It’s no secret that PlayStation has some of the most talented first-party studios out of anyone in the world. Many gamers are familiar with the names Naughty Dog, Santa Monica Studios, Guerrilla Games, and Sucker Punch Productions but one PlayStation team that I think is on the rise is Team Asobi. This team is housed inside PlayStation’s Japan Studio and brought us games on the PlayStation 4 such as The Playroom, The Playroom VR, and Astro Bot: Rescue Mission. That last one was a PlayStation VR game released back in 2018 and it was one of the biggest surprises of that year for myself and many others. It was a 3D platformer that had a magic to it that you would normally only experience in a Nintendo platformer. While I still think that game is one of the best platformers of all-time, I did wonder whether it would be just as magical if it was played on a traditional TV screen. Well, Team Asobi must have heard me because they have just delivered Astro’s Playroom, a new 3D platformer that comes installed on everyone’s PlayStation 5. This game not only shows off what the new PlayStation 5 DualSense controller can do, but also that this team understands how to craft an excellent platformer full of PlayStation love.
Astro’s Playroom isn’t as long as Astro Bot: Rescue Mission but considering it comes free with your new console that isn’t such a bad thing. The game is still longer than I expected it to be leading up to launch as the four worlds made up of sixteen levels took me around three or four hours to finish. You can then get a couple more out of it probably if you go back to find every little secret there is to find in the game or to compete with other player’s online times but more on that in a bit. Now since this game is a shorter experience and every PlayStation 5 owner will have it available to them, I recommend this be the first game you play on the console. That’s because it really shows off what the new DualSense controller can do as every level in the game is built around some kind of functionality inside the controller.
Upon jumping into the Cooling Springs level, I didn’t have to play long before feeling just how next-gen this controller is. Walking on the sand in this level provides feedback in the controller that actually feels like you’re on sand. Later in the level you’ll be in a frog robot suit equipped with a spring on the bottom of it. By holding the R2 trigger down you’ll press that spring down to jump and as you are doing it you feel the resistance in the trigger. Similar feelings are conveyed when you walk on ice, have water droplets falling on you, and other things that I won’t spoil. These feelings that I got from this controller are hard to describe in text but when you actually feel it for yourself, you’ll see just how much of a game changer the DualSense controller can be. It really makes me hope that as many developers as possible use the feature set inside this controller in their games.
Astro once again controls really well in this game although our adorable robot friend doesn’t have as deep a move set as a certain plumber does. Astro can jump, punch enemies, and perform a spin attack but that’s about it for the main move set. That was never a problem though as the game is constantly introducing new things for you to use to show off that controller and it feels really good all the way through. Every level has you trying to reach the goal at the end while collecting gold coins along the way. Puzzle pieces are hidden about in each level too that when collected will fill in murals back in the HUB area. Time trial levels can be unlocked later and competing with others online to see who can finish a level in the best time can be quite addictive. The PlayStation 5 even gives me notifications when I get online if someone on my friends list beat my score which makes me want to keep jumping back in to take my spot back.
There are other hidden special collectibles in the levels too that I won’t spoil but they play into the other part of this game and that is how it is a love letter to PlayStation fans everywhere. Every level is full of references and Easter eggs to hardware and games that have released over the course of PlayStation’s 25-year history. To name them here would be ruining a big part of what makes this game special but know that if you’re a fan of many of PlayStation’s games over the years then you’ll likely see some kind of nod to it in this game. I’ve been playing on PlayStation for pretty much as long as they’ve been around and seeing every single one of these things kept a smile on my face while I was playing. Trust me when I say you should go into this game seeing as little about it as possible.
Astro’s Playroom is also fantastic on the technical side. For starters, the load times are super-fast thanks to the SSD so getting into and out of levels never has you waiting. Even better is that if you find that you missed some collectibles and want to go back to get them then pulling up the Activities menu will give you options to instantly jump to where you need to go. The game runs at a full 4K resolution and a smooth 60fps as well and it makes great use of its color palette and lighting. The soundtrack is catchy and playful just as you would expect from a platformer and the 3D audio really helps add to the immersion. The speaker on the DualSense controller plays a lot of sounds out of it which is something I always enjoy and each one is done really well here to help add to the experience. The trophy hunters out there will even find 46 trophies here including a Platinum. It’s a very easy list and you’ll have a lot of fun obtaining this Platinum.
Astro’s Playroom is the perfect game to play first to kick off the PlayStation 5 generation. It’s a fluid and fun 3D platformer sure, but it being built around showing off what the DualSense controller can add to gaming Is what really starts to make it special. Add in all of the PlayStation love letters scattered about inside these worlds and you have another magical, must-play experience from Team Asobi. I wish Astro’s latest adventure lasted longer but I have no doubt that we’ll be seeing more of the new PlayStation mascot in the future.
*Astro’s Playroom is available now on PlayStation 5. Reviewed on PS5. Review copy was played using the pre-installed version on the PlayStation 5.
- Fun 3D platformer with fantastic DualSense implementation
- Excellent visual style running at 60fps with fast load times
- Cheery, catchy soundtrack and great 3D audio implementation
- Fans will love all of the PlayStation history that this game is full of
- It's free!
- Only lasts a few hours