You need to play Astro Bot Rescue Mission immediately. It’s not just that the titular hero Astro is adorable (he is). It’s not even just because the levels are a marathon of creative platforming experiences (they are). It’s because in a year filled with excellent takes on the virtual reality medium, Japan Studio has expertly threaded the needle to create an insanely fun platformer that will stand as a landmark for what all VR games should aspire to be.
After Astro’s buddies get abducted and spread out across different worlds, it’s up to you to help him find and rescue his crew members. It’s a fun premise on its own, but being transported into the unique and fully realised levels is a feeling like no other. It’s such a seamless platforming experience that had me twisting, turning, and poking my head around corners determined to save every last bot.
I was shocked at how well I fit into the whole world as the player. On top of controlling Astro, the player adds a helping hand through the DualShock 4, which manifests within the game and serves as a specialised tool that made me feel actively part of the world in a way that no other VR title has before.
This third-person perspective also creates a twist on traditional platforming, pushing you to move your head and body to help solve puzzles and guide Astro on his mission. It’s a perfect fit for PS VR, and you’ll find yourself forgetting the world around you while following alongside Astro.
The worlds and levels are inventive, animated with crisp colour and capped off with larger-than-life boss fights that had me feeling just as small as Astro. I found myself gawking at the quirky level designs and replaying worlds so I could take in every detail. Manipulating the environments to clear a path for Astro feels completely natural, the controls intuitive and easy to grasp just minutes into playing. I can honestly say I’ve never felt more comfortable in the PS VR headset, and not a moment went by that I didn’t have a smile on my face.
It’s always exciting to watch the creativity that springs from a new medium. As a platformer alone, Astro Bot Rescue Mission is a delightful and gratifying game that would be a joy to play even in 2D, but the way Japan Studio has wielded their understanding of PS VR catapults it into a new stratosphere of fun to make it an essential PS VR game, and one of the best gaming experiences of the year.
What was your favourite title of 2018? Vote now in the annual PlayStation Blog Game of the Year poll.