The PlayStation 5 wasn't short of stellar launch games, but we're not sure many expected a freebie pack-in title to be among the best. Believe it or not, Astro's Playroom is an absolute gem; the fact all PS5 owners get it for free means your next-gen journey starts with a bang.
All this game needed to be was a decent example piece for the DualSense controller's capabilities. However, Asobi Team didn't stop at creating a simple tech demo. After finding success with Astro Bot Rescue Mission on PlayStation VR, the studio brought the little guy back for a short but very sweet adventure on Sony's latest hardware. The result is something really rather special. It does run you through all the PS5 pad's key features, but it goes way beyond that.
Astro's Playroom doesn't feel like it's giving you the hard sell on the DualSense — it's showing you the true potential of the controller's haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, with real, tangible examples. There are only four main levels, but they each offer new environments and mechanics. It's a fantastic platformer in a tiny package, and one that provides a completely unique experience. Better than any other PS5 title, this game utilises the DualSense controller superbly. You can feel the slipperiness of ice, the pitter-patter of rain, and the tension of a spring. It's enough to convince you this pad is the real deal.
If this game was just a stunning 6-hour platformer, that would've been more than enough, but one extra layer tips it over the edge. Never has there been a better, and more effective, celebration of PlayStation than this. This thing is absolutely stuffed with references to Sony's first-party games old and new, and it makes an already adorable game that much more endearing. Seeing little robot Kratos and little robot Atreus bobbing up and down on a little boat is just delightful, and this is only one example from dozens. PlayStation Labo, meanwhile, is practically a museum of past and present hardware, home to unlocked artefacts from the PS Vita all the way to obscure products like the PocketStation. For PlayStation fans, it's a true wonder.
Astro's Playroom succeeds in its mission to showcase your new controller, but it does it with such heart and charm that it's impossible not to fall in love. We sincerely hope that adorable little bot is here to stay. If this is what Asobi Team can achieve with a short, free pack-in game, we're hopeful for what comes next.
For more information, you can read our Astro's Playroom review through the link.
What do you think of Astro's Playroom? Does it rank among your top games of 2020? Tell us in the comments section below.
How we decide our Game of the Year: This December, our editorial team created a list of nominees for Game of the Year based on our own review scores and a variety of other factors. After much discussion, we trimmed the list of nominees down and asked all Push Square staff and the Push Square community to vote on their five favourites using a points-based system. The ten games with the most points by the designated deadline were then determined as our favourites of 2020.