For the longest time, I can't say that I was really aware of "Astro Bot: Rescue Mission," and of all the VR games that I was looking forward to, I can't say this popped up on my list. That said, my brother decided to buy a copy of the game after trying out "THE PLAYROOM VR" (a free, glorified tech demo for the game) and he very highly recommended that I give it a whirl. I tried one level in it, but was immersed so much in it that it became a title I absolutely needed to play through. And now that I've beaten it, I can say it's definitely a pretty great VR adventure.
"Astro Bot: Rescue Mission" advertises itself as a 3D mascot platformer with a VR spin to it, and I can certainly say it looks the part. The visuals are colorful and very sharp (even though the VR can often downgrade those a good bit), the sound design is very strong, with clever sound effects and catchy music, and the game plays as well as your standard 3D platformer would play. What gives the game an edge over said standard 3D platformers, though, is how well it integrates the VR into its play. I worried about how necessary the VR would be to a 3D platformer, especially one that used a regular controller, but I can assure you that "Astro Bot: Rescue Mission" feels like it couldn't have been done without the VR. Having the VR serve as your in-game camera provides a fantastic new twist on the 3D platformer, and the way that the VR plays with things like depth perception is so fantastic and clever (it also doesn't hurt that there are a ton of "wow factor" moments coming from things like having your head underwater, birds randomly flying by you, etc.). And fortunately, while you will be moving around a bit, the movement is minimal enough that this won't make you as dizzy as, say, "Blood & Truth" will (it also helps that "Astro Bot: Rescue Mission" is easier to play when sitting down, too). There were several points while playing where I felt like "Astro Bot: Rescue Mission" could be to the VR what games like "Super Mario Bros." was to the platformer genre, and what "Super Mario 64" was to 3D gaming.
For much of the early game, I had a feeling this could've been my first 10/10 rating for a PSVR game, and I felt all ready to crown the game as the best title available on VR. However, I started to find a few problems with the game. To be completely honest, I felt it honestly could've been a bit shorter. I know that might seem bizarre, given that some VR games need to be short so that you don't make yourself sick wearing the headset, but in the case of "Astro Bot: Rescue Mission," while the game starts excellently, it sort of crawls its way to the finish as we get to the last few worlds. By the end of World 3, the game seemed to have exhausted a good deal of those "wow" moments I mentioned earlier, to the point where the last few worlds just feel a bit lackluster by comparison. Not only that, but by that point, you do start to notice that the level design gets a bit repetitive, and while the levels are beautifully crafted, they start to feel too same-y by that point.
Even so, while the last few worlds do take away from the game a tiny bit, "Astro Bot: Rescue Mission" is still a pretty great VR title. It might not be my personal favorite game on the PlayStation VR, but the game definitely expands wonderfully on a tried-and-true formula, providing a game that serves as a pleasant introduction to VR for younger audiences, while a charming and clever enough one for older audiences. As one of the leading exclusive titles for the PlayStation VR, I can see this being a killer app, and it's a definitely a game to try if you own Sony's virtual reality headset.
Final rating: 8 out of 10 "Great"