There is something unique about Nintendo in the game: it has an excellent balance of charm, nostalgia, and carefully tuned difficulty that feels just right. The haptic feedback on the DualSense controller also elevates the experience, adding a unique feel to the platform. Combined, these elements make it an unexpected success for the next generation.
Astro’s Playroom lets you explore digital worlds inspired by PS5 hardware, such as the “GPU Jungle” and “SSD Speedway”. Each region contains a console-specific gimmick, such as using the gyroscope features to control a spacecraft or the adaptive stimuli to sense the tension in pulling the arc string. Each level has enemies to kill or obstacles to climb, but the most fun comes only from the action.
With every step and leap, the DualSense controller responds. You can feel a gust of strong winds in the palm of your hands. The laser beams are fired from your feet, allowing you to pass through, and it produces a low hum from the console headphones along with a slight vibration. Surfaces, like grass and mud, produce a distinct feel through console effects: A muddy hill, for example, blows me how Feeling Like a slippery slope. These moments are a technical marvel, demonstrating the capabilities of the DualSense controller that can change the way we interact with video game environments.
Astro’s Playroom raises the bar for DualSense by putting it into a really fun game. Loved every moment. Each area feels like a theme park attraction: In one, it turns into a huge ball that rolls down a series of slides, which you can control with the touchpad. Elsewhere, your foot becomes spring, and you can feel the tension of the spring through adaptive stimuli as you find the right level of pressure to clear the gap.
There is also an incredible attention to detail, which makes me stop in my tracks multiple times just to admire the Easter egg. Astro’s Playroom is a love letter to PlayStation, as you find collectibles based on past consoles and accessories made by the mega publisher. The experience is filled with callbacks for specific games as well, from the latest hits like “Ghost of Tsushima” to classics like “Final Fantasy VII”. I loved the feeling of discovery, and the “a-ha” moments these gold coins provide.
Despite being defeated in the game, I find myself returning to “Astro’s Playroom” for its pure joy. With so many secrets hidden in their deepest corners, there are still collectibles and moments lost for me to discover them. But most of all, it’s an experience that feels particularly “new” in terms of how it works and feels. There is no other platform game like it.
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