If you ask me for the most beautiful love story in video games this year, or perhaps even the last few years, my answer will be the one between Bob Zanotto and Helmut Fullbear in Psychonauts 2. Psychonauts 2 spoilers ahead.
The married couple was ripped apart during the fateful battle with Maligula, and Helmut was presumed dead. While the two are ultimately reunited, we learn so much about their relationship from peeking inside Bob’s mind when they’re apart, and the result is a devastating portrait of loss. Every mindscape in Psychonauts 2 gives us insights as to how the characters have dealt with their shame and guilt over an incident years prior, but more than any other, Bob’s Bottles is a character study that informs his relationships with other key Psychonauts.
The stage revolves around a man adrift in an ocean of self-doubt and loneliness, and both the name and imagery suggest struggles with alcoholism brought on by his trauma. The incarnations of his personality as expressed through “Bob Bulbs” are constantly, drunkenly slurring and making off-putting comments. Moths act as both aggressors and protectors, cocooning Bob from outsiders. The Bob we meet inside his own mind is a curmudgeon, but not because he doesn’t like people. He’s convinced that people don’t or wouldn’t like him, and that those whom he once called friends were faking it.