Packed-in with the PS4 is The Playroom, one of the only titles that actually takes advantage of the PlayStation 4′s camera peripheral at launch. The Playroom is a game comprised of three different AR activities, and it just so happens that it brings the charm tenfold. And hey, you really can’t beat “free”, can you?
The Playroom is designed to not only show off the impressive AR capabilities of PS4, but to showcase the new functionality of DualShock 4 as well. One of the most significant additions to the controller is a touchpad that works extremely well in enhancing gameplay experiences. The touchpad works perfectly and just as designed. It just takes slight swiping motions for any of the input required by the touchpad.
Almost everything in The Playroom uses the touchpad, from actual input in the mini AR games to the menu navigation. The PS Camera picks everything up flawlessly. The technology at work here is extremely impressive and could go a long way in enhancing a lot of games down the road if Sony and third party developers truly take advantage of the technology.
But to the actual games. The first AR game that you’ll encounter is called Play with ASOBI. ASOBI is a drone that flies around your living room and can be interacted with in a variety of different ways. Part of the fun of The Playroom is discovering all the different ways that the software can be interacted with, and discovering all these secrets also yields trophy rewards for extra incentive.
The second AR game is AR Bots. In this mode, ASOBI packs the DualShock 4 controller full of little robots that can be deployed by swiping “up” on the touchpad. At that point, they can be messed around with like other AR creatures in other games. This mode is also filled with amusing secrets just waiting to be discovered.
And finally, the third game adds local multiplayer to the mix in the form of AR Hockey. This mode basically imitates Pong, with the field of play determined by the distance between the two controllers in real life. Moving the controllers around can warp the field of play, which can be an effective strategy. All of the input with this is done using the touchpad, which may prove to be a little too sensitive for a game like this that requires more precision, but it is still fun and, much like the other two AR games, just loaded with charm.
The visuals are really simplistic in The Playroom. Most of the game is simply a result of seeing your living room on the TV, with the animated characters being rendered without too much detail or anything that takes advantage of PS4′s graphical capabilities. The game does manage to fit a lot of different characters on screen at one time with no slowdown or anything of that regard, but considering the minimalist approach to the graphics, this comes as no surprise.
What’s disappointing about The Playroom is definitely the sound design. It’s just so generic and uninspired. Even the smallest of games should have good music, as that good music can go a long way in making the game seem even better.
There’s also not a whole lot to do in the game. It can be completed 100% in less than an hour, easily. Granted, it was free, but we’ve seen pack-in titles with a lot more depth than this in the past, so it’s still kind of hard to excuse it. That being said, there is some DLC planned for it a little bit down the road and the current story is that the DLC will be released free of charge. To sweeten the pot, the DLC is being developed by the talented folks at Double Fine.
When I need to show off what makes PS4 cool, I’m always going to start up The Playroom. It’s not going to show the graphical improvements that the PS4 provides, but it does show impressive new AR technology that the PS4 is capable of as well as shows the truly spectacular new functionality that the DualShock 4 brings to the table. The Playroom is currently one of the only games that takes advantage of the PlayStation 4 Camera peripheral, and it’s also one of the coolest launch titles for the system.
Tested on PlayStation 4. Final Score: 8.0/10