Report Card: Astro’s Playroom (review)

In October of 2018 Team Asobi released the best platformer of the generation in Astro Bots Rescue Mission for the PlayStation 4 courtesy of the PSVR platform. Here at Mega Dads we championed this brilliant and charming 3D platform full of great gameplay, powers, level design and all the charm you could possibly want from a new mascot character. The problem was the audience for the game was locked behind a paywall and peripheral adoption of the PSVR unit and thusly not nearly enough people got to play Rescue Mission and appreciate its brilliance. Enough people did speak up and spoke loudly about the caliber of that game however that it became evident that Astro needed another shot. Not only is he getting it, but he’s getting the spotlight treatment this time by being the pack-in launch game for the PlayStation 5 ensuring that every single player who picks up a DualSense will be able to see what all the buzz is about.

First thing to note about Astro’s Playroom is that this games fundamental purpose is to provide a hands on idea of what exactly the DualSense controller is capable of. You will absolutely marvel at how PlayRoom leans on every single feature of the controller from the haptic feedback to the adaptive triggers, touch pad, microphone, on-board speakers and more. Astro turns the dial to eleven and will have you falling in love with DualSense hard. In fact the utilization of the controller is SO good that it will spoil other PlayStation 5 experiences for you as no game in the launch lineup nails it as well as Astro.

But beyond the controller showcase that Astro provides there is a fantastic platformer in here that shines even without the added bump of DualSense immersion. The game is broken up into four main worlds that are connected to the Astro’s Playroom hub. Playing each game world nets you collectables to decorate your playroom which is segmented into four areas that pay homage to each generation of PlayStation that came before. Astro can collect The PS1 Multi-tap, PlayStation 2’s Network Adapter, the PS3’s Move Controllers and more. Doing so has you progressively turning the playroom into a museum of every single PlayStation peripheral and hardware accessory and it is delightful.

While it would be nice to have some sort of classic game emulation running in the museum you can still get your nostalgia fix as each game world is absolutely stacked with easter eggs celebrating your favorite games from the PlayStation library. Astro’s little robot buddies are hiding all over every level and cosplaying as characters like Solid Snake, Heihachi, Kratos and even Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2. The scope of nods and celebrations brought me to tears as I played something I never thought that I would, a celebration of the history of my favorite platform. This is something Nintendo has done for years and absolutely nailed. The classic sprite gameplay in Super Mario Odyssey is a great example of how you can use a current game to celebrate your roots, and Astro takes this idea to new heights with Playroom. I never stopped smiling through the entire experience.

People who would dismiss this game as simply a demo are doing themselves a great disservice as Playroom is a game bursting with great level design, tight and unique controls, fantastic visuals and audio and more secrets you could hope to find. You’ll be playing replaying levels over and over trying to find just one more relic or enough coins to feed into the claw machine in the hub world. It’s hard to believe one of the best launch titles on the PlayStation 5 is packed in at no additional cost to you the consumer, but here we are. I cannot wait to see what adventures await us next from Team Asobi. Astro once again proves himself to be the best of the best when it comes to 3D platformers, and an invaluable tool for Sony to showcase yet another piece of impressive technology.

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