Is there an argument that Asobi Team is the most inventive Sony studio right now? The small sector of Japan Studio is certainly getting the most out of the platform holder’s hardware, as Astro Bot Rescue Mission proved by completely reinvigorating the classic 3D platformer on PlayStation VR. With its latest project, free PlayStation 5 pack-in Astro’s Playroom, the group has single-handedly demonstrated the power of the new DualSense controller – but it’s also concocted a love letter to PlayStation that will live with fans long after launch.
Unlike past efforts like Welcome Park and The Playroom, this complimentary content is less tech demo and more full game. Spanning four worlds and 16 levels, with a few additional secrets along the way, you can consider this a micro-campaign that will take you anywhere from three to six hours to complete. There are over 100 collectibles to discover, many of which can be observed in an interactive hub, which serves as a virtual gallery for PlayStation’s past. This is an experience for everyone, but those who recognise franchises like Jumping Flash will truly get the most out of it.
Indeed, virtually every frame of this meticulously assembled platformer pays homage to Sony’s legacy. The references lurch from the obvious to the utterly obscure, like an interactive catapult that harkens back to mad PlayStation 3 bruise-‘em-up Pain to the fact that you can find a meticulously rendered rendition of the PS Move Shooting Attachment. It’s extraordinary just how much fanservice has been condensed into this package, and it serves as the perfect starting point for the PlayStation 5: a reminder of why you fell in love with the brand to begin with.
But love is a fleeting sensation, and this game’s main aim is to retain your affection. As a platformer, this is a tight effort, with sturdy controls and colourful level design, but its use of the DualSense is what elevates it beyond the sum of its parts. While the best titles rely on that intangible magic known as “game feel” to elevate them above their peers, this extraordinary effort quite literally feels different to anything that’s come before it. Using a combination of the PS5 pad’s haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and motion controls, it offers an additional layer of physical immersion.
This is a game where you can actually feel the difference between a rain shower and a driving downpour or how the texture of sand differs to snow. A section where you assume the role of a bouncing spring allows you to judge the distribution of weight from one side of the controller to another, while firing a machine gun rattles the triggers to give you the sensation of real firepower. A climbing frame sequence requires you to softly caress the triggers; push past the point of resistance and you’ll crumble the grip points.
Every idea is given just enough time to be developed, before it’s ditched and exchanged for something else. There are secrets to discover away from the critical path, and these usually test the skills you’ve learned thus far; the game’s never particularly tough, opting for a relatively breezy challenge, but there’s enough here to tax your ability without ever forcing you into frustration. And a series of unlockable time trial-type levels add longevity once you’re done, with global leaderboards allowing you to test your skills against the wider gaming public.
It all looks and sounds exquisite, too – perhaps not the next-gen showcase that Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls deliver, but crisp and colourful. Reflective surfaces utilise raytracing to add depth to certain objects and scenes, while great art direction gives some sequences more grandeur than you may be expecting – like when the giant from Astro Bot Rescue Mission pops up to help you on your merry way. It’s the tiny details that will delight, though – like when you unlock a PlayStation and realise that by double-jumping on its power button it’ll actually turn on and play that sound effect.
Astro’s Playroom is deserving of every single superlative you’re likely to hear associated with it. As a platformer, it’s a varied and entertaining experience that’s constantly introducing new and exciting ideas over the course of its campaign. And as a DualSense tech demo, it’s similarly effective at showcasing the power and potential of Sony’s new hardware. But perhaps above all, this is a love letter to the legacy of PlayStation, and it feels fitting that as we enter an exciting new chapter from an undeniably iconic gaming brand, we take a moment to remember the milestones that got us to this point.
Hello everyone! Please direct any questions you may have my way!
As someone who loved Rescue Mission, I've been looking forward to this more than Miles, Demon's Souls and Sackboy. Super glad to see it turned out well!
Is there a trophy list?
I’m very much looking forward to this, I’m a big fan of these love letters and Easter eggs and this seems chock full of them. Sure, this won’t be on the same level of content as Astro-Bot but it’s totally free so I’m cool with that!
And it's free, yay. This will be my first played games on ps5
I knew this game would be nothing short of brilliant. Congrats on your first PS5 review!
I said I was going to delete this but have changed my mind 😅 honestly it looks cool and I’ll be giving it a go. Nice review.
Just reading this, I felt the typical Sony flavor of yesteryear, unlike the usual third-party exclusivity claptrap we hear about nowadays.
"Alternate history" doesn't even begin to describe it: an earlier debut in the portable market and more Crash Bandicoot-like games would most likely see me as a die-hard Sony fanboy.
Good for y'all if Sony's giving out this as your first PS5 game by default!
No complaints from me, looks like a really fun and quality pack-in game. Japan Studio are really onto something with these little robot guys
Great article again Sammy, you are on it today!
This is definitely the first game I will play before getting stuck into MM. Hope they do a full fat sequel in the future and in VR of course!
Astro is another iconic PlayStation mascot.this will be the first PlayStation game i play.word up son
@get2sammyb Is there a platinum for this? 😊
Nice to see Japan Studio delivered again. Can't wait to give this a try, it will be the first PS5 game I play.
I can't wait to play this with my daughter, has a new sony mascot been born?
I haven't even played it yet, and I'm already hoping for Astro 2 (or is that 3?) We need more of this kind of "Sony of old" - Sony's lost a lot of the charming titles like this over the years as they chase down AAAA output.
@Auxiliarydex there is a quick look at the trophies in this vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQE8nAYCBsA
and it doesn't look like it has one.
@BearsEatBeets Oh, I actually just noticed later through the video you can see it does have a platinum. Thank you!
@Auxiliarydex Well done. Unobservant me was me looking up by the progress symbols which lacked a platinum one (not sure why?) and failed to notice the big 'card' saying platinum not earned.
Are you able to delete the game off the system or is it stuck on there like The Playroom was?
Some are reporting getting between 2-4 hours of controller life only playing Astro, was this the case for you as well?
@rudecold You can delete it.
@Juanalf Erm, not that short but Astro definitely chews the battery more than other games.
@BearsEatBeets Hahahah, it’s no problem. I’m excited to try and get the platinum! Shouldn’t be too difficult. : D
I know wavelengths are converted into 1's and zeros to represent digitally./ , but, Do modern computers have the ability to convert 1's and 0's into wavelengths at an equal scale as that of the wavelength? Probably not because I think it's infinite, but so how close to 1v1 conversion can we achieve at this moment? Can quantum computers think infinitely? If so , an accurate 1v1 representation of a wavelength can be recreated from nothing and would be undiscernable from reality. Oh my god, the implications.
The PS5 game I'm looking forward to most. Not even kidding.
@get2sammyb, you mention the software is deletable. If i chose to re-download it, I presume this would be done via the PSN store on the console?
This is the game I'm most looking forward to, Astro Bot was easily one of my favourite PS4 games VR or otherwise. Hopefully this encourages them to make this a fully fledged franchise
So happy this will be free forever with PS5, looking forward to trying both it and Bugsnax out at launch!
@AndyKazama Either that or just download it from your PS5 Game Library!
Similar to how it works on PS4.
Fun way to kill time until Demon’s Souls is done baking...
Mmmmmm, Demon’s Souls...
For a free, packed in game this sounds outstanding. Good review 👍
Can't wait to try this controller for myself and feel for myself the extra senses that people say you can feel with it.
Fingers crossed the controller battery life is fairly decent?
this looks amazing! this and Sackboy are exactly my type of game, keep them coming
Hey thats cool,
Yeah... i just hope they take the next step and make a new Ape escape game.
I am absolutely loving this. So many easter eggs.
I got the platinum on Astro today. Lovely game that does an excellent job showcasing DualSense's features. Feeling the drops of the rain or the Frog suit weight is amazing! I hope other games explore the controller as well.
My only complaint on Astro has been the rolling ball levels - not even Japan Studio managed to find a nice use of the touch pad... I mean, it would have been easy to control the ball with the analog sticks, or even with motion control, but no, I have to die 1000 times to control with the touch pad.
This was such a great game. To me it surpasses any modern Mario game in fun-factor and impressiveness. My wife doesn’t like playing games but she absolutely loved this one. We played it all weekend!
This game blew me away, honestly. I didn't know what to expect from it, and found it to be one of the best console-launch games ever.
I really liked the Playstation Labo part as I had no idea Sony has made so many Artefacts in the last 25 years.
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