Sawbuck Gamer

Psychout

Everything You Know Is Wrong

But Psychout already knew that.

By Derrick Sanskrit • June 29, 2012

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

Game-sharing sites like Newgrounds and Kongregate have a template for browser-based platformers: slick sprite animation, a modicum of morbidity, and one or two unusual mechanics that an entire game can be based around—if only for 10 minutes, before the game acknowledges its own limitations and ends abruptly. Psychout follows this formula to the letter. As a mental ward inmate, the player cavorts around elaborate single-screen death traps disguised as padded cells. It all looks very simple, but that’s only because the way the inmate sees the world is very different from the way the world really is.

The rules of physics are altered from room to room. Sometimes you can walk up walls. Sometimes you can flip gravity. Sometimes there are invisible platforms. Sometimes the padding moves around and transforms into a life-sized game of Pong. The player enters a room, takes stock of the surroundings, and goes about a reality-defying escape. The 30 rooms of this M.C. Escher madhouse seek to confuse, amuse, and entertain, perhaps even in that order.

Some players might be left wondering whether the inmate really can walk on walls, defy physics in any of the other ways demonstrated here, or if these rooms really are flat terrain and the inmate merely perceives the complications and threats. Those players are almost certainly thinking too much for a browser game that can be completed in the time it takes to watch an episode of My Little Pony. It’s also just about as much fun, depending on how much you enjoy simple platforming puzzles and/or pony-based humor.

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108 Responses to “Everything You Know Is Wrong”

  1. JudgeReinhold says:

    Sure, sure, but is this mental ward inmate’s friendship magic? Because otherwise, ponies win. Or so I’ve heard. 

  2. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Something about that game screen, maybe the limited options and obvious dangers is evocative of Ghouls and Ghosts to me.  Which got me thinking about how much I love that series, only because each iteration is defined by a final boss who couldn’t be bothered to get up from his chair.

    • Effigy_Power says:

       Maybe the bosses were paraplegics? How would that make you feel, huh?
      -wags finger with righteous indignation-

  3. Merve says:

    A very interesting, well-made platformer. I really like aesthetic, and the environmental manipulation adds some nifty wrinkles.

    SPOILER: I love how the end screen just says “Happy End.”

    • blue vodka lemonade says:

      I do not think I will ever see that Happy End, because there is a very timing-sensitive room, and it is very killing-me.

      ETA: And lo and behold, not ten seconds after posting this comment I figured out how to get through with less-than-perfect jumps. Happy End for all, and to all a good night.

      • Mr_Upthrust says:

        I thought for a long time that there must have been a trick to that level, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s just a cruelly un-fun level. It’s a pity that what they chose to end on.

        • Merve says:

          The trick is to play that level like a rhythm game. Tapping your finger to the “beat” can help.

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

          Oh, I just realized that you could stand on top of the laser-blocks. It makes the timing a little easier, giving you a slightly longer window.

          For me, the beats were too far apart to get a good grip on the rhythm.

  4. blue vodka lemonade says:

    The shifting-physics rules and vague asylum setting remind me a lot of Time Fcuk, which is one of my favorite Newgroundsy games I’ve ever played. Psychout’s shorter length is good and the difficulty much less nerve-wracking, though it also lacks that WELL FINALLY feeling of accomplishment you get after staring at a little box of platforms for about a year or so, and then by divine inspiration deriving the way out the other side.

    • Asinus says:

       That last timing level was sort of annoying because you hit the “Okay, I get it” point long before you finish it. What was most frustrating is that I had the timing down well enough that I’d hit the lightning as the switch clicked. The end was cute, though. [Spoiler] I liked the straight-jacketed princess.

  5. This was a really clever, intelligent game. It reminded me of Super Meat Boy mixed with a little bit of Braid. I really hope the designer has some more games in store, perhaps expanding on some of these ideas.

  6. chrisbarton303 says:

    I’ve never watched an episode of My Little Pony. Will I like this game?