Astro’s Playroom Review: PS5 Welcome Wagon
In its opening moments, Astro’s Playroom literally describes itself as a tutorial. Specifically, it explains that the Playroom’s light and lighthearted platforming levels are a means of showing off the special features of the PlayStation 5‘s new DualSense controller. Some, like the adaptive triggers, haptic feedback, and built-in microphone, are new. Others, like the touchpad and the gyroscope, are not. But they all distinguish the DualSense from its Xbox- and Nintendo-based counterparts. While Astro’s Playroom absolutely goes out of its way to offer clever proof of the PS5’s potential–the DualSense’s new tricks, the improved visuals, the quick load times–the disembodied text at the start of the game sells Astro short. Playroom is an incredibly charming jaunt through a PlayStation-inspired digital theme park, ensuring that your first hop, skip, and jump of the PS5 era is wholly, unequivocally joyful.
Astro’s world–the literal playroom–is a cartoon fantasy-style interpretation of the PlayStation 5. The game’s four levels and hub world are all named after the console’s components, like “GPU Jungle” and “Cooling Springs.” Inside, each is a dreamlike PlayStation playground; your typical platforming level locales, like “beach,” “city,” and “meadow,” are decorated with computer chips and parts of PlayStations past woven into their fabric. Each one is densely packed with fun little scenes and interactive set-dressing. Astro’s adorable bot friends hang out, play games, and cosplay as some of the platform’s iconic characters, making every adventure feel like a party, too. Having the PlayStation hype-train baked into every nook and cranny of the world could have felt overbearing, but it’s all very endearing. The level design is more clever than cloying, and the bots are all very cute and their happy vibes are surprisingly contagious.
The PlayStation references are tied to collectibles, which fill up an interactive museum space called “PlayStation Labo.” As you find puzzle pieces that turn to PlayStation-themed murals and giant virtual models, the space quickly turns into a very concentrated nostalgia hit for fans of PlayStation’s history. It also gives you a place to use all the coins you’ve been grabbing: There’s a gacha machine in the back that will sell you even more collectibles. That gives you a reason to go, but I found this to be the rare game where I actually wanted to survey the collectibles after I found them. That’s partially because I enjoyed walking around and jumping on the giant PlayStation memorabilia, but it’s also because the space, full of bots playing with PlayStation gear, felt more engaging than a plain menu or empty “viewing” space.Continue Reading at GameSpot
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