Available On: PlayStation 4 (PSVR)
Developer: Polyarc Games
Publisher: Polyarc Games
Genre: Action-Adventure, Puzzle, VR
Official Site: Moss
Release Date: February 27th, 2018
Where to Buy: Local Retailers, PlayStation Store ($29.99)
Do you love an underdog story? Did you favor The Tale of Despereaux or the Redwall series as a kid? Or are you just looking for an actual game to test the boundaries of virtual reality? If you said yes to any of the above questions, Moss is definitely for you! With a loveable main character, challenging puzzles, and a new take on what we know of VR, this is truly a remarkable adventure.
Moss was built from the ground up for virtual reality, and it is incredibly obvious. Our storybook tale focuses on the adventures of Quill, a small mouse with tons of heart and courage, who is accompanied by her Reader — you! After finding a mysterious relic from her people’s past, you and Quill must work together to save her uncle and rid the land of a devious serpent. As the game progresses, you really do create a bond between yourself and Quill that drives the whole experience home.
This bond is heightened by Polyarc’s attention to the smallest of details. Quill connects and communicates with you through sign language, gestures, and small noises. Her motions of “Thank You” after being healed or reaching up for a high five after a rough battle are small things, but they enhance your protective feelings of Quill. And this connection is crucial to the feel of the game as a whole.
Upon beginning Moss, I was concerned about having to control myself and Quill, but after mere seconds of gameplay, my concerns were forgotten. The fluidity of controlling both characters at the same time provides an immersive experience unlike anything else. This aspect amplifies the challenge of battles as you’re forced to keep track of Quill’s attacks and your responsibilities as her Reader. Combined, it creates a fun, challenging dynamic that will leave you raring for the next fight.
While the small battles throughout Moss are one of its bright spots, its puzzles are even brighter. Various platforming, switches, and large obstacles in the world roll together to produce experimental puzzles. Some of them definitely require a bit of trial and error, but they were never so difficult that I was annoyed. The puzzles and the gameplay never took away from the overarching story of Quill’s adventure, and that is exactly how it should be.
Aside from challenging gameplay, adorable characters, and a fantastical narrative, Moss’ artistic direction, visually and audibly, is purely magical. When the game first opens up, I probably spent about five minutes just taking in the bright forest scene. I marveled as I glanced down and saw the reflection of the Reader in the pond below me, and I jumped as a large crow flew overhead. The storybook art style translates well to the virtual reality, and the scenes are only enhanced by Moss’ soundtrack. Together, the music and the sound design work perfectly at amplifying the environment.
Most importantly, Moss is heartfelt and genuine. This game will leave you feeling a broad range of emotions before its four hours of gameplay comes to an end. You’ll laugh with glee; you’ll have to adjust your headset to wipe tears from your eyes; you’ll cheer along with Quill from your numerous victories. It is definitely a roller coaster, but it is a ride well worth taking. And, saddest of all, you’ll hate to see it come to an end. However, the team behind Moss has already promised that there will be more to come! So, fret not fellow adventurers; this is not the last time we will travel alongside our courageous Quill.
As I was playing through, I was waiting for the gimmick of virtual reality to wear off, and I was terrified that Moss would lose its shine when it did. However, luckily, start to finish, Moss is a pure joy. It’s immersive and heartwarming and bright. But, ultimately, it is just a good time. There is so much to enjoy in this small masterpiece, and I can’t wait to see what else Polyarc has in store for the series. So, wipe the cobwebs from your VR headset, give yourself a few hours, and settle into the wonderfully mystical experience that is Moss!
Verdict: Moss truly is something special. From gameplay to art, sound design to the narrative, Polyarc’s attention to the small details is really spectacular. The VR aspects intertwine with actual gameplay in a way I couldn’t have imagined, and it works beautifully. As something easily experienced in one sitting, Moss is the perfect reason to wipe the dust from your VR headset. It’s fun and emotional, charming and spooky; just like any good fairy tale should be!