Packaged with every PlayStation 5 is Astro’s Playroom. Developed by Asobi Team, Astro’s Playroom is a platformer that showcases the unique features of the DualSense controller while highlighting the high points of Sony’s long history. Reception to Astro’s Playroom has been exceptionally positive, with many finding it to be a pleasant surprise that exceeds expectations. Gameplay has you taking control of a cute robot named Astro as you explore four worlds, each with its own theme. In the list below, I rank the four worlds of Astro’s Playroom from least favorite to most.
4. Cooling Springs
What is better than spending a sunny day out on the beach? Probably nothing if you are asking Astro. Your adventures in Cooling Springs begin on a sandy shoreline where the sun shines bright and warm winds blow. It is a great introduction to the haptics of the DualSense that can simulate the feel of different textures. The coarse sand feels rough in your hands and demonstrates the immersive potential the controller has.
Cooling Springs also features Springy Spa, a level which has Astro throwing on a bouncy suit and hopping through a series of obstacles. This level makes great use of the DualSense’s adaptive triggers and really makes you feel like you are compressing a spring every time you bounce.
Not all of Cooling Springs is fair weather, however. Frigid Floes is a frozen land that will have Astro shivering as he slips and slides everywhere. Although short, this level is memorable for introducing the gimmick of having you blow into the DualSense’s microphone to spin a propeller on a sheet of ice.
Ultimately, what earns Cooling Springs its last place position on this list is not anything to do with some glaring flaw or insurmountable difficulty. Instead, in being too laid back of a world it gets outshined by the other worlds which have much more personality.
3. SSD Speedway
Prior to launch, one of the biggest selling points of the PlayStation 5 was the SSD which promised to minimize load times and allow developers to change the way they design games. In Astro’s Playroom, the SSD gets represented by SSD Speedway, a fast-paced world filled with neon lights, red clouds, and star-spangled skies.
One of the coolest parts of SSD Speedway is the fancy ball gun you obtain in Deep Dataspace. Using it, you can blast enemies from afar and feel how the adaptive triggers respond to your input.
SSD Speedway features perhaps the most visually captivating level in all of Astro’s Playroom, Caching Caves. Here, Astro pilots a cute little one-man spacecraft through dark caves filled with surprises. The neon colors bouncing off the grey walls look magnificent and the plumes of color that escape from the exhausts of Astro’s spacecraft are dazzling.
Of the four worlds of Astro’s Playroom, SSD Speedway is perhaps the only one that has the potential to be frustratingly difficult. Sections that have you gliding can be finicky, as they rely on motion control which also comes into play in Caching Caves where you have to carefully navigate narrow passages and skinny tunnels. After an extended period of play, I found that constantly using motion control made my wrists hurt which, of course, made progressing less fun. Nevertheless, none of this was enough to stop me from coming back and finding all the collectibles.
2. Memory Meadow
Anyone who has been on the PlayStation platform for a few gaming generations will appreciate Memory Meadow. It is packed full of little references that are sure to spark nostalgia and remind you of all the good times you have had with Sony. You will find funny little references to Death Stranding, Ghost of Tsushima, and Shadow of the Colossus, to name a few.
Be sure to bring an umbrella, however, because Memory Meadow is a rainy place. With the DualSense controller in your hands, you will feel every droplet hitting Astro. As Astro is hopping from cloud to cloud, you will also have to be aware of lightning strikes that could zap you if you make a wrong move.
The most underutilized aspect of the DualShock 4, in my humble opinion, was the touchpad. Although it had great potential, not many games seemed interested in even acknowledging its existence or using it for anything other than a really large button. The DualSense’s touchpad gets well used in Memory Meadow thanks to Fastlane Fields, a level where Astro jumps into a ball and rolls his way through an obstacle course in the sky. Navigating requires careful use of the DualSense’s touchpad which proves to be quite enjoyable and surprisingly accurate.
One of the elements of Memory Meadow that make this world standout is its bubbly soundtrack that is sure to have you smiling as you nod your head along. In fact, all the worlds have wonderful soundtracks but Memory Meadow is just happiness in sound form.
1. GPU Jungle
Ranking first is GPU Jungle which contains the best parts of all the previous worlds of Astro’s Playroom. Much like Memory Meadow it has amusing references to past PlayStation games including Final Fantasy XV, Horizon Zero Dawn, Bloodborne, The Last of Us, and Crash Bandicoot. It also features a criminally infectious soundtrack that you will find impossible to not hum along to.
The platforming puzzles of GPU Jungle are varied and fun without being too difficult. By far my favorite levels are Teraflops Treetops and Mt. Motherboard which both see Astro zipping up a monkey suit and climbing a sheer mountain. Although this section also requires motion control, it is not nearly intense as any of the previous worlds. GPU Jungle also lets you play around with a nifty bow and arrow which acquaints you with the DualSense’s adaptive triggers once again. Be careful where you point that thing though, because many of the puzzles require using the bow in places you would not expect.
Many of the collectibles in GPU Jungle are well-hidden, so you will probably have to explore this world a couple of times before you find them all. It is not a frustrating experience, however, because of how vibrantly colorful everything is. The world is filled with many minor details that will make you smile when you finally realize what is being referenced.
Asobi Team certainly outdid themselves with Astro’s Playroom. Regardless of where they rank, none of the four worlds of Astro’s Playroom are duds, and they each expertly show off the DualSense’s abilities in a game that is fun enough to warrant more than a few playthroughs. Whether you agree with this list or not, Astro’s Playroom is an unmissable title for any PlayStation 5 owner.