who kills everything in his way. It turns out that Oleander had a traumatic experience with his father the same way as Raz did, and when their brains got mixed, their haunting memories became intertwined. That’s why the “Meat Circus” level takes place inside a circus… made of fresh meat. Yeah, that one was obvious.
Determined to save Oleander’s innocence, Raz protects the child projection of the villain during the whole level while evading the two monstrous father figures. When all hope seems to be lost, Raz’s father, the real one, gets inside the boy’s mind. It turns out Augustus is also a psychic, just like Raz. Augustus reveals that he forced his son to train so hard to learn discipline, an essential tool for the boy to defend himself against the many enemies of the Aquato family. (Do you remember that mysterious hooded figure?)
Powered by the presence of his father and determined to overcome his traumas, Raz throws both monstrous fathers into a meat grinder. Psychonauts’ final boss is a giant meat monster made of pieces of both figures, and Raz can fight the creature with his own giant mental projection, a power his real father teaches him.
Once the nightmare is defeated, both Raz and Oleander’s traumas meet their end. Without the repressed nightmares of his butcher father to fuel his rage, Oleander is declared sane once again, leaving his world-domination plans behind. Raz, in turn, becomes the youngest agent the Psychonauts have ever welcomed into their ranks for his uniquely powerful brain and his indisputable courage. The game’s ending has even a sweet moment when Raz can reunite with his love interest, Liz, and the two can kiss and make their relationship a real thing.
Image via Double Fine
Nevertheless, there’s always a new evil menace lurking around. As soon as things get solved in the Whispering Rock Summer Camp, the senior Psychonauts get a message telling them Truman Zanotto, head of the Psychonauts and Liz’s father, has been kidnapped. Raz gets invited to join the rescue mission, and together with Liz and the senior Psychonauts, the young hero jumps into action. The first game already intended to have a sequel, back in 2005.
Psychonauts’ cliffhanger would only be solved in 2017, during the events of the VR game Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin. In the VR adventure, the crew saves Truman Zanotto from Dr. Loboto, who had escaped during the events of Psychonauts. The upcoming Psychonauts 2, however, will be the definitive sequel, bringing back the mix of exploration, platforming, and excellent writing that made the first game a cult classic. We can’t wait to see what Psychonauts 2 has in store for us, and if the sequel is at least half as creative as the first game, this will be one of the best games of 2021.
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About The Author
Marco Vito Oddo
(401 Articles Published)
Marco Vito Oddo is a writer, journalist, and game designer. Passionate by superhero comic books, horror films, and indie games, he writes for Collider and develop games for Mother’s Touch Games.
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