Astro’s Playroom and the PS5 DualSense Review – Match Made in Gamer’s Heaven

The much anticipated launch of Sony’s flagship gaming console, the PlayStation 5, is finally upon us and with it comes Astro’s Playroom, a free game from developer SIE Japan Studio’s ASOBI Team division that is designed to highlight Sony’s brand new controller, the DualSense. How does it fare?

Read on to find out

The Astrobots made their first appearance with the launch of the PlayStation 4 seven years ago in The Playroom. This was also a free to play game that shipped with the console and showcased the new camera and the DualShock 4 controller, both of which were brand new tech at the time. The Astrobots then got their own VR game, Astro Bot Rescue Mission, which did an incredible job of showcasing Sony’s PSVR headset. These little guys seem to always be on the cutting edge of Sony’s latest technology so it’s no surprise to find them hiding out in the new DualSense controller.

PlayStation Controller History

Every new generation of PlayStation consoles has brought with it a new controller, and the PlayStation 5 continues this feature. The original PlayStation controller launched with the original PlayStation console and brought with it some nifty shoulder buttons. The PS2 launch brought us dual analog sticks and eventually good vibrations in the DualShock and Dualshock 2, and the PS3 brought us the wireless Sixaxis Dualshock 3 that not only vibrated but also had built in motion control. The PlayStation 4 launch brought with it all of the great features of the previous controllers, but also a fancy new touchpad and a built in speaker to enhance gameplay.

The release of the PlayStation 5 brings us PlayStation’s latest controller, the DualSense. At first glance, the rounded corners and sleeker design instantly sets this controller apart from the previous DualShock 4, and a side-by-side comparison shows the DualSense to be sightly bigger and we found it to be a little heavier, but it still fits well in our hands. The charging port is a USB-C so PS4 controller cables wont work with this. The controller brings with it a built-in speaker as before but now also includes a built-in-microphone and mute button. You can still plug your favorite headphones or headset into the back of the controller if you wish, but the built-in-mic works well enough for a simple chat. The buttons use a clear plastic element that seems like a shout out to Sony’s handheld devices, the PSP and the PS Vita, and we must say the buttons look pretty damn cool.

DualSense Features Highlighted in Astro’s Playroom

Once you get your hands on your PlayStation 5 console, the first thing you’ll want to do after hooking it up is start playing Astro’s Playroom. Some may call this a glorified tech demo, but for us, it’s really a fun game that just so happens to highlight the new technology of the Dualsense controller. One of the new features highlighted are the adaptive triggers or shoulder buttons, that can have altering tension or trigger pull. This is highlighted in-game by using things like rockets and a spring powered frog suit among other things. The triggers add a new depth to the controller that we didn’t see coming and we’ve already seen how it can work with other games like Godfall and can’t wait to see more developers use this feature. Motion control seems to work better with the DualSense and the haptic feedback and targeted vibration adds to the depth of the game.

 

Astro’s Playroom is So Much More than a Tech Demo

If you’ve never messed around in an Astrobot game, you are missing out and you’ll definitely want to jump into Astro’s Playroom. The game is separated into four main regions which are accessible from the CPU Plaza. Each area is played platform style with jumping, flying, climbing, and bouncing, all utilizing different aspects of the DualSense controller. Astrobot jumps into a monkey suit in one level and we find that the triggers, when held too tight on some items, will crush them and you’ll have to ease up on the pressure to continue your climb up. Another level has you in a ball suit that uses the touch pad to propel it and control it. There are sixteen unique areas within these four worlds, and one area that is a throwback to 1994 and the original tech demo dinosaur.

Collectibles and In-game Help

Lying around, and sometimes hidden, throughout all of these areas are puzzle pieces and artifacts of PlayStation days gone by. Some are pretty easy to find and some you’ll get for finishing a level, but all of them are needed if you want that shiny Platinum trophy at the end of your adventure. PlayStation has another new feature that can be utilized in your search for these objects and that’s an in-game help system that uses video to show you where to look and/or how to find the next piece in a level. No need to jump online on your PC for a guide, as the game has it right there at your fingertips by just pressing the PS button and looking down at the pop-up menu. This little feature is truly a game changer when it comes to trophy hunting.

 

The PlayStation 5 is a powerful machine and who better to show off some of its bells and whistles than a Sony first party studio. SIE Japan Studio’s ASOBI Team division has done an incredible job showcasing many different aspects of the new DualSense controller and created a must-play game for every new PlayStation 5 owner.

10


Astrobot’s Playroom is free for all PS5 owners. For more information on scoring, please read: What our review scores really mean.