Astro Bot Rescue Mission is the second VR game on PS4 that makes me think the future of platforming games may be in VR. The first was Moss.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission takes some ideas from Moss and dials them up to 11. In Astro Bot Rescue Mission, like in Moss, players step into the shoes of an unseen, giant observer. It’s through their (your) eyes that the game happens.
You’re not being forced to traverse 3D space while seated. Instead, you control the avatar of the hero, Astro in this case, and move around the world to attain better views and angles on the action. It’s an amazing way to play a platformer and I hope many more games in the genre embrace VR in the future.
For now though, Astro Bot Rescue Mission is the undisputed king.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission Review
The premise of the game is that captain Astro and his ship have been ambushed and destroyed, leaving his crew scattered across the galaxy. Being the good captain he is, Astro sets out to save his friends and stop the monster who wrecked his ship.
Each of the levels is a fairly linear affair, however, there are plenty of branching paths and hidden areas to find and explore. Additionally, each level includes a number of coins and crew members to find and rescue as well as an invisible chameleon.
Finding the chameleon unlocks special challenge levels which throw extra tough versions of the levels at you.
Simply exploring each of the levels is the best part about Astro Bot though. As you control Astro and move him forward, you’re automatically moved along with him. At first, I felt a bit of motion sickness, but it didn’t last long. Thankfully, like in Moss, you’re stationary for the most part and control your viewpoint by moving.
There’s no real brain-body disconnect to be found.
Depth of Space
Astro controls perfectly and moving him through the world is a breeze. You’re able to jump and use lasers to hover and headbutt some enemies to defeat them. When you’re controlling a character in true 3D space, you need pinpoint precision and accuracy. That’s what you get when controlling Astro.
Unfortunately, when you use your gadgets, the controls can go a bit wonky.
As you play, you’ll unlock gadgets which are add-ons to the in-game DualShock 4. These include a grappling hook and a water gun.
To use these gadgets you need to move and aim the DualShock 4 then press a button. Sometimes the controller tracking was totally out of whack, making it impossible to aim properly. You are able to reset the controller position at any time, which is helpful. But it can get a little annoying.
Using your gadgets and exploring with Astro is the only way to make it through these levels and to find your crew. These little guys here are scattered through the levels with some being easy to spot and others are really well hidden. To find them all, you’ll need to keep an ear out for their cries to locate where they are.
Once you can hear the little guys, you’ll need to look all around the level by physically moving to find exactly where they are. Once you do, it’s time to send in Captain Astro. The interactivity in Astro Bot Rescue Mission is peerless. Playing this game makes you feel as though you really are in an entirely different digital world.
It’s amazing how well Japan Studio has crafted these levels to give you a sense of place, scale and movement. This is largely due to the excellent audio and visual work that’s gone into creating Astro Bot.
The visuals are crisp, bright and colourful while the audio is absolutely spot-on. While wearing headphones, you can hear every noise coming from the direction it should. Even without proper surround headphones, the audio really places you in Astro’s virtual world.
At the end of every world, you’ll be facing off against a gigantic boss. The scale here can’t be overstated. These bad guys are as big as you appear in the game, so they make Astro seem tiny in comparison. While they’re not very difficult, they might take you a few tries as you work out the patterns of attack.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission is one of the best platformers I’ve played this year and is easily the best PSVR game you can get today. Do yourself a favour and pick it up.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission was reviewed on PS4 Pro and PSVR using a digital code provided by Sony.
Excellent use of VR - 9/10
An adorable, fun and highly playable platformer - 8.5/10
Astro is so damn cute - 7.5/10
Gadgets, Bosses and Collectibles - 8.6/10