Astro Bot made his first VR appearance in The Playroom VR, a free tech demo which was released alongside the PSVR. Within this tech demo was a platforming mini-game featuring Astro Bot. It’s here where us true believers saw the potential for VR to turn the non-believers into our friends.
Being that Astro Bot Rescue Mission is a PSVR game, you will need a PSVR headset to play. There is no flat version of this game, just VR. And you’ll need a DualShock 4 in tow, too, and it’s best to make sure you’re sitting on a full charge, lest you get disrupted by the need to plug in. It’s not an ideal way to play, either, as you’ll be using the DualShock 4 quite physically at times, so it’s best not to be tethered to your expensive console…
Astro Bot starts off with the titular hero’s friends having their starship destroyed, sending all the little bots scattered through space. Luckily, they all landed on planets, so that means they can be rescued. See where the game got it’s title?
You team up Astro Bot and embark on a platforming adventure to rescue all your little buddies. It’s a bit of a slow start with the intro, but once you’re down on your first planet with your controller in hand and Astro Bot ready to do you bidding, it’s amazing. Literally, from start to finish, amazing. There was word going around before the game’s release that this game would be the Mario64 of PSVR. That wasn’t a stupid thing to say.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission is a platformer first and foremost, though there are some very light puzzles to solve. You’ll be a part of the action from the word go, as you yourself have a physical presence in the game. While Astro Bot runs, jumps, and hovers with his laser boots, you’ll move forward along with him and use your head to bash through barriers, your controller to pull down obstacles, and much more. My favourite was the water shooter that comes out of your in-game controller. It just looked so damn good and felt really good, too.
Having a presence in the game yourself is something of a game changer. The game invites you to peer into Astro Bot’s colourful and, at times, dangerous worlds, and it’s mighty enjoyable being able to get face-to-face with the chubby robot, but there’s more to it than that. At times, you’re really do need to get your neck muscles in action, especially if you want to rescue each and every one of Astro Bot’s lost buddies. You’ll have to crane your neck to look up high. You’ll have to turn in your seat to spot secrets lurking behind you. You’ll have to lean forward and peer around into the nooks and crannies. It’s all very engaging and elevates Astro Bot Rescue Mission to another level.
Something I asked myself was ‘would this game still be great if it wasn’t in VR?’. The answer is no. Being a PSVR game is what makes Astro Bot Rescue Mission stand out from all the other whimsical platformers. Watching Astro Bot smash a bad guy in the mouth is so much more satisfying when you can lean in and watch the battle up close. The same goes for general gameplay and collecting; being able to put yourself as close or as far away from the action as you please opens up the game far more than the moving camera in Mario64 ever could have done.
I’m not saying this is the start of a new era for VR gaming, but it’s a sign at least that great things can be done on a budget and still deliver what gamers want: Fun!
Your standard platforming tropes are all here. You’ve got your collectible coins, missing folk who need to be found, a loveable hero, and plenty of bad guys spread out across a wide variety of levels on several different worlds, not to mention the boss battles. Thankfully they’re not too difficult and are your standard platforming affair; find the weak spot, dodge the incoming attacks, hit boss, repeat. It’s all so very standard, but at the same time it’s all so very new. Is this VR’s Mario64 moment? No. It’s even better.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission PSVR Review
Overall - 9.0/10
Astro Bot Rescue Mission is a fantastic game from start to finish. There’s really not a lot to complain about, a rarity for me. The music is great, the gameplay is top-notch, and the graphics are some of the best I’ve seen to-date on PSVR. It’s a damn charming game and one of the few I’ll replay to get the coveted Platinum trophy.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.