You think next-gen consoles, your mind automatically hovers to the idea of style over substance. And that’s fair! For several generations, graphical improvements have driven console manufacturers to create machines that are capable of incredible visuals. That push was always to reach a glass ceiling of what was technically possible though, and this generation is kicking off with machines that still boast bleeding edge tech but are also focused on more quality of life improvements than anything else.
If Sony has an ace up its sleeve though, it’s the idea of how a game can be played. While Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Series S controllers are terrific refinements of established technology, the PS5’s DualSense controller feels next-gen. Literally. This is an evolution of controller design that began more than two decades ago with the introduction of the DualShock and the DualShock Rumble on the original PlayStation One, and right now, Astro’s Playroom is a stunning example of what the DualSense is truly capable of.
Whenever Sony has needed to show off any new significant PlayStation hardware, Astro has been the adorable digitised face leading the charge. The last time it made a splash, it was in the amazing Astro Bot Rescue Mission that came with PlayStation VR. For the PlayStation 5, it’s Astro’s Playroom that is serving as an enjoyable tech demo for the console, and every time I think of playing it my hands tremble with excitement.
That’s because you can genuinely feel every action you take in the game.To be fair, it’s a colourful platformer with a handful of tightly-designed levels, unlockables to earn coin for and plenty of distractions. It won’t cost you a single penny as it comes installed on the PS5, but the way that it makes use of the DualSense controller is truly mind and hand-blowing stuff.
Every little footstep, action, and activity is fed into the DualSense controller, whose sophisticated rumblings managed to precisely pinpoint which part of your had should receive haptic feedback sensations. I genuinely cannot stress just how good the game feels. On its own it’d be an easily-forgettable platformer starring the cutest android around, but fine-tuned for the PS5 DualSense controller it’s not only good fun that can be done in an afternoon: It’s digital self-justification for spending a hefty sum of cash on the console.
Near-instantaneous load times and beautifully rendered levels are par for the course here, but Astro’s latest adventure will stick with you long after you’ve had your fill due to the sensations it constantly throws at your hands. It’ll chew through your controller as well as you use every single part of the DualSense buffalo to entertaining effect, but it’s a demo for the future that’ll have you hopeful for the future of PlayStation and the potential lurking underneath the hood of not only the console but its peripherals as well.
Last Updated: November 12, 2020