Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Rating: E for Everyone
When I first picked up my PlayStation VR, I wondered: why would I ever want to play a 3rd-person game in VR? The promise of VR was supposed to be for 1st-person immersion, to feel like you are really there in these impossible and fantastic situations. The assumption is that the only way to fulfill these promises in VR is by letting the player see everything from the protagonist’s point of view and walk in their shoes. Thankfully, developer Polyarc’s VR title Moss shows us just how wrong that assumption is.
Violence: The main protagonist Quill uses her sword to vanquish enemies. The fantasy violence is not graphic as there is no blood or gore.
Positive content: Quill’s unwavering loyalty to family is apparent and her continued willingness to help others shines through.
In Moss, you play as a Reader, a magical being who is tasked with helping the mouse warrior Quill on her quest to rescue her uncle and defeat the darkness that has taken over her world. You control her actions with the analog stick and X, Square, and Circle buttons, while you as the Reader have a glowing spherical orb that you move by physically moving your dual-shock controller. The Reader can move large blocks, raise tiles, heal Quill, and even pet her, which she loves by the way.
At its most basic, Moss is an adventure puzzle-platformer in the spirit of the best Legend of Zelda games. You and Quill team up to fight enemies and solve puzzles as you work your way through idyllic lost towns, oppressive marshes, and crumbling ruins. The combat is simple but fluid, and the puzzles range in difficulty from blinding obvious to deviously complex. It takes a mix of timing, lateral thinking, and strategy to get through the best of the puzzles. If you get stumped, Quill will often stop and point the way or at least give you a hint.
Quill’s animations alone are worth focusing on. All of her movements are fluid, quick, and mouse-like. From the way she gracefully vaults up short obstacles, to the way she shakes herself off when getting out of water, Quill immediately has a character and personality that stands out and makes you take notice—you should feel terrible (hopefully) each time you accidentally kill her.
While the gameplay is well thought out and entertaining, the star is the visual experience. Moss is the most detailed and most breathtakingly beautiful game I’ve played on PS VR. Those of you who have played the demo had a taste of what to expect, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Moss looks amazing and it’s because of the scale.
Moss grounds you in Quill’s world by giving you a sense of how tiny and delicate her world is. At the same time, it’s expansive, and videos of the game don’t do it justice. In VR, you see the world at Quill’s scale, but you are constantly reminded of how small she is by seeing deer or even old-rusted human-size armor as part of the background. Scale is everything, making mouse-sized corridors feel cavernous, but in the next moment, making you feel just how small and fragile Quill is as she faces off against a life-sized boss.
Almost every time a new area loaded I was amazed by the sight. While most gamers cry out for more open-world titles, Moss’s designers have shown a completely new way to show off depth and reality. This depth and beauty comes at a cost however, as Moss is too short lasting only up to three hours and that was with me taking my time trying to discover everything it has to offer.
Overall, Moss is a masterpiece of gaming and will be my go-to when introducing my friends to what VR can offer. Aside from a few instances of finicky platforming and a story that feels too short, I thoroughly enjoyed and loved my time with Moss. I sincerely hope it is successful enough for Polyarc to make a sequel, because I want more experiences like this in VR.
The Bottom Line
Moss is an outstanding achievement for VR and further proves what makes the platform so compelling. If you own a PS VR or are looking to buy one, Moss is a perfect reason to jump in.