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What Critics Are Saying About Astro's Playroom And PS5 DualSense

The PlayStation 5 has quite a few selling features, such as its ever-growing list of exclusive games and 3D audio (which unfortunately won't work with standard TV speakers). However, two of the console's biggest boons are the DualSense controller and the platformer game Astro's Playroom.


The DualSense controller is designed to provide a new level of tactile feedback through haptic rumble and adaptive trigger motors, while Astro's Playroom is meant to resurrect the long-lost art of the pack-in game. While most gamers won't get their hands on the PS5, its DualSense controller, or Astro's Playroom until Nov. 12 — or later, given the PS5 pre-order kerfuffle — some outlets received early review copies of all three, and apparently reviewers are impressed.

Normally, pack-in games and launch titles are supposed to demonstrate the capabilities of a console, but the PS5's capabilities stretch beyond the speed of its SSD and the graphical punch of its 10.28 TFLOPs GPU. The DualSense's haptic feedback is also a key part of the PS5 experience, and according to critics, Astro's Playroom takes full advantage of the controller's new tech. So, you really can't review one without the other. Still, critics mostly loved what they saw on screen and felt in hand.


For early previews, critics explored the first world of Astro's Playroom: Cooling Springs. While it is unclear if reviewers were only allowed to play that one world or if they got to experience the whole game but couldn't share the rest due to review embargoes, sites such as Tom's Hardware and IGN praised the game's graphics and aesthetics. IGN likened the experience to a Nintendo game, which is high praise when it comes to platformers.

As Kotaku pointed out, Astro's Playroom doesn't drive the 3D platformer formula forward. The game's starring robot, Astro Bot, can do all the things gamers have come to expect from video game robots, such as punch, charge up a spin attack, and hover. These basics carry over from the previous Astro Bot game, but that isn't a knock against Astro's Playroom since the moves function as intended. Plus, the game's focus is on the DualSense controller, not reinventing the platformer wheel.

ASOBI Team put a lot of effort into the DualSense's haptic feedback in Astro's Playroom. Whenever Astro Bot dived into water, IGN noticed a "vague, wavy rumble" that made the controller feel as if it were floating, and when Astro braced himself against a sandstorm, the entire controller shook with the ferocity of a desert wind. Meanwhile, Polygon felt each tiny step of Astro Bot tink along the controller whenever he tiptoed on glass. Reviewers also noticed similar sensations when using the DualSense's adaptive triggers.


During several 2D sections, Astro Bot transformed into a robot frog — and reviewers had to zip up the frog suit using the DualSense's touchpad. According to Kotaku, the suit hopped slightly by tilting the controller left or right, and they could channel the suit's froggy nature by pressing a trigger to jump. One quick tap resulted in a short hop, while holding down the trigger made the suit leap longer distances. 

However, reviewers had to really hold down the trigger to get some distance. Polygon noticed that the trigger stopped about halfway while pulling, and they needed to put some real finger power into the trigger to push past that point. However, Astro's Playroom will come with the option to turn off adaptive triggers, so you can push down on triggers as normal, if you want.

Not every feature received universal praise. For example, some areas in Astro's Playroom utilized the DualSense's built-in microphone. Instead of asking reviewers to use voice commands, however, the game required them to blow into the microphone. Venture Beat loved this mechanic, while Polygon was less than enthused, likening the experience to blowing into a Nintendo DS mic (comparisons to Nintendo can run both ways).


While sites such as IGN and Tom's Hardware questioned the staying power of the DualSense's haptic feedback (i.e., if Sony will utilize the feature in future games or quietly abandon it), many sites agreed that Astro's Playroom is a stellar game. As Venture Beat stated, Astro's Playroom is "the ideal first experience for a new PlayStation 5 owner" since the game demonstrates "what makes their new controller special" and celebrates previous PlayStation consoles.