Astro's Playroom and DualSense PS5: Tested the first level!

Astro's Playroom and DualSense PS5: Tested the first level!
Trying Astro's Playroom arouses a certain emotion: not only is this the first PS5 game to get your hands on, but it also represents the first approach with DualSense. It is no coincidence that the new Sony controller is the fulcrum of the experience created by Japan Studio's Asobi Team: the novelty of the feedback from the heir of the DualShock is such and so evident that one cannot help but be amazed already. in the tutorial.

But limiting Astro's Playroom to just a showcase for adaptive triggers and haptic feedback would be a deadly sin. Behind what appears as a technical demo, in fact, there is one of the most surprising and original studios of the past generation, which was able to create one of the essential experiences of PlayStation VR and virtual reality in general: Astro Bot Rescue Mission. This is why we have approached this work with great attention, convinced that it can hide much of what one can imagine.

I have an AstroBot inside PS5!

Nobody or hardly remembers The Playroom: the demo released in 2013 at the launch of PlayStation 4 was nothing more than a nice way to present the Dualshock 4; it introduced nothing really new or memorable, other than a series of funny little robots that seemed to live inside the controller. For this it was an incredible surprise to realize that one of those robots had become the protagonist of a cult title, a must-have of the exclusive PlayStation VR library that responds to the title of the aforementioned Astro Bot Rescue Mission.

Astro's Playroom was born from these experiences, and combines the idea of ​​a showcase of The Playroom controller with the creative vein of Asobi Team. It goes without saying that a similar combination makes it difficult to calibrate expectations, especially when Sony itself presents the game as a complete experience, but designed to show the potential of DualSense. A perfect definition for causing migraines to any critic! We will therefore leave the task of framing the game within the right boundaries to those who will take care of the review and here we will limit ourselves to describing the experience of the first level: Cooling Springs. The premise that moves the events is not explicit, but easily understood: the Sony robots have landed on the new console and are preparing to explore its components. And as the name of the stage implies, it starts with one of the most talked about elements of the machine: the cooling system. The setting can therefore only be themed: fans almost everywhere, blocks of ice here and there and a verticality that is nothing more than the counterpart in the level design field of the movement of the air flows inside the machine. It certainly cannot be said that this is not an original premise.

Gameplay and Easter Egg

The gameplay behind this first world is not anything particularly revolutionary. You are greeted by a pond invaded by robo-tourists, where you get to know the first enemies and three different types of collectibles: classic gold coins, puzzle pieces and artifacts, or 3D reproductions of consoles, game supports and accessories that have made PlayStation history. This is certainly not the title where to test the technical power of PS5: however the work of Asobi Team runs smoothly at 4K and 60 frames per second, boasts very fast loading thanks to the SSD and shows a lighting system and reflections that are always very convincing. . The villains are quite varied, and range from simple unarmed kamikaze to mini-robots with spikes, to bullets with electric powers that hit in the area. In between, a myriad of "brothers" of our protagonist, engaged in the most absurd and unpredictable activities: there are those who simply sunbathe and those who surf, those who paint and those who are engaged in crazy parties, complete with imitation of the exploits of William Tell and his famous apple test. But that's not all, because the scenarios and rich backdrops of the level are full of easter eggs that recall the adventures experienced on PlayStation 4: in one area there is a reference to the Ocean Descent minigame of PlayStation VR Worlds, while in the middle of the pond there are those who shoot one of the most iconic scenes of PlayStation 4. In fact, we see a camerabot struggling with the resumption of the crossing of Kratobot and Atreobot, robotic counterparts of the most famous heroes of God of War, Kratos and Atreos precisely. For those who have lived the last generation as a protagonist it is a real pleasure to find these small details, perhaps even more than crossing the level in full. And for the record, the names assigned to the individual robots are the least official there is on this earth: however we do not believe there is a more effective way to characterize them.

As already mentioned, the mechanics that move this nice platformers are not particularly innovative: you jump and float in the air, you use a button to attack with more or less impetus, and in some sections you use the gyroscope to direct the movement. From time to time we use the microphone to blow on a pinwheel, or the touchpad to close a hinge, but nothing more. Beyond the quotationist gimmicks, the game system does nothing in particular to win over the player. The beauty, however, is that it doesn't need it! In fact, DualSense offers everything you need to surprise and amaze those who approach its technology for the first time. On the one hand, in fact, the haptic feedback returns a vibration even more precise and powerful than that of the HD Rumble of the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con; on the other, the sections in the role of a spring make you experience for the first time the resistance of adaptive triggers, which represent something truly never experienced before in a video game.

The DualSense revolution

So is DualSense really Sony's next-gen? It's too early to say: what is certain is that the new PS5 controller is the element that stands out the most during the first few minutes in the company of Astro's Playroom. The precision of the performance in the alternation of the steps with the vibration that passes from left to right in correspondence with the displacement of the robot's center of gravity, the different feeling on the more or less soft surfaces of the scenarios and the reproduction of the impediment of the wind to displacements are only part of what allows you to experience the pad. At the same time, the variable resistance of the triggers is amazing: moving in the shoes of a robomolla through the gyroscope is certainly not a pleasure walk, in fact most of the time it is frustrating; However, it cannot be hidden that activating the jump through the triggers is a real lust. You end up spending more time than necessary to move left and right for the sole pleasure of testing the stroke and the hardness of the trigger, with a stupid smile on your face at every mistake or death that extends this a few seconds longer. cathartic experience. It is clear that such a situation cannot last long, and that the novelty effect will gradually diminish. However, it is difficult not to notice the potential of similar technology in the most disparate genres, starting with shooters and driving games. It's hard to say now whether or not it will be an element capable of shifting the equilibrium of the console war, but we wouldn't be surprised to find ourselves missing it once we get used to it.

The first level of Astro's Playroom it is not a prelude to a revolutionary platformer: in this introductory stage Asobi Team limited itself to the classic homework, without trying in any way to introduce innovative elements. The self-referential and cloyingly pleasant quotation is the master, and the mechanics are simple and scholastic, in some places even irritating. We do not know if the other worlds will dare more, letting the crystalline talent of one of the teams that are most skilled in the use of virtual reality emerge. What is certain is that the DualSense alone is able to complete all this, transforming a scenario rich in outline elements but little substances in an unprecedented gaming experience. And it is certainly not a small thing.


The robots are adorable in their activities Well-kept backdrops The DualSense triggers are a "guilty pleasure" DOUBTS There is nothing in Cooling Springs really new Motion sensors at all costs The trigger and vibration wow effect how long will it last?
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