Astro’s Playroom: Our intro to Next Gen

Since the PS5 is finally here, Sony needed a game to showcase the bold new steps taken, and usher players into their next generation of consoles. For that, they turned to Japan Studios to give us Astro’s Playroom, a puzzle platformer designed to harness the features of the PS5 dual sense controller. 

In this game, you take control of Captain Astro and you explore four main worlds with four levels each. Each world is a reference to a PlayStation generation and though they can be played in any order, chronologically it’s Memory Meadow; The original PlayStation era 1995 to 2000, SSD Speedway:PS2 era 2001 to 2006, Cooling Springs: PS3 era 2006 to 2013 and GPU Jungle: PS4 era 2013 to 2019. There is also a bonus world called 1994 throwback.

You play through and complete each world by getting from point A to B and it’s far more entertaining than it sounds. Along the way you can collect artifacts, puzzle pieces that form a mural for all PlayStation generations and if you keep your eyes peeled, you can spot easter eggs from famous PlayStation exclusives (or former exclusives). All the collectables you find can be seen in the PlayStation Labo and are references to PlayStation consoles of all generations (including PS vita and PSP).

Gameplay

Gameplay is magnificent with the dual sense controller and it is best experienced with haptic feedback on (though it’s still a great game without it but it was developed for that purpose). The game shines with the controller, taking advantage of every feature it has from the adaptive triggers that give you the drag sensation as you pull on the arrow and a satisfactory feel once you release. When it comes to gameplay mechanics and the dual sense controller, it’s important to note two suits.

First, the Robotic Monkey suit from GPU Jungle. It’s amazing how the developer infused the game with the feedback. In this level, you must climb up walls, using the triggers with each trigger representing a hand, then you are to move the controller either left or right to climb up the walls. Some of these walls are fragile and require you to grab the triggers lightly or the wall could crumble and fall. The second suit is the Frog suit from Cooling Springs that uses the speakers and haptic feedback to mimic the feel of the coil of the spring as you jump. There are two other suits, one of which will have you flying through space in a small spaceship and the other will have you rolling in a ball.

Other notable mentions of the use of the controller include how it feels when Astro walks through mud or when Astro moves through water (especially with the sounds from the controller in water). There is rumble when hail falls on Astro and things like rain cause vibrations which increases as the rain does. There are instances where you have to blow into the microphone to get things moving too. All these features coupled with the sounds from the speaker make good use of the new dual sense controller and it makes for an immersive experience though if you find these features too distracting, you can turn them off as highlighted earlier.

Credit : IGN

Astro’s Playroom vs Astro Bots Rescue Mission

Like the 2018 game, Astro’s Playroom is designed to show off the features of the new dual sense controller and just like Astro Bots Rescue Mission brought players an excellent PSVR experience, Astro’s Playroom shows how great the dual sense controller is. While Astro Bots Rescue Mission will take you between 7 to 10 hours to beat, Astro’s Playroom is significantly shorter with 3 to 6 hours of gameplay. Hence while Astro Bots Rescue Mission might be considered a full game, Astro’s Playroom is more like a short experience that was created just for the dual sense controller and a tribute to PlayStation history, but this doesn’t make it any less interesting. Both games offer fun and amazing platform games in 3D environments and they are great to play. The only problem with Astro’s Playroom is that it’s short and it leaves you wanting more which isn’t a serious issue.

Astro’s Playroom Multiplayer

Unfortunately, Astro’s Playroom doesn’t support multiplayer and this limits your gameplay options after completing the game, but this doesn’t mean it’s all over. Astro’s Playroom offers a time attack mode where you have to finish the level as fast as you can. This offers something to keep you entertained even after completing the game.

Astro’s Playroom Price tag

Yes, it was developed for users to experience all the new features of the dual sense controller but after you play Astro’s Playroom, you can’t help but feel amazed that you got the game for free. Astro’s Playroom is free as long as you have the PS5. Considering how entertaining this game is and how much was put into it in terms of gameplay and easter eggs, you would not have been surprised if it cost few dollars and it still would be a beloved classic.

Verdict

A fantastic launch title and a great introduction to the dual sense controller

PlayStation wanted to mark a new era in a big way and they took bold steps in the right direction. Astro’s Playroom is just the game to attract the next generation and the fact that it’s free and preinstalled makes it almost impossible to miss. Japan Studio and Team Asobi worked hard to make an amazing game that could have easily sold as a standalone title. It is very clear that the developers took time to study the new dual sense controller, its inner workings and put it to good use in their game.

Though it’s short, Astro’s Playroom delivers even more depth than some existing platformers while giving you a full fill of the dual sense controller. It’s colorful, playful environment makes the game fun and the mechanics are great. 

Overall, Astro’s Playroom is a phenomenal game, and it shouldn’t be missed not just because it’s free but because of how much it uses the dual sense controller. It’s no doubt that it will be a fan favorite for PS5 gamers.

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