Astro’s Playroom PS5 Review: Doing The Robot

Should you get Astro's Playroom for PS5? You have no choice - it's pre-loaded and it's an instant classic!

This Astro’s Playroom review is admittedly filler until PS5 gets a bigger catalogue. Sure there are big titles out there now such as AC: ValhallaSpider-Dude and Darker Souls, but I’m not prepared to buy all of these in one go right before Chrimbo. Besides, as the last few posts and tweets have stated, I’m waiting for Cyberpunk 2077 to finish downloading.

When we got the PS4 for the first time, we all had a little dabble with The Playroom, with all those little bots hidden in your controller, or if you opted for the camera, filling the floor with inflatables having a mad time. But it was a gimmick, come on.

Astro’s Playroom felt like that to me initially. Sure, it looks nice, but there wasn’t a significant difference with the presentation compared to PS4, a little like Bugsnax too. It just felt like a showcase for the DualSense as 1-2 Switch was for HD Rumble.

Astro’s Playroom PS5 Review

But… if third party developers somehow implement the tricks you can pull off in this game, this controller will be a beast. Yes, jumping in a monkey suit and swinging the controller to climb or bouncing as a frog was fun, but other than the kids playing it, I wasn’t fussed.

Astro's Playroom - Dancing with the stars
Dancing with the stars. Source: PR

Then the child in me noticed my daughter was accumulating some trophies – she was better than me! So, while she was at school, I tinkered with Astro’s Playroom to try and unlock everything in an hour – it’s a demo after all, right? No, this is a bona fide 3D world that begs to be explored and played for hours – and it’s free!

By the time I sat down to enjoy, I had found myself pretty much lost in nostalgia. In the game, in case you’re unaware, you hunt for memorabilia from the PlayStation’s legacy ranging from the original PlayStation up to the next generation – the hub takes place in the PS5 itself – your actual console, live, right now. FACT.

Progressing through each of the worlds in Astro’s Playroom will reward you with jigsaw parts depicting some contemporary graffiti art, hidden components like the mic from the PSP (did anyone else have Talkman?) as well as the ultimate goal, a PlayStation rendered in 3D – with some moving parts.

Big Kid

Quite frankly, Astro’s Playroom, from Team Asobi, is a fantastic representation of the PlayStation over the years. From first seeing Destruction Derby up until Gran Turismo 7, this console has gone from strength to strength. I’m not remotely anti-Xbox or Microsoft at all, but there are more memories with the Sony device.

This game is the equivalent for what Super Mario 64 was for the Nintendo 64 on launch. Each playthrough or moment you stray from the paths laid out in front, you notice something new, and even if it is the same thing again and again, you never tire of it.

There little bots dressed as Tekken characters, Kratos, Crash – you name it. In one section Astrobot whipped out an umbrella due to the rain, and I saw a station up ahead that resembled the same one from Death Stranding. But even as the inner child in me shouts at the screen and anyone listening that X is so and so from whatever, the gameplay is there too.

A Hat For Many Trades

Astro will casually walk then increase in speed if uninterrupted, his little feet patting the ground and gently providing feedback through the controls. Another posse of robots minding their own business, or re-enacting a scene from a beloved title will be punched by me again, because, well, I can.

Astro's Playroom - Stranded
Stranded. Source: PR

It’s all so cute, but satisfying too. Astro’s Playroom is a showcase for what the DualSense can do. Only recently when playing Worms Rumble, I wowed at the differences in feedback in the triggers for a shotgun compared to an assault rifle.

Here you can title, swing, shake – even blow into the controller to reach new parts. It did feel gimmicky at first, but this is such a tight platformer it’s a must that everyone with a PS5 has it, even better that it’s included with the machine.

I was sceptical of the coverage of Astro’s Playroom at first, thinking the only reason it’s getting attention is it’s free, and Astrobot is loved by many circles. Watching a few playthroughs such as PlayStation Access, I felt somewhat cynical that it was just buzz from the official platform to say how wonderful it all is. 

A Convert

But having played it almost every day, or at least watch my kids play it since launch, I get it. Astro’s Playroom is a masterclass for what is to come, pending that other developers can follow suit without copying all the elements but working it into a more interactive experience.

Though everyone in the house has at least had a go of Astro’s Playroom and enjoyed it, including the dog, Astro’s Playroom is a trifle challenging in places. The nature of the game, which feels a little sandbox-like in smaller hands, means players of all ages can do what they like – punch robots, jump on random NPCs, play a gacha gacha machine.

Astro's Playroom - Push Pull Factor
The push/pull factor. Source: PR

But if you’re serious like I became, getting the platinum isn’t a cakewalk (at the time of writing, I don’t have it yet). There are no health bars, so it’s instadeath but with very generous checkpoints. Watching my eldest defeat a boss with ease made me think it was a doddle, but I died on my first attempt.

It’s no way as challenging as Crash Bandicoot, but maybe that’s just me – I found all Crash games hard. Still, it will test your abilities in some areas if you’re looking to get 100%. The section where you control Astro as a ball a la Marble Madness using the touchpad was a pig. A slight gust of wind and off the edge you go. But watching Astro wave at me again made me realise I had a responsibility to get him to his goal and there was no time for rage.

Astro’s Playroom is an essential title for the PS5 and one of the best launch titles for a console that showcases the potential of the system and its controller. If this is what it can do now, how will it be in its peak? Free is a keyword here, but not the main one. Astro’s Playroom is essential, plain and simple.