Sony Interactive Entertainment
Every new generation needs a proper introduction. Often, launch titles can be forgettable and lame (Anybody remember Knack? No? Well they made two of them. Somebody at Sony REALLY likes that IP), but when done well, a launch title can define the success of an entire console and the public image. And by god, Astro’s Playroom may be the best launch title/ tech demo ever created for a console. Yes, it’s THAT good.
For what is ostensibly a tech demo, Astro’s Playroom is a decent length too. It took me around four hours to earn every trophy and collect that coveted platinum trophy. What bears remembering is, while four hours may not seem a lot, this is a completely free experience and one that comes packaged with every single PS5. Most games where you have to collect a lot of items bore me after a while and become tedious, but Astro’s Playroom makes it feel engaging and always fun to do. You collect various artifacts of Playstation throughout the game, elements of the history of the console. In one level you may find the Playstation Eyetoy, in another, you’ll find the PSVR. It’s a great time to collect an artifact and realise you remember that from your childhood. You also collect puzzle pieces throughout the game to fill out a canvas of Playstation history. The entire game is beautiful too, visually stunning and striking. It feels like a Pixar movie in many ways, very cute and very innocent.
Throughout the game, there are tons of references to various PlayStation games of years past. God Of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Resident Evil, Days Gone, just to name a few. I audibly gasped when I found Cloud’s buster sword from Final Fantasy VII. It’s magical to see references to old favourites, and newly created classics. On a gameplay level, Astro’s Playroom is a very basic platformer. You have a double jump, a spin attack and you’ll gain various other abilities throughout the levels. But as a core concept, Astro’s Playroom is truly about showing off the new technology that the PS5 has to offer, and showing the player what the controller in their hands can truly do.
The game takes full advantage of the new PS5 hardware too. The loading times are non-existent, thanks to the console’s new internal SSD. The controls feel wholly intuitive, with the new haptic feedback in the DualSense controller allowing for some incredible moments throughout the game. It’s impossible to state how good the controller feels, the haptic feedback is tantalising. In the future, there’s SO much they could do with this technology.
Astro’s Playroom is a perfect way to introduce the PS5, and a great way to show off the capabilities of both the console itself and the incredible DualSense controller. Hopefully, Sony understands the insane amount of talent in Asobi Team and allows them to make a fully-fledged Astro game (and yes I’m aware of Astro Bot Rescue Mission, I played it. I mean a traditional platformer). I’d like to see more of this cute robot, and I hope Sony doesn’t let him gather dust for too long before they approve a new project.