Hello, fellow Psychonauts fans!
I’m Ashley Esqueda, the author of The Art of Psychonauts 2. I’m working really, really hard on the book right now, but wanted to come up for air on the game’s one-year launch anniversary (happy birthday, Psychonauts 2!) to share some amazing stuff I’ve discovered while writing.
Double Fine was kind enough to give me full access to all of their Psychonauts 2 archives, which means I’ve spent the past few months poring over every single little detail in every sketch, sculpt, and render. It’s an incredibly fun project, but it’s also a lot of hard work. The good news is, my attention to detail and love of this universe means I’ve caught things I would have never noticed during my regular playthroughs of Psychonauts 2, and I wanted to give you all a taste of what I’ve been doing. At this point, I think I can confidently say the art in this book is going to blow your minds.
But before we press on: BEWARE! There are spoilers ahead!
The Top 5 Coolest Details I’ve Noticed While Writing The Art of Psychonauts 2 (So Far)
#5 Maligula’s initial design spanned dozens of concept pages
Sometimes, I’ve noticed that a character’s design (or overall vibe) is clear from the jump; other times, it takes a while to see someone take shape. Maligula is, by far, the character with the most iterations.
Character Designer Scott Campbell drew over 30 different pages of ideas, with each exploration page containing 2-6 different versions of Maligula. I’ve included a few here for you to enjoy, including one with a male Maligula, but you’ll have to get the book to feast your eyes on more.
#4 The launch party had themed drinks!
Double Fine’s launch party for Psychonauts 2 was a true celebration of perseverance and triumph. Not every game starts as a crowdfunding campaign, goes through 6 years of development, and comes out the other side a Game of the Year nominee. I have recently uncovered a delightful custom drink menu the team used for their party, created by none other than Director of Communications, Spaff
#3 Coach Oleander almost had a working PsychoMech (with a twist)
In Psychonauts 2, Coach O. is relegated to a tiny little storage closet adjacent to Sasha and Milla’s respective offices. But it wasn’t always so; I found pieces by Concept Artist Peter Chan showing off a location called “Coach’s Garage,” which would be Coach’s workshop. Remember the cutscene in the bowling alley where he grumbles about his mech that was cut due to budgetary constraints? That’s a meta joke, because originally, Coach Oleander was going to finish his “machine of peace” and ultimately pilot his mech in Psychonauts 2. But it wasn’t just any mech…
It was a mer-mech.
Designed as a tie-in to Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, Coach’s mer-mech ended up being scrapped for the same reason it was scuttled in-game: budget cuts (it also ended up becoming unnecessary when the team reworked the third act of the game).
May you enjoy this piece by Concept Artist Emily Johnstone as much as I have.
RIP, mer-mech. We hardly knew ye.
#2 The Aquatos have gorgeous performance clothing
There aren’t many opportunities to really get a close look at each member of the Aquato family, but that’s kind of a shame, because their performance outfits are jam packed with beautiful details.
Have you noticed Augustus’ coat? This thing is gorgeous, but you really get a sense for how hard the team worked on it when you see it sparkling in this gif...
It’s not just Augustus, though; the entire Aquato family has water-themed show clothes, and the attention to detail is downright delightful. Water droplets made of gems/crystals, splash embroidery, fur collars that look like crashing waves…it’s really good. Can we have a whole game about the Aquatos? Pretty please?
#1 Ford and Lucy’s clothes have a specific connection
One day, I was writing about Ford’s Fractured Mind, and looking closely at his different outfits. In each one (Barber, Bowler, Mail Clerk, Gravedigger), there is a specific shade of red that appears in each of them, save for his Psychonauts jumpsuit look. I stared for a long time at the red tie on his Clerk render, while my brain put together the pieces. That’s when I realized I’d seen that shade of red while writing about the Psychic Seven. I excitedly opened up the folder for Lucrecia Mux.
There it was. The same shade of red, peppered throughout all but one of her forms.
When I saw this, I let out an audible yell and literally had to step away from my desk for a minute. After I regained my composure, I sent a furious yet joyful email to Concept Artist Nathan “Bagel” Stapley to yell about how amazing his paintovers were.
There’s more to write, and more to discover, so I’ve gotta get back to it, but Happy Launchiversary, Psychonauts 2! I’m honored to help celebrate alongside the community with some gems I’ve come across while working on this book.
Keep being wonderful weirdos, everyone.
The Art of Psychonauts 2: Coming Soon
- 250+ Page Luxurious Hardcover Art Book
- Featuring never-before-seen concept art, dev interviews, and more!
- Written by acclaimed writer and host, Ashley Esqueda
- Book Design by Lost in Cult
- Foreword by [Mystery Person to be Revealed Later]
- Pre order today for $49.99