Review

Astro's Playroom PS5 review: pre-loaded platformer provides perfect introduction to new console features

4/5

Thanks to the incredible new Dualsense controller gaming has never felt so good

Astro's Playroom is pre-loaded onto all PS5 consoles so there's no excuse not to dive in
Astro's Playroom is pre-loaded onto all PS5 consoles so there's no excuse not to dive in

Pre-loaded onto every PlayStation 5 console, Astro’s Playroom is a gentle 3D platformer designed primarily as an introduction to Sony’s new DualSense controller. Japanese developers ASOBI Team have form for transmuting glorified tech demos into gaming gold, however, and this joyful outing is every bit the alchemical equal of their VR hit Astro Bot Rescue Mission.

As with previous Astro Bot outings, the central conceit here is that the little critters exist inside your hardware, and each of the game’s punningly titled four worlds features landscapes constructed from the constituent parts of consoles, controllers and accessories from PlayStations present and past. 

Indeed, it quickly transpires the whole game is actually an interactive love letter to the brand’s 25-year history, and so stuffed with easter eggs that you’ll need several lockdowns to discover them all. Seemingly every conceivable piece of PlayStation hardware exists in collectible form, and interacting with them in the game’s hub area is a Proustian delight. 

Even better are the super charming vignettes depicting scenes from classic games acted out by Astro Bots in fancy dress scattered throughout the game’s levels. It’s a wonderfully self indulgent cocktail of celebration and fan service more reminiscent of Nintendo than Sony - and all the more delightful for it.  

The DualSense's haptic feedback is so good you can feel individual footsteps and raindrops via the controller

That sense of joyous invention permeates the gameplay too, as typified by the alternate stages in which your Astro Bot is transformed in order to demonstrate one of the DualSense’s new input mechanics. These range from a spring-footed frog and mechanical ape, who move via motion controls, to a ball guided by rubbing the touchpad. Best of all is a lunar landing module whose twin thrusters are operated via delicate dabs on the controller’s ultra-sensitive adaptive triggers. 

Astro’s Playroom an utterly compelling advert for both the technological advances of the DualSense controller and also the potential of next gen immersive gaming - and putting it in the hands of every PlayStation 5 owner is a seriously smart move on Sony’s part. In fact, the only issue here is that there isn't enough of it. All but the most obsessive collectible hoarders will see everything the game has to offer in an afternoon or so - but the chances are you’ll love every second of it.

Now read our full hands-on review of the PlayStation 5 console and also our thoughts on launch title Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales