Astro Bot: Rescue Mission Review (PS4)
An adorable little robot, ingenious stage design and an utterly incredible sense of involvement make this adventure a VR must-play
AnalysisWhile the jury is still out on whether or not the world is truly ready for commercial VR yet, early adopters will be quick to tell you that there's no shortage of amazing games already. WipEout's high-speed futuristic racing is insane in VR, Star Trek: Bridge Crew allows Trekkies to take command of the Enterprise like never before, Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes sets up headset-centric multiplayer in an intense and hilarious way... the games are there, but between the nature of VR (and how susceptible to motion sickness some players can be) and the infancy of the hardware (wireless devices with higher resolutions will help here in the future), the audience isn't as big as it could be, nor as big as some of the amazing VR exclusives out there deserve.
Here's another such game to add to the pile – a charming and creative platformer that builds upon the ideas first seen in the Astro Bot demo that came with The Playroom VR when the headset first launched. Even back then, it was seen as hands down the best part of that free sampler and fans were keen to see more of the cute little robo-hero, and Sony finally delivered exactly that to a rapturous welcome.
A charming and creative platformer
To break it down in a slightly reductionist manner, Rescue Mission is largely an into-the-screen platformer with a camera that pulls forward as the mechanical hero progresses through each stage. But as you'd expect from a VR game, it's nowhere near that simple. You need to keep your eyes peeled in all directions by actively looking around (let's just say you might need a bit of space to play if you want to find all collectables), and there are times when you'll need to actively aid your robo-friend by headbutting obstacles, blowing objects away, or using one of several gadgets via motion control integration with the controller.
Grappling hooks let you plant precarious walkways for your little buddy or pull down obstacles, water guns let you grow plants or clear hazards, throwing stars help deal with enemies... it's a real co-op adventure with player and protagonist working in tandem and that just gives the game an incredible sense of involvement.
Mecha Mario 64
- Inventive stage design
- Utterly charming
- Great showcase for VR tech
- VR isn't for everyone
- Camera follow prevents backtracking
- Makes most other VR games look bad
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission Review (PS4)With every level adding in new features and concepts, Rescue Mission is a real journey of discovery and one that highlights and plays to the strengths of the VR format like few other games we could care to mention.
It's almost a shame that so wholesome and family-friendly a game can't (or rather probably shouldn't) be enjoyed by younger players – although VR itself doesn't come with an actual age restriction, most platform holder recommend the headsets only be used by players mid-teens and up to avoid damaging young eyes, but Astro Bot would make a perfect introduction to VR for smaller players.
To be fair, they'll probably enjoy yelling along at the second screen just as much, as this is a game that oozes charm and there's never a dull moment. Rescue Mission would be a fun and creative platformer even without the VR aspect, but the way it leans into this niche is what truly makes it stand out as one of the finest VR releases to date.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £29.99
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