New Game Review

Review – Astro Bot: Rescue Mission (PSVR)

Where can I buy an Astro Bot of my own?

Have you ever played a game that just makes you feel happy and good about life? Have you ever played a game that you can clearly say it was truly innovative and memorable?  No? Meet Astro Bot: Rescue Mission. Not only is this game the best title to be released for the Playstation VR, or one of the best games in recent years, this is one of the best and most important platformers ever made.

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You’re so cute! I just want to squeeze you.

The premise for Astro Bot is simple. You control a little robot through linear levels, and your goal is to reach the end of the stage while rescuing as many bot buddies as you can along the way. It’s a straightforward 3D platformer with very simple controls and the most obvious point-A-to-B objective a game can get. How can this considered innovative and important? It’s the way the developers deliver this easy premise.

I can’t think of a more comfortable usage of the PSVR than Astro Bot without compromising immersion or overall interactivity. The game is played in a hybrid first/third-person perspective. It might sound weird, but hear me out. You control both the titular Astro Bot in third-person and a bigger mother bot in first-person, through the eyes of the PSVR visor and the Dualshock 4’s motion controls.

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Wall-E on acid.

While Astro Bot: Rescue Mission features an automatic camera scrolling, not unlike a linear Crash Bandicoot level, you can move your head around in order to look for little bots and secrets. While the path to the end goal is linear and pretty obvious, secrets and branching paths are well scattered throughout levels and it’s up to you to look for them with your own eyes, all while paying attention to depth and distance. You can also look for a hidden chameleon in each level who will unlock a brand new challenge level when you spot it.

The Astro Bot itself can only perform simple functions such as jumping, hovering, and some basic attacks. But the mother bot can pick up upgrades such as a grappling hook that can create tightropes for the Astro Bot to walk on as well as using its head (in this case your head) to destroy obstacles scattered throughout the level. It’s such a simple idea of immersing the player into the game without compromising movement and comfort that I can’t help but praise the developers for showcasing how to do a VR game right.

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It looks a lot better when you’re using the visor.

While later levels gradually become more and more challenging, Astro Bot rarely feels frustrating. The only exception in this case lies on the challenge levels, which not only are designed to kick your butt, but also award you based on how quickly you can reach the end goal. Suffice to say, you’ll replay those levels a few times each in order to grab the best medals.

In terms of visuals and sound, Astro Bot knocks it out of the park. The visuals are crisp, colorful and boast a phenomenally high framerate. The Astro Bot itself is probably one of the most adorable characters I’ve ever seen in a video game, and its animations are superb, especially when you look at it and it sends you the cutest “hello” right back at you, melting your icy heart in the process. The visuals are only hindered by one thing that’s not even the game’s fault, that thing being the severe limitations imposed by the PSVR’s often pixelated display.

The sound design is absolutely flawless. I couldn’t find a single issue. Not only is the shinny happy funky soundtrack something that makes anyone smile from ear to ear after a mere ten seconds, but the way the designers used the PSVR’s 3D sound capabilities was equally great. The game perfectly utilizes this feature to throw audio hints at where robot buddies are hidden. Not only does this work to grab your attention, but the way those little bots shout for help is so cute and heartbreaking you feel nearly obligated to find them as quickly as possible.

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Hey Sony, I know you and Nintendo ain’t BFFs but you didn’t need to make Donkey Kong a boss!

I’m lost for words how Astro Bot: Rescue Mission has managed to impress me. This is purely and simply an equal work of technological innovation and passion for the medium. My only gripe with Astro Bot is the fact that not enough people will get to experience it due to the cost-prohibitive nature of the PSVR add-on. If you have a PSVR and still don’t own this game, you should. If you have a PS4, but you don’t have a PSVR to play this game, you should. You’ll most certainly thank me later.

 

Graphics: 9.5

Astro Bot does a fantastic job of providing players with colorful and well-detailed visuals given the limitations of the PSVR’s screen resolution.

Gameplay: 10

The Astro Bot character features simple but very responsive controls. The game’s simple but effective use of your head and the motion controls is genius.

Sound: 10

Incredibly catchy tunes coupled with a clever use of 3D sound effects to tell you where your bot buddies are hidden.

Fun Factor: 9.5

With the exception of a few frustrating, albeit optional, challenge levels Astro Bot is pure fun.

Final Verdict: 9.5

Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is available now on PSVR.

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About Leo Faria

Founder and mastermind behind Way Too Many Games, hailing from the southern swag that is São Paulo, a Sega widower who considers the Dreamcast to be the greatest console ever released, the greatest Guitar Hero and Tetris player you’ll ever meet. My favorite games include Perfect Dark, Banjo-Tooie, the Guitar Hero series, Bioshock Infinite and Star Wars Rogue Squadron II. I also own an Ouya. Never turned it on.

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