Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Consider ‘Astro Bot’ a kiddie demo

By knl9j Jul8,2024

The perfect balance between a “playground” for everyone and the most maddening platforming

We’ve met the friendly Astro Bot twice before, and while they were excellent displays of the technical capabilities of the Playstation hardware, that was precisely their limitation: despite being brilliant games, they sometimes felt like over-the-top tech demos. True, few games have made better use of the DualSense’s capabilities than Astro’s Playsroom , and few games have laid out the possibilities of Playstation VR more clearly than Astro Bot Rescue Mission, but they lacked the substance to be fully-fledged games.

We’ve had the chance to try out the new adventure of this unofficial Playstation mascot for a couple of hours, and the truth is that our fears have largely been dispelled: ‘Astro Bot’ is a proper game. Aimed at a more familiar audience, if you will (although with some very pleasant nuances), and with a use of the possibilities of the DualSense that sometimes errs on the side of exhibitionism, but that makes perfect sense.

‘Astro Bot’ is intended as a title that does not intend to take anyone out of their comfort zone: we have all seen its approach and development dozens of times, and it is nice, in these times when everything has to have its sarcastic comment, to come across a game so honest in its purpose . With ‘Astro Bot’ you have to visit different planets, each one with its climate, environment, fauna and flora and go rescuing a series of companions that are trapped, just like Mario, Sonic or any other video game mascot who spends his life untying his friends from trees.

To make our way through, we’ll have different weapons and items suited to the challenges each planet presents us (we’ve seen a backpack that allows Astro to inflate and deflate, a rocket dog, and spring-loaded boxing gloves), as well as small puzzles that we’ll have to solve to open new paths. These puzzles, from what we’ve seen so far, are mainly about exploration, finding pieces or springs that reveal paths… but it’s clear that with Team Asobi’s deep use of the Dual Shock’s possibilities, we’ll find puzzles of other kinds, with elements of action, pattern recognition, and so on.

In general, the planets we played on (there will be 80 in total, in six galaxies whose map we could see and which will surely contain a few secret locations) offered just the right amount of very basic platform action and exploration , essential to locate all the kidnapped companions, seven per planet. Companions who, by the way, are dressed up as Playstation icons, in nice cosplays that recall major and minor myths of the Sony constellation. We won’t reveal any, but the appearance of a cult protagonist from the first Playstation denotes a love for the company’s legacy that gives an interesting added value to the game.

But the really interesting thing about the set is the experience of playing it itself, enriched not only by areas that are mere “playgrounds”, but by all the sensory possibilities that the controller offers: aquatic areas, with grass, metallic, with different textures that are felt in the hands in a way that is only within reach of the haptic vibration of the DualSense. And of course, an interesting demonstration of the possibilities of the adaptive triggers, which further differentiate the good repertoire of weapons and items at our disposal.

For those who find all this far from their needs as gamers and aspire to more compelling challenges, it must be added that we had the opportunity to play a couple of levels that made us sweat before completing them. In them, we had to play with a device that slowed down time and turned impossible platforms into very difficult ones (only). We also faced a giant octopus, but despite its status as the final boss , the challenge was much more palatable than in that planetary hell that, due to its design of asteroids and rings of cosmic debris, reminded us of certain passages in ‘Super Mario Galaxy‘.

We asked Nicolas Doucet, director of Team Asobi, about this very subject. He tells us that they don’t want to leave out any type of player: “The first galaxy would perhaps be for a casual player with low skills, but everything becomes progressively more difficult. For more experienced people we developed other types of challenges, more complicated levels: when we talk about platforms, the precision of the control to get a perfect jump is very important, and we have taken care of it in other moments of the game.”

 

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