A thoughtful look at the new platformer that comes with every purchase of the new PlayStation 5 game console.
From the get go, you know Astro’s Playroom will be a different kind of an experience. A virtual version of the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller appears on the screen and with a flick up on the touchpad, the cartoon robot Astro jumps out. You enter a small, but tall room.
Here in this hub, called CPU Plaza, you find a variety of gates to the four worlds of the game. These tantalize you with bigger worlds to explore. But there are other things that draw your attention — strange switches, floating puzzle pieces, and a strange congregation of fellow robots in the level below you, viewable through the glass floor.
Playroom was developed by Asobi Team, a division of PlayStation’s Japan Studio. It is a platformer, a game where you move a character and jump platform to platform, usually facing enemies and challenges. Super Mario Bros. is a classic of this genre, as is Sonic the Hedgehog. And like heroes of the past, our protagonist has a variety of moves that are his own. Astro can jump, he can float for two seconds with jetpack-like tech, and he can punch enemy robots.
Playroom has that alluring combination that many great platforms have, a mix of challenge and exploration. As you go from world to world, you find your attention drawn to things to interact with, or paths to explore, or enemies to defeat.
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