Astro’s Playroom review for PS5.
Nintendo has Mario, Sega has Sonic, Microsoft has Master Chief, but Sony never really latched onto a single character to represent its brand (no, Toro and Polygon Guy don’t count). This changed when Sony embraced Astro Bot as the pseudo-mascot of the PSVR, and he quickly became a fan favorite. Now, Astro is back in the PS5 pack-in game Astro’s Playroom, which serves as an introduction to the system, specifically its new controller, the DualSense.
The fact that the PlayStation 5 comes with a pack-in game is astounding itself. That’s a trend that died with the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, and this is the first time Sony has included a full game with its console at launch. Astro’s Playroom isn’t a hundred-hour open-world epic. Still, it is an intensely fun, light-hearted introduction to the new features the PS5 offers, that rivals Wii Sports as a showcase of its new hardware.
Astro’s Playroom is essentially a journey through the PS5 hardware itself. There are four different worlds, each of which represents an aspect of the console. Cooling Springs takes players through watery settings, Memory Meadows contains grassy fields and fluffy clouds, GPU Jungle is populated by trees and ancient ruins, and SSD Speedway is space-themed. Completing these areas unlocks a fifth, hidden area that contains a few surprises for players and a surprisingly tough boss fight.
There’s no overarching story here. Astro and his bot friends aren’t in any danger, and there’s no plot-based impetus to proceed other than the fact that you’re having fun. However, long-time PlayStation fans will have a blast. The game contains tons of little easter eggs throughout each level with the bots acting out iconic scenes as characters from throughout the platform’s history. There are also artifacts players can collect which unlock highly-detailed models of PlayStation hardware and puzzle pieces that form a mural. Once unlocked, these collectibles appear in the PlayStation Labo and are interactable.
I was able to platinum the game is around eight hours or so, but I had a blast the whole time I was playing. I sincerely hope that Astro’s Playroom is expanded into a larger game at some point. I would love a classic 3D platformer that dives further into the PlayStation platform’s history with Astro at the helm.
Showcasing the PS5 DualSense
While Astro’s Playroom is a full game, its primary purpose is to demo the DualSense, and it does a great job. The haptic feedback is constantly pulsing to the beat of the music, channeling the thrust of a rocket or simply emulating the tippy-taps of Astro’s little feet. The adaptive triggers are also used to significant effect here. Players can feel the springiness when Astro dons his frog suit or the clickiness of a button when he’s activating his rockets thrust.
However, Astro’s Playroom‘s most impressive feat is when all of the controller’s features are used in tandem. With the gumball minigun, for example, players can feel each shot with the haptics, the recoil through the adaptive triggers, and the sound of the gun firing through the DualSense’s vastly improved speaker. The synergy between the various functions of the controller enhances the effect of each and makes using the DualSense a unique experience.
Astro’s Playroom Review | The Final Verdict
It’s hard to put a score on a pack-in game like Astro’s Playroom because it’s free. If someone buys a PS5, they get a copy. It’s that simple. However, this game isn’t just a throwaway or a gimmick. It’s got a lot of heart and contains a ton of collectibles and easter eggs that PlayStation fans will adore.
The only downsides to Astro’s Playroom are that it is fairly short, and it could have used a little plot to tie the whole thing together. However, for the price, it can’t be beaten, and it’s a must-play for those booting up their PS5 for the first time.