Astro Bot: Rescue Mission

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission Game Poster Image
Adorable platformer adventure raises the VR gaming bar.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Game features themes of friendship, helping others, exploration.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Astro is a good-natured robot on a mission to rescue all of his lost friends. Despite being on strange and unfamiliar worlds, he never hesitates to charge forward and overcome anything standing between him and helping his stranded brethren.

Ease of Play

The game's a basic platformer adventure game, but with a unique first-person perspective. The controls are simple to pick up and play, but players will need to take an occasional break due to the VR environment.

Violence

Violence is mild and cartoonish. Players jump on enemies and use gadgets to defeat minions and bosses. Defeated enemies generally just disappear or fall off the screen when defeated.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is a virtual reality action/adventure game available exclusively for the PlayStation VR. Players take control of Astro, the diminutive robot and spaceship captain, as it travels to different planets on a quest to rescue his stranded friends. Players run, jump, and fight their way through different locales, collecting coins and hidden items along the way. Violence in the game is very light and cartoonish in nature, though Astro uses items like a water cannon, throwing stars, and more to help him defeat his enemies. Enemies generally just disappear in flashes of light or fall offscreen when defeated. Parents should also be aware that virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids under 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.

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What's it about?

It's hard not to consider the cute little robots from The Playroom and The Playroom VR as sort of unofficial mascots for the PlayStation 4 and PSVR, but now, one of those bots is getting his own adventure in ASTRO BOT: RESCUE MISSION. The game begins with Astro and his robot friends cruising through the universe in their spaceship when an alien suddenly attacks, stealing valuable equipment and scattering the bots to the various planets in the star system. Now it's up to Astro to explore each of these strange new worlds to rescue his crew. Players take direct control of Astro, using the PSVR headset to join his journey, guiding him through 20 different stages that range from bright cityscapes and lush jungles to dark caves and burning volcanoes. Find yourself in a jam? Whip out your trusty DualShock 4 controller and use any of its built-in gadgets to put out fires, swing over vast chasms, and otherwise help Astro to save the day.

Is it any good?

This clever virtual reality platforming adventure stands out as an excellent example of what the evolution of platforming adventures could become. Astro Bot: Rescue Mission never loses sight of the fact that the real hero of the game is Astro, the adorable robot mascot first seen in The Playroom and The Playroom VR. The game puts players into the role of Astro's partner, able to scout out locations from all angles with your 360-degree view of the environment and lend the hero a bit of extra aid when it's needed. You still control Astro and are responsible for its jumps, attacks, etc., but you're able to take in the whole scene and act accordingly. It's a fun twist on both the standard VR and the platform game formula, and it adds something fresh and exciting to both.

Even without the VR hook, Astro Bot: Rescue Mission would be a great platform game. The level design is great, offering plenty of challenge without ever being too difficult or frustrating. Using Astro's various gadgets to interact with the environment adds a level of puzzle-solving strategy as you find ways to help Astro get from point A to point B safely. Each stage has its own flavor and personality, as does each boss you face along the way. Admittedly, the minions are a bit generic, but that's a minor issue. The VR wisely comes into play when you're judging distances and angles, finding the best ways for Astro to advance. It also encourages players to take in the environments -- not just to admire the scenery, but to look for hidden goodies tucked away. Players will need to take plenty of breaks from the game, though, as the VR's constantly shifting and shaking view can get a bit dizzying. Still, if you've got a PSVR unit, you owe it to yourself to pick up Astro Bot: Rescue Mission. It's not only one of the best PSVR titles available to date, but also one of the best platforming games you'll find on the PlayStation 4.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about evolution of VR tech in entertainment. How has VR technology changed the ways we have fun? What does the future hold for VR entertainment?

  • How can VR technology be used to benefit people's lives? What are some of the pitfalls and adverse effects of VR tech?

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