Ever since PlayStation 4 released, Astro Bot has been starring in some truly excellent games and his latest PS5 adventure is a real hoot.
First of all; yes, Astro's Playroom is a completely free game that comes pre-installed on PlayStation 5 which is just awesome. This follows in the footsteps of The Playroom which came free with PS4 although Astro's Playroom is miles more fun. In fact, it's so impressive that I'm surprised it's free and it acts as a welcome bonus incentive to purchase a PS5. Not only that, as I discussed in my PlayStation 5 First Impressions Review, it's a wonderful showcase for what the new DualSense controller is capable of as it shows off its adaptive triggers and haptic feedback features in very clever ways. Feeling Astro's footsteps as he scampers around and squeezing R2 with some resistance while shooting a toy gun with feedback after every shot offers a new layer of immersion to gaming that I didn't think was possible. It's a great time to be a gamer and Astro's Playroom makes me excited to see what the future holds for the next generation of games.
I sure said a lot without even describing how Astro's Playroom plays so let's get to it. It's essentially a 3D platformer that contains a couple of hub areas as well as 4 levels. Each level doubles as a showcase of a PS5 hardware feature as well as features collectibles from a particular era of PlayStation's history. Collecting things such as UMDs, consoles, controllers, and peripherals is incredibly rewarding and will make any long-time PlayStation fan gleeful as they discover new treasures tucked away within the elaborately-designed stages.
Although Astro's Playroom is a 3D platformer, it's full of variety and each level will have you partaking in enjoyable scenarios that feature their own gameplay gimmick such as a suit that lets you bounce around, a ball that you can roll with the touchpad, a little rocket ship controlled with the adaptive triggers, and a monkey transformation that'll have you carefully scaling walls. There's so much variety that I'm sure I'm missing a lot out but you get the idea. It all comes together to make for one fun formula that never gets boring.
Astro's Playroom not only has fantastic and varied gameplay as well as rewarding collectibles, it's also bursting with game references. There are so many of them that it's absurd but just off the top of my head, I saw a cute robot struggling with carrying packages like Sam does in Death Stranding, Pyramid Head dragging a poor little robot around, Ratchet trying to hold onto a bunch of nuts and bolts, and a bot cosplaying as Jin Sakai from Ghost of Tsushima. You may even run into the T-Rex dinosaur that starred in a tech demo for the original PlayStation back in 1994. Talk about obscure! Anyway, these references are just awesome for PlayStation fans.
Finally, Astro's Playroom is a top-notch game but it does have its shortcomings. Even though it's densely-packed, it is an extremely short game that can easily be completed in 1 sitting. However, trying to master time trials and collect everything definitely offers a great deal of replay value if you care for such things. Next, I found some enemies to be much more annoying than others. For example, little robots that are electrified run around and if you simply touch one of them, you bite the dust. Now, imagine what that's like when a whole horde of enemy robots are swarming around and cornering you. Finally, even though I enjoyed all of the various gimmicks, some of them overstay their welcome with lengthy segments that made me want to go back to the platforming halfway through.
Astro's Playroom is perhaps the best pre-installed console launch game that I've ever played. In fact, it's so good that it provides even more incentive to get your hands on a PlayStation 5.
- + Awesome 3D platforming with a ton of variety and clever mechanics
- + Shows off the DualSense very well
- + Oodles of references and goodies to unlock
- - Fairly short with only 4 stages
- - Some enemies can be pretty annoying
- - Certain gimmicks overstay their welcome