The star of PS5’s obscenely crisp, 4K resolution launch comes from an unlikely source. It arguably isn’t the snowy streets of Spider-Man: Miles Morales or even the punishing peaks of the gorgeous Demon’s Souls remake. Instead, for the second time in a row, it’s Sony’s unsuspecting new mascot, Astro Bot, that’s really waving the flag for the new hardware.
Indeed, Astro’s Playroom is a real gem of a platformer; breezy to the touch and crammed with obscure and often hilarious references to PlayStation history all fuelled by the amazing haptics of the new DualSense controller. Like many of you, it was the first title I played on my PS5 and, thanks to its moreish action and novel mechanics, the first one I finished too. And, also like many of you, I wish the journey hadn’t come to an end quite so soon.
But it doesn’t have to be.
It seems very likely that to most people buying a PS5, even the hardcore types to get a console in its launch window, this will be the first time they’ve met Astro. But there is plenty more of developer Sony Japan’s genius hidden away in the character’s first full title, the PSVR-exclusive Astro Bot Rescue Mission.
In fact, Rescue Mission is so good — every bit the equal of Astro’s Playroom — that I’d say it’s worth seeking out a PSVR headset to play it on PS5, even if the tech’s age has never been more apparent. Simply put, Rescue Mission is the full Astro Bot game so many have been clamoring for since wrapping up Playroom over the past few weeks.
That ever-present sense of invention that game gives you? The kind usually reserved for Mario games? It’s alive and well in Rescue Mission – which introduces brilliant new concepts that harness both the power and mechanics of VR in different ways every few levels or so. I often fondly recall throwing out ninja stars through my DualShock 4 controller to make platforms Astro could leap across, or physically ducking out of the way of obstacles. There’s a wonderful duality to the game’s design; one for Astro itself and then another layer on top that considers you, the player, from a VR perspective, creating plenty of truly unique moments.
Make no mistake, though, this is no mere tech demo. In fact, Astro itself was born from a free PSVR pack-in that served as the foundation for this 26-mission adventure that will take you a good six or so hours to run through and even longer should you join the addictive hunt for collectibles.
PSVR has enjoyed a surprisingly rich life compared to most other PlayStation peripherals – one dotted with genuinely excellent gems to try for yourself. Looking back on the headset’s life thus far, none shine bright that Astro’s adventures in VR land. Hopefully we’ll see Astro return to his true home as part of Sony’s VR future but, for now, do yourself a favor and give Rescue Mission a shot.