I’ve grown pessimistic in my old age. I tried virtual reality for the first time with an HTC Vive and some of the quintessential VR titles of the time like Space Pirate Trainer, SuperHot VR, and The Lab. I was impressed with the tech but I didn’t see myself doing any of it for an extended period of time. I saw it like Wii Sports; I didn’t buy a Nintendo Wii for Wii Sports. I waited for Super Mario Galaxy’s impending arrival before I pulled the trigger on a Wii.
Then Astro Bot: Rescue Mission made waves with many equating it to a Super Mario title. Couple that praise and a very attractive Black Friday deal and I was convinced that I had to own a PlayStation VR.
I wouldn’t if someone told me Team Awobi were comprised of ex-Nintendo designers. The ideas and nuance demonstrated in Astro Bot: Rescue Mission would not be out of place in a Super Mario title. A straight forward romp through the five worlds filled me with wonderous VR tricks and spectacles. If I just left it at that, I would have come away with a very positive VR experience. I would have collected just enough robots to unlock all the worlds to finish the game.
I found Astro Bot: Rescue Mission was as much of a demonstration of the DualShock 4 as it was of PlayStation VR. Tight platforming controls on a DualShock 4 controller wasn’t novel but transforming the controller into a water cannon, grappling hook, and other tools made allowed me to interact in the VR space without the need for PlayStation Move controllers. The marriage of a well made platformer with well made VR exclusive gimmicks and abilities brought me an experience that was both deeper and more diverse experiences.
When I took the next step and approached each level with VR rules and capabilities in mind, I was rewarded with additional robots and other hidden secrets. I was able to deduce the locations of all but a handful of robots and hidden chameleons by peeking a certain way doing what made sense in VR. I looked high, low, behind me, above me, and below me in an effort to find all these living collectibles.
The hardware powering PlayStation VR wasn’t perfect. A hold of the Options button fixed most of its tracking issues but every once in a while, a full level reload was required to fix the orientation of the DualShock 4. The stylized visuals played to the PlayStation 4 Pro’s strengths; anything too realistic often looked far too grimey on an already less than ideal level of clarity offered by the PlayStation VR’s headset.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission convinced me there was a pathway to infuse virtual reality ideas into 3D platforming. It was reminiscent of playing Super Mario Galaxy for the first time. New and refreshing ideas were being introduced right until the very end which meant every play session was filled with joy. It’s the title that I was constantly wanting to rope my significant other, my brother, and anyone who will listen to try. It was genuinely wonderful and should not be missed.
I loved it