The Playstation VR has gotten a lot more love recently with releases like The Inpatient, Bravo Team, and its latest launch, Moss. While some of these releases have been better than others, Moss stands ears and tails above all of them. It’s been a while since I’ve been so engrossed in a platformer, let alone one played on such a unique platform. Polyarc has designed such a beautiful world that anyone with a PSVR owes it to themselves to jump into this world.
Moss benefits greatly from the way the story is told. It’s whimsical characters and gorgeous setting all present a unique way for players to interact with Sony’s virtual reality system which is why the world was such a joy to navigate and explore. Moss’s story is told like old storybooks, and players will even interact with a book to turn pages and continue the narrative. There are no living cutscenes, instead most of the story is read to us from a narrator which is complemented by images displayed in the book.
The plot of Moss isn’t overly complicated, Quill (our little mouse protagonist) is tasked with rescuing her uncle from an evil force that looms over her kingdom. However, the story being told through the narrator and story book help it shine in a way I wasn’t expecting. The lack of twists and direct story-telling wasn’t heavy handed, and I never wanted to stop playing. If it wasn’t for the weight of the PSVR headset getting occasionally uncomfortable, I probably wouldn’t have.
Even before launch, I thought Moss looked absolutely adorable. Actually diving into this gorgeous world was a whole other story. It wasn’t just Quill’s cute design, the beautiful world, or the fact that this tiny mouse was exploring a big world, but her mannerisms and the design choices made by developer Polyarc highlighted all of these things. The little spin Quill does while scrambling up a ledge, or even moving my face to be next to Quill’s brought an extra sense of engagement to our character and interactivity to the world I wasn’t expecting.
Moss is laid out in a way that reminded me of the older side scrolling beat ‘em ups. As Quill completes an area, she moves into a new section of the world, defeats enemies, solves puzzles, and then continues into a new area. Even after I’ve navigated to a new area, I can still see the previous sections, which helped bring a sense of continuity to Moss even if each area doesn’t interact with the previous ones. Hidden in a lot of these areas are hidden scrolls, Moss’s collectibles. Some are well hidden, while others are in plain sight. Moss is unique in this way because in order to find some of these scrolls, players must physically move their head around to look under objects or look down on an area that normally is seen from the side. This is the first time I’ve seen this used in a VR game, and it was one of the coolest features I’ve seen that utilized the VR to its full potential.
None of the puzzles are all that difficult. I never felt like I was really stretching to try to solve a puzzle. There were a few puzzles that were on the difficult side, but Moss did such a good job of easing me into them with its near perfect pacing that I never was overly frustrated. If anything, I would’ve liked a more dramatic difficulty spike just so I could spend more time in Quill’s world.
The last unique thing that Moss manages to pull off is that players are basically controlling two characters. The first is Quill, who can be navigated and engage in combat with the face buttons and joysticks. The second is a watcher who can interact with the environment to help her solve puzzles. This silent character isn’t the star of the show, but the two working in tandem almost tell another story of cooperation.
The biggest letdown really is just how short Moss really is. After finishing the 3-4 hour campaign there really isn’t much to do other than finding more of the Stardust and scrolls collectibles. Is a short game really the worst thing though? I’m much more likely to dive back into a shorter title than one that takes me 40+ hours to get through.
Moss instantly grabbed my attention with its level of cuteness, but I found a reason to stay with its incredible storytelling and beautiful world. Deer grazing in the background and becoming interested in Quill’s actions showcase the level of detail and polish Polyarc put into this whimsical world. Is Moss a reason to buy a Playstation VR? Probably not, but anyone that owns one should easily find a reason to justify the $29.99 price tag.
Moss is available now for Playstation VR. This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher for that purpose.