You need to play the best platformer of the last decade for free ASAP
VR meets Super Mario 64 but for PlayStation.
There are almost too many games to choose from right now. Between PS Plus freebies, Xbox Game Pass additions, and retro classics available through Nintendo Online. With Sony giving away 10 free games via its Play at Home program, that paralyzing indecision of what to play next has only deepened.
For those that have a PSVR, drop whatever you’re playing right now. Because we’re not exaggerating when we say that the best VR game of all time is available for free right now.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission is free to claim for all PlayStation owners.
To be fair, calling something “the best VR game of all time” may not be that impressive. After all, there haven’t been a ton of VR killer apps beyond Half-Life: Alyx. But Astro Bot Rescue Mission takes full advantage of the technology in ways that so many VR games get wrong.
The game itself is a traditional 3D platformer about an adorable little robot that can hop, punch, and hover its way over obstacles. The game is a predecessor to PS5 freebie Astro’s Playroom and features the same basic movement and level design. Whereas Astro’s Playroom is a tech demo for what the DualSense controller can do, Rescue Mission is all about getting the most out of VR.
And it really does.
What makes the game work so well is how eagerly it plays around with perspective. Rather than tossing a regular 3D platformer into VR, everything feels custom-built for the specific experience of the technology. Players need to crane their neck around corners to find secrets. Bosses tower over Astro and look genuinely gigantic. The game even experiments with the PS4 controller’s touchpad in clever ways to make the experience more tactile.
There’s a lot of joy to be found as it challenges the boundaries of what’s possible in these new dimensions.
In that sense, its best comparison isn’t another VR game, it’s Super Mario 64.
The classic Nintendo 64 platformer takes a similar approach, rethinking what a Mario game can accomplish in 3D while having a lot of fun experimenting within the medium. Back when it was released in 1996, Super Mario 64 was a revelation that set a new template for modern games.
What Super Mario 64 did for 3D games, Astro Bot Rescue Mission does for VR.
Every moment of it is carefully constructed to make the technology feel special. Outside of a headset, it might just feel like a run-of-the-mill platformer. But once you’re strapped inside a PSVR headset, Rescue Mission feels like the kind of game that’ll make you want to pass the PSVR to a friend. It has big “You’ve got to try this!” energy.
Above all its heady design strengths, it is simply a delight to play. A tight platformer with excellent level design, inventive tools, and memorable boss battles, it has a lot of things going for it. That’s where the Super Mario 64 comparison especially comes into play. Between Rescue Mission and Astro’s Playroom, the Astro series is quickly becoming this generation’s Mario, except for Sony consoles.
If the developers can keep the momentum going and find more ways to play with tech, expect big things in the franchise’s future.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is available for free via Sony’s Play at Home program.