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Astro’s Playroom Review – Pure Fan Service

Astro’s Playroom is the first game that I had the experience of playing on the PlayStation 5 and, as much as you might be tempted to jump straight into Spider-Man Miles Morales or Demon’s Souls, I’d urge you to make it the first game that you play through as well.

It does as good a job of making you feel excited about the DualSense controller as Wii Sports did for the Wii Remote, which in my opinion is what a pack-in game should do. As you’ve probably seen in the Cooling Springs level, which is the only thing we could show you before today, each level is broken up into four sections, with each level giving you control of a different gadget that takes advantage of a certain DualSense feature.

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Quite frankly, the game does the best job in showcasing things like the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers of the controller than any other that I’ve played so far. It also gives me hope that the microphone and the improved touchpad will be used more effectively in games by other developers.

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The game does, at times, definitely lean into being a tech demo, focusing more on what that controller can go over gameplay, but there were definitely times where I felt that, not unlike Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, some of the platforming and creativity in this game was above any other platformer that I’ve played in recent years.

The game is filled with PlayStation homages. In each level, you’ll find a dozen or so PlayStation game scenes recreations. I had just as much fun figuring out what some of them were, but almost every franchise was covered off from Ape Escape to Ghost of Tsushima.

I’m really trying hard not to spoil anything, or talk about anything that hasn’t been shown already because the joy of this is just sitting through the two to three hours that the main game takes to get through before a few special surprises that Team Asobi have carefully put together are thrown at you. I was genuinely left grinning ear to ear at the end of the game.

Honestly, more than anything, this game made me miss the platformers of the PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2, and I really hope that this developer, in particular, gets the chance to make a fully-fledged platformer because just as the game feels like it’s starting to come into its own, and as it starts to break free of its tutorial-like levels, it sadly comes to an end.

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Once you’ve gone through the main game, there are fifty PlayStation collectibles to find. These range from the actual consoles themselves to random accessories that I didn’t even know existed like the PSP Microphone. They’re all beautifully rendered in 3D, and most of them are interactive when they get placed in the PlayStation Labo area.

You’ll also have roughly 100 puzzle pieces that you can find throughout the levels (and the incredibly clever Gacha machine), which will fill out murals through PlayStation Labo. There’s also a number of scenes that you can unlock that will place even more PlayStation goodness throughout the world.

Visually, the game is an absolute delight. It runs at 4K/60 FPS (to be expected), but it’s so full of colour with each level having a good variety of locations. If you’ve purchased a new TV in preparation of your shiny, new console, you’ll definitely have your socks blown off as you play through.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is a great game to show off your shiny new PlayStation 5 to family and friends. Popping the DualSense controller into absolutely anyone’s hands and letting them run through the tutorial will be enough to understand why the $750 purchase was a worthy one.

THE PS5 VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS TESTED FOR THE REVIEW.
Conclusion
As a free pack-in game, Astro's Playroom is a great showcase of the new DualSense controller. More importantly though, it goes above and beyond in celebrating the history of PlayStation. There's throwbacks to PlayStation's greatest games and moments at every turn and it's a genuine delight from start to finish.
Positives
A great showcase of the DualSense controller
Visually stunning
All of the PlayStation history
Negatives
Leans into being a tech demo at certain times
Ends just as it gets going
8.5
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