Review: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission (PSVR)

Review: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission (PSVR)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
  • PS VR Aim Controller None
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Title: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (8.41 GB)
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Japan Studio
Original MSRP: $39.99 (US), £34.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 594 of the podcast at 55:40.
Episode 594 - An Astro Bot From Comic Con

Gameplay:
ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission is more than just a reskinned Mario clone, though the influences are heavily felt. It’s more of a love letter to the child-like wonder that’s omnipresent in so many of Nintendo’s first party games.

PlayStation has had its share of family friendly titles and these bots are undeniably adorable. Everything about the game screams family play.

In case you weren’t aware though, these bots aren’t even a brand new creation.

The “AR Bots” first appeared in The Playroom, a free download filled with experiences designed to show off the capabilities of the PlayStation 4 camera and the DualShock 4 making full use of the speaker, light bar, and touch pad.

Next up came another free download, The Playroom VR. This one launched alongside PlayStation VR and highlighted the combined capabilities of the camera, DualShock 4, and the PS VR headset through a series of minigames which included a simple platformer called Robot Rescue. .

Review: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission (PSVR) Review: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission (PSVR)

It may seem as though ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission is just the next logical step, but there’s no guarantee this game would have ever been made if not for the very vocal and positive feedback on Robot Rescue. The PlayStation Blog has a great story about it here.

Japan Studio had a ton of ideas for a fully fleshed out game but didn’t really get the go ahead until that feedback was received. Through all the iterations and choices though, the most important decision they made was how the levels would work.

ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission is a VR platformer that puts everything that came before it to shame. The subtle key to the game is that as the observer and controller of the Astro Bot, you slowly move forward into the levels as you go. It makes a big impact in the experience and allows you to feel as though you’re deeply immersed in the world itself.

As with any good platformer, new mechanics are introduced over the various levels. Even better, the developers take full advantage of the unique controls on the DualShock 4 to add some whimsy to the game.

Review: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission (PSVR) Review: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission (PSVR)

You’ll be given virtual attachments that will hook onto the touch pad of the beautifully themed in-game DualShock 4. Seriously, we need a real world version of this shiny controller because it’s gorgeous.

Your attachments include a grappling hook, throwing stars, a water cannon, and more. They will allow you to affect the environment in a number of ways and they’re (obviously) critical to completing the level. The important thing is that they add one more level to the immersion.

Your mission is to find all the lost bots across each of the levels, and there are eight per level. Some are out in the open while others are cowering, camouflaged, or completely hidden. To find them all you’ll need to look and listen very carefully.

Despite the adorable look of the game and its various enemies, this isn’t an easy platformer. Checkpoints appear near various places that may cause trouble so a restart usually isn’t so bad, just don’t expect it to be a walk in the park simply because it looks so cute.

Review: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission (PSVR) Review: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission (PSVR)

At the end of each planetoid of levels is a boss battle, each unique and engaging in a way that makes them feel special in VR. You’ll be using all the cumulative tricks you’ve learned up to that point to beat the progressively harder bosses as you go, and it’s so much fun each time you do.

Space Chameleons are also hidden on each level and finding them opens up timed challenge levels with the potential of two more bots to rescue on each. These are a really fun diversion into some quick minigames when you need a break from the platforming.

With more than 200 bots to rescue across various levels and challenges, you’ve got your work cut out for you. There’s much more to do as you get deeper into the game but I’ll let you find all that out for yourself.

Visuals:
ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission is easily the best looking game on PlayStation VR to date. Japan Studio has pulled out all the stops and refined the graphics to give you smooth, crisp scenery with no hint of the VR fuzziness that tends to permeate most PS VR games. It really is a technical marvel.

Review: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission (PSVR) Review: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission (PSVR)

Fans of Nintendo should absolutely love the look and feel of the game as it borrows liberally from the Nintendo aesthetic. Even if you’ve never played a Mario game in your life, ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission will charm your socks off and melt your cynical heart.

The absolute wonder of being inside the levels and interacting with everything that’s going on is something rarely done with this much joy and adorable fun.

Audio:
Headphones are a must if you plan on finding all the wayward bots. While you may not be able to see all of them, you’ll always hear them as you get closer to where they are. The 3D audio will help you pinpoint a direction but you’ll still need to figure out exactly where some of them are hiding.

Everything about ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission screams fun, from the sounds the bots make to the environmental audio and the music. This is just a great presentation top to bottom.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component – despite my daughter wanting to wear the headset while I play, which I wouldn’t recommend unless you want an exercise in frustration.

Review: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission (PSVR) Review: ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission (PSVR)

Conclusion:
ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission delivers on all fronts. It’s a charming, deceptively difficult platformer that raises the bar for all PS VR titles in terms of performance, presentation, and fun.

If you haven’t jumped on board with PS VR yet, the new bundle that includes the headset, camera, Moss, and ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission is an absolute steal since they’re two of the best games on the platform.

This is by far the best experience I’ve had in VR and it’s one I’ll keep going back to again and again, even after finding all the bots, it’s just that good.

Score:
9.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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