The first game that I had to load up and play when I got my PS5 hooked up was Astro’s Playroom. This is a pack-in title (yes, still a thing in 2020) that is used as a tech demo for the new Dual Sense controller. It also does a wonderful job of providing a warm blanket of nostalgia for anyone familiar with the history of PlayStation.
I grew up admiring video games and saving up my own money to hopefully buy a console at different points in my life. I didn’t have parents that would just buy me anything I wanted, so it was up to my brother and I to take on this monumental task. I saw the original PlayStation game console at a Sears in my local mall. It was on the second floor in the electronics section, attached to a TV on top of a glass display case that housed other electronic devices that time forgot. My brother and I, and sometimes a friend of ours, would ride our bikes to the store to get our hands on the console and demo disk running on the system. We’d play matches of Twisted Metal and dream of having one for ourselves. It ended up being one of our close friends that scored the first PlayStation, we’d go over all the time to play Resident Evil and try to speed run the game. Eventually I was able to save up enough money and drop it on the console. This must have been in 1997 because I remember getting Tekken 3 just after it released. Ever since then, I’ve owned every console that Sony has released, both handheld and traditional.
Having a long history with gaming and the PlayStation brand does color the way I see this game. It was a perfect way for me to reminisce on the twenty plus years of history I have with Sony. The game itself is a small platformer that is very easy to pick up and play. It’s a great introduction for anyone interested in getting into video games and is ready to play a 3D platformer. Enemy encounters are basic, for the most part, and getting hit causes you to respawn while losing the coins you collected since the last checkpoint. It’s all very low impact and adds to the charm. The game shines with the way it weaves in the history of PlayStation into every aspect of the games levels. The background music might be the startup sound of the PS3 or even a techno song about the GPU. Bots are scattered all over the place, each group representing a different game from PlayStation history, and it’s great fun trying to figure out what each one represents.
The levels are split up into four worlds, each with four stages in them, two of which will utilize alternate modes of transportation. While the worlds are all lovingly created, the real star of the game is the controller itself, this is a tech demo at the core after all. You immediately start the game going through a short demo that gives you a sense of what the controller can do, and it is impressive. It’s something I’ve never felt in a controller to this point. The triggers give tension depending on the action being performed in game, they provide a sense of connection to the game world that hasn’t existed outside of certain steering wheels (perhaps to a lesser degree than on display here). What helps this connection between controller and game is the sound that comes out of the controller (please don’t just mute the controller speaker). Having the sound come out of the controller along with the haptics sort of grounds everything together.
The little rumble you get as Astro walks across a metal grate vibrates your controller in a sharp and short rumble, the sound of his legs hitting the metal echoes out of the controllers speaker and draws you in more. If you’re playing this game, you want to be drawn into it as much as possible, this is a short experience where the point of the game is to experience it fully. This isn’t a large open world game where you just toss a podcast on since you’re done caring, it’s a nugget of goodness that is to be savored.
I was able to get the platinum in the game over the course of two days, but all you really need is a few hours and it’s yours, then go for the added bonus trophies that are included outside of the platinum since those were fun as well.
Surprisingly, the game does not implement ray tracing for reflections or shadows. It does have really fast loading times though, which seem to be more impressive in the long run. It was a breeze to hunt down the last few remaining trophies, you can just load into any stage you unlocked and be there in two seconds. I guess instead of implementing a quick resume feature like the new XBox Series are doing, they opted to have jump in quick loading. I really wish all games start optimizing for this feature, it respects your time and allows you to just get in and get done what you want to do. Imagine this feature on an Assassin’s Creed game or something, it’d be great.
I would really love to see Sony expand this game out into a full-on platformer sequel. Make this IP the Mario of Sony, it’s about time they had a mascot again. The game is a blast, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome and is just an easy entry point into enjoying this new console you just spend 500$ dollars on. If you’re lucky enough to already have the console, you owe it to yourself to give it a try, you have nothing to lose.
Final Score – 8.5
**Slight spoiler in the image below**