Review – Astro’s Playroom

The Playstation 5 is a beast of a machine, offering lightning fast loading times and gorgeous visuals and resolutions thanks to its sheer horsepower. But that’s not my favorite thing about the new console, though. My favorite innovation featured in Sony’s new system is its brand new controller, the Dualsense. Not only is this thing comfortable like no other Dualshock before it, but it features tons of gimmicks I’ve briefly mentioned in some other PS5 game reviews, like the amazing usage of haptic feedback in DIRT 5. There is one game that takes all of this controller’s capabilities to a whole new level, however: the pack-in title that comes preinstalled in every single Playstation 5, Astro’s Playroom.

If you don’t find this game charming, you might be dead on the inside.

A sort of spinoff and/or follow-up to 2018’s Astro Bot: Rescue Mission (aka the best PSVR game ever made), Astro’s Playroom is a 3D platformer set inside the innards of a Playstation 5 system, boasting the console as a place where magic happens. Basically, a less corporate Disney World. There are four worlds to explore, each one representing one of the PS5’s major features (such as SSD, ray tracing, and so on), and each one being absolutely packed with references to classic Playstation franchises and Playstation hardware, called “Artifacts” in here.

Each world is comprised of three linear levels, the first of them being an entirely traditional 3D platforming experience, the second having you don a special suit that will make you use one of the Dualsense’s various gimmicks in order to move it, and the last one being a mix of both. Your objective is simple: reach the end of the third level and collect one of the sacred artifacts, represented by one of the four previous Playstation consoles. You can also find other smaller, but not less special artifacts scattered throughout each world, all of them being a specific console acessory, such as the SingStar microphone, the PSVR, the PSOne’s portable screen, and so on.

This isn’t a nostalgia bomb. This is a nostalgia supernova.

The standard platforming levels feature the same exact controls and physics from Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, but with a more Crash Bandicoot-esque camera perspective. Nothing too overly spectacular in terms of being revolutionary gameplay-wise, but each level is so freaking well-designed, and so packed with secrets to unveil, that I did not matter at all. Every single section is gorgeous to look at, and filled with little Astro Bots dressed as characters from classic Playstation franchises, such as Uncharted, Jak, Ratchet & Clank, and even Ghost of Tsushima. Some of them are also dressed as characters from third-party franchises that have a strong connection with the Playstation brand, such as Cloud from Final Fantasy VII and Jill Valentine from the original Resident Evil. One of them is even driving a remote car from Ridge Racer! Remember that one?

The real kicker lies in the vehicular segments, as they take advantage of the Dualsense’s gimmicky features, such as its haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, a trackpad that doesn’t suck, and gyro aiming. Those segments are super short, but they are a great proof of concept to showcase what this stupidly comfortable controller is capable of. There are other small puzzles that utilize the Dualsense’s gimmicks scattered throughout the more traditional levels, such as having to blow on the controller’s microphone in order to kickstart a propeller. It’s nowhere near as intrusive as you would expect, actually adding an extra layer of immersion to the experience.

Unlike the joycons, aiming with the Dualsense’s gyro controls feels great.

The controls are great, the visuals are great, the atmosphere is amazing, but the best thing about Astro’s Playroom, just like its PSVR counterpart, is its soundtrack. I have no idea how ASOBI Team managed to pull this off, but they’ve managed to outdo Astro Bot‘s already pristine soundtrack in every conceivable way. Not only that, but they’ve also used the Dualsense’s speakers in very intelligent ways, improving the game’s overall level of immersion of a combination of sound effects and haptic feedback.

The only thing that hinders Astro’s Playroom from being the single best game in the Playstation 5’s launch lineup is the fact that, at its core, it’s still a tech demo of sorts, a proof of concept. You can beat the game in less than two hours. The inclusion of a staggering amount of collectibles does increase its lasting appeal, but I couldn’t help but want more levels, puzzles and cameos after beating the final boss. It’s such a great little game, I wanted more from it.

What is this place???

Astro’s Playroom is more than just a well-crafted proof of concept, it’s a phenomenal 3D platformer in its own right that perfectly showcases the capabilities of the Dualsense and the visual prowess of the Playstation 5. Too bad this game ended up being so short, as I wanted to experience more of this charming love letter to the Playstation brand and its 26 years in the market. I really hope ASOBI Team decides to make more games starring this adorable little robot in the future. It does have the potential to become the Playstation brand’s mascot, what Mario is to Nintendo.


Graphics: 9.5

It’s adorable, it’s colorful, it’s chock-full of detail, it’s well-animated, and it runs like a dream. You can’t help but utter an “awww” everytime the titular Astro Bot waves at you with the cutest face in the universe.

Gameplay: 9.5

The same control scheme featured in PSVR’s Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, with the addition of brand new gimmicks to showcase the capabilities of the PS5’s controller.

Sound: 10

Just like Astro Bot before it, Astro’s Playroom features an incredibly catchy soundtrack and excellent usage of the Dualsense’s speakers.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Astro’s Playroom is more than just a proof of concept, it’s a phenomenal 3D platformer that perfectly showcases the capabilities of the Dualsense. It’s also charming as heck. Too bad it’s just way too short, even if it’s packed with collectibles.

Final Verdict: 9.0

Astro’s Playroom is available now on PS5.

Reviewed on PS5.