Astro's Playroom Review

Richard Walker

Perhaps without even realising it, one can become jaded or cynical about video games. Astro's Playroom is the antidote to that cynicism. An unfettered celebration of what might have made you fall in love with games in the first place, it's a nice, compact platforming romp in which you control the eponymous Astro, an adorable little robot you join on a journey through PlayStation history. The best part? It comes pre-installed with your PS5, and is possibly one of the most inventive and relentlessly enjoyable games I've played in some time.

Astro on ice - surprisingly graceful.

Divided into four worlds, each themed around a key component of the PlayStation 5, Astro's Playroom takes you from the snowy climes of Cooling Springs (inspired by the console's huge internal fan) to the neon-tinged sci-fi environments of the SSD Speedway (based on the PS5's super-quick hard drive). The GPU Jungle, meanwhile, is all stony cliff faces and gently waving fronds of grass that fittingly looks like astroturf, while Memory Meadows features cloudy platforms and pinball machines navigated in the style of Super Monkey Ball, only using the DualSense controller's nifty touchpad. Then there are eight 'Network Speed Run' stages to tackle as a bonus.

Everything has a tactility to it I've not seen since Media Molecule's Tearaway, and here, it seems that developer Asobi Studio (part of SIE Japan) has lavished an incredible amount of time and effort on ensuring that not only does Astro's Playroom look beautiful, but it feels like nothing else you've played before – quite literally. The masterstroke here is that the game serves as a showcase for the DualSense's haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and other smart features (although it's much more than that). If it's the first thing you play on PS5 (and we recommend that it is), you'll immediately get the dual sense that the controller might just be as revolutionary as Sony said it would be, and that it really does enhance the level of immersion.


On a basic level, walking across different surfaces provokes the DualSense into rippling accordingly, whether you're wading through mud, leaving little footprints in the snow, or scampering across metal with a pleasing plink plink as Astro's little feet make contact. Tugging on exposed flex embedded in walls or in the ground engenders a pleasing sense of resistance, before it pops out of its housing; you can blow into the controller's mic to spin pinwheels; firing a bow and arrow, the controller trembles with tension as you pull the trigger before releasing the arrow - if there was ever any doubt regarding the DualSense's capacity to be a game changer, then Astro's puts paid to that.

As you explore each of Playroom's levels, something new is frequently introduced, so platforming gives way to bouncing around in a spring-loaded Frog Suit, directing it using the DualSense motion sensors; rolling around in a ball with swipes of the touchpad; donning a Monkey Suit and scaling walls by swinging and gripping handholds; or jetting around in a rocket-fuelled pod (always using the touchpad to zip Astro up into each). Within the game's PlayStation Labo area, you can also run around absorbing the myriad nostalgia-inducing easter eggs you've collected, like a museum that pays loving tribute to the different eras of PlayStation. Within each of the sixteen levels, meanwhile, Astro's Playroom offers a seemingly endless selection of cameos from PlayStation icons.

I am a fan of this fan.

Dante from Devil May Cry, Jill Valentine with one of those iconic Spencer mansion mahogany doors, Kratos and Atreus from God of War, Crash Bandicoot with his wumpa fruit, Ratchet & Clank, Lara Croft of Tomb Raider fame, Nathan Drake, ICO, MediEvil, the racing craft from WipEout orbiting a hunk of rock out in space – the constant barrage of Astrobots decked out as defining PlayStation characters is at once dizzying and delightful. It's impossible to play Astro's Playroom without a big smile on your face the entire time, even if that time is fairly short. That said, it seems churlish to malign a lack of play time in a game brimming with such innovation and genuine, unadulterated joy.

Astro's Playroom, as a free pack-in game for PlayStation 5, could have quite easily been a lightweight and throwaway thing – a means to demonstrate the DualSense controller and little else. That it succeeds as a remarkably accomplished 3D platformer in its own right, and one that never fails to entertain and delight in equal measure, is proof positive that Asobi Studio has crafted something very special indeed. We defy you not to grin as Astro runs, double jumps with little lasers shooting from his feet, and pirouettes through a level, his little cape fluttering behind him, as the DualSense pulses and shudders in your hands. A glorious platformer that makes you feel, in more ways than one, there are few games as assured and wondrous as Astro's Playroom.

Astro's Playroom

If you're planning on getting a PlayStation 5 or already have one, Astro's Playroom should be your first port of call. It not only serves as the best way to discover the immersive potential of the new DualSense controller, but it's also a ludicrously enjoyable platforming adventure brimming with PlayStation nostalgia. And it's free. IT'S FREE!

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Oozing with charm, the looping tunes will burrow their way into your brain, leaving you humming 'SSD' or 'GPU' over and over. Sound emanates from both your TV speakers and the controller, lending a sense of immersion. It's all very lovely.


As the first game I've played on my new PS5, Astro's Playroom looks fantastic. Chunky and tactile, it almost feels like you could reach into the screen and touch it. As a pre-installed game, credit has to go to Asobi for crafting such a lush game.


Astro's Playroom is unabashedly brilliant. Not only is it an enormously pleasant surprise as a free pack-in game for PS5, but it's also an exuberant celebration of all things PlayStation, packed with innovative uses of the DualSense controller.


Much more than a DualSense tech demo, Astro's Playroom stands alone as a sensational platforming adventure. It might be a bit on the short side, but collecting every puzzle piece, PlayStation artefact, and besting all the Speed Run levels will keep you coming back.


A superb trophy list with nearly as much invention as the game itself. There's a good selection here, spanning challenging speed run targets, collecting everything, and carrying out some unique tasks within the CPU Plaza hub, and the PlayStation Labo area. Almost perfect.

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