Astro’s Playroom is a launch game that comes bundled with PS5 and it’s a cute and fun journey through PlayStation history plus demonstrates the capabilities of the PlayStation 5 Dualsense controller perfectly. There’s a feelgood factor here, so much so that you might be fooled into thinking Nintendo made it. The following is my review of Astro’s Playroom.
Astro has previously been on adventures in PSVR, however, this time it’s his job to show off what the PS5 can do. Astro previously starred in Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, and at first, there were eyebrows raised as to why Astro was coming out of VR and back onto the flat screen. Well, fears can be put away because this is a fantastic platformer in its own right with personality, graphics, audio and a dose of nostalgia too.
Astro has so much character in his own right, he’s almost plucked straight from a Pixar movie. He’s expressive, he smiled and his eyes are full of life. If you leave him alone for a little while, he’ll start waving. He’s charming and it’s easy to fall in love with the little guy from the start.
Sony’s history is plastered all over Astro’s Playroom and feels like a massive celebration of the last 25 years of Sony’s achievements since the original PlayStation. Astro plays with a PS Vita if you leave him be for a few minutes, and the world’s themselves are styled on PlayStation generations. There’s a bunch of PlayStation collectables to be found in each world, so if you’ve grown up through the PlayStation generations then there’s plenty here for you. If you’re a younger player and this is your first experience, then you’ll likely be dazzled by the graphics and the new controller, but there’s plenty in here for older audiences too.
I’ve already compared this game to something that Nintendo or Pixar would be proud of, and for good reason. First of all the platforming feels great in its own right, with Atro being very responsive and feeling great – perhaps due to the success of the DualSense controller. Ice skating has never been more fun! The feeling of Astro jumping, flying through the air and landing feels great and is up there with any great 3d platformer of the last 10 years.
The game, in essence, is a showcase of the PlayStation DualSense. As you platform and navigate through the different areas of the game you’re going to feel that right in your hand. Whether you’re walking around on sand or grass or skating on ice, you’re going to feel it right there in your hands. It’s something that’s hard to convey through reviews and youtube videos, but if you get the chance to experience this haptic feedback then it’s very much worthwhile.
It’ll be interesting to see over time how many other developers work this tech into their games. No doubt Sony Studios will be using the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback in their flagship titles like God of War: Ragnorok, Ratchet & Clank and Horizon: Forbidden West. A particular highlight of the DualSense is using the touchpad to zip something up early on in the game, where you can feel every tooth of the zip as it climbs. It’s an amazing feeling. You could almost compare the feeling of the DualSense to the first time you try on a VR headset, it’s very impressive and everyone should seek out the experience to at least try it out.
As well as the Haptic Feedback there’s also the triggers to contend with related to the DualSense. Team Asobi has done a great job with the controller. It’s probably worth noting at this point this is a team who create the hardware for Sony, so they have been directly involved with the design and build of the controller itself, so as well as creating amazing VR and platforming experiences, they’re also a genius team when it comes to hardware.
The DualSense is perhaps the differentiator that may decide purchases between the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. In the previous generation, there wasn’t much to split them, but this time around we have the controller. When Sony first came out and mentioned they were investing in something called ‘Haptic Feedback’, I think many thought it would be a gimmick and perhaps something just like ‘HD Rumble’. But this feels different, literally. It’s a great feature and could be the deciding factor for many.
Astro’s Playroom is a great showcase for the PlayStation 5. It’s one of the best-bundled games that comes with a system I have ever seen and it’s a heartwarming, fun introduction to your brand new console generation. This one may have flown under the radar when other big-hitters like Demon Souls and Spiderman: Miles Morales may have been stealing the headlines, but this one is worth your time and attention. You’ll come for the DualSense demo, but Astro will more than likely charm you into staying to hand out with him and his friends.
Developer: Sony Japan Studio / Team Asobi
Release Date: 19th November 2020 (UK)