Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is a definite contender for the top VR game this holiday season, even though it’s still early in October. Here’s our review of this Playstation VR exclusive.
If Astro Bot looks kind of familiar, then you’re right – this isn’t the first time we’re seeing these cute little robots. They also featured in Robot Rescue, arguably the best game in Sony’s Playroom VR collection of minigames (which by the way is totally free and an essential download for Playstation VR owners). Rescue Mission wasn’t designed with couch co-op in mind though, as it’s much more of a traditional platformer somewhat similar to Moss.
And like Moss, Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is a delight to play. It’s a third person platformer with small levels in which you view the action from a fixed perspective. Through VR, this allows you to peek around corners and look in various nooks and crannies in order to find hidden extras and objectives – the main one being to find as many of your fellow Astro Bots as possible, as they have been spread across the game world after an alien attack.
Taking another cue from games like Moss, Astro Bot: Rescue Mission also doesn’t treat you as just a passive spectator but makes you an entity in the game – crafting a special bond with its protagonists. In Astro Bot you’re present in the game’s levels as a giant robot, and you can interact with the game world in a variety of ways – including headbutting through obstacles. You also visually see your gamepad in the game, and can use it creatively as you start unlocking new powers to attach to your controller. This, in turn, helps your little Astro Bot navigate a level’s challenges – truly making him your little buddy as he tries to rescue his friends.
While the basic platforming is easy enough and most puzzles aren’t too challenging to overcome, you can ramp up the difficulty level by going for the game’s many hidden collectibles, challenges and other optional content. In most cases this is a case of using special (gamepad-enabled) controls and visually exploring the environment by looking around and peeking around obstacles and corners.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission has some excellent level (and boss battle) design going for it, most of it clearly built from the ground up for VR – which is showcased especially well when you look for some of the optional content. This content also helps justify the purchase price, as Rescue Mission is at the higher end of the mid-priced range but has tons of optional/replay content in addition to the short-ish campaign for you to enjoy.
Visually, Astro: Bot: Rescue Mission plays it relatively safe with a familiar look and a bright cartoon-like style that doesn’t need much detail to be effective. Moss’ graphics are more detailed and effective in crafting that game’s storybook diorama feel, while Astro Bot aims to be more like a classic platformer in VR – something it succeeds at, with a catchy soundtrack to match.
I wouldn’t say that Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is PSVR’s new killer app, or even the best platformer for the system (it’s a toss-up with Moss for that title), but it certainly is a very well-polished and fun platformer, and an essential purchase if you enjoyed other platformers in VR.