Review: Astro Bot Rescue Mission
Cute little alien robot on a quest to save their friends makes for a charming old-school platform adventure in VR.
Though not exclusively tied to the PlayStation VR, the cute little ‘Astro Bot’ alien-robot-things who were previously found on the Playroom VR launch compilation have become to de-facto mascots for Sony’s virtual reality (VR) system. Now they are embarking on their own videogame adventure.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission is a platform title, which on the PlayStation VR automatically invites comparisons with Moss. Indeed, Astro Bot Rescue Mission shares some of the cute and charm of Moss, but instead of the storybook fantasy of Moss, complete with its hints of darkness and peril, Astro Bot Rescue Mission heads in something of a different direction.
All the controls are handled using the Dual Shock 4 controller, which makes perfect sense for a platforming title. There are some fairly tight jumps that need to be made from fairly early on, and the controls are pleasantly responsive. The 360-degree world also means it is easier to judge angle and distance that might be expected from a platform title, which in turn improves the gameplay flow. As you progress you pick up additional items which each have their own button on the controller to activate them, such as the hook shot and water gun, this are similarly easy to handle, with the exception of the throwing stars, which seemed a little tricky for some reason.
The graphics are quite attractive, though they lack the lushness of the environments of Moss, they are nonetheless pleasing to look at. Looking around the environments becomes quite important once you realise there are hidden paths for you to find, some of which are lurking in unexpected places.
Gameplay flow is impressively good, and it is very easy to get sucked in as you go running, jumping and swinging through the levels, aiding your cute robot companion in finding his crew, who adorably, ride around in a spaceship shaped like a Dual Shock controller. The boss fights can get surprisingly intense, and do sometimes require ingenuity to figure out how to beat them, which often involves the player and Astro Bot working in tandem, with your magical Dual Shock powers creating an opening for Astro Bot to exploit.
The overall aesthetic is cartoonish and colourful, bringing to mind some of the 3D Mario titles, such as the recent Mario Odyssey. The smooth flow and satisfying platform action, meanwhile, favour Mario’s eternal rival, Sonic with some of the faster-paced platform and running segments resembling some of Sonic’s better 3D outings, such as Sonic Colours.
While there is, superficially a story in Astro Bot Rescue Mission, it is only really there to kick-start the gameplay, though the interactions between Astro Bot and his crew are reasonably cute.
While Astro Bot Rescue Mission isn’t quite as charming as Moss, or as superbly crafted as Mario Odyssey, it is a great old-school platformer for the VR era, bringing some of the best features of both 2D and 3D platformers of old and incorporating VR in a way that doesn’t feel awkward. This is a fun, lighthearted way to spend some time in VR, and worth checking out.