When I first imagined gaming in VR. I had trouble picturing anything that wasn't in first-person. As I continue to dive into the PSVR library, I find that I am enjoying third-person games quite a bit. Titles like The Lost Bear and Theseus provide third-person experiences in ways I didn't expect, and I always want more. Moss caught my eye thanks to its lovely art, an adorable protagonist, and fun looking third-person gameplay. So, did it live up to my personal hype, or is it as interesting as actual moss?
The story takes place in the world of Moss, which has just gone through an upheaval. Robotic creatures are invading, and they appear to be searching for two glass relics of power. After years of being unable to find them, one of these glass relics is discovered by a young adventurous mouse named Quill. Finding this relic binds her with a mysterious omnipresent spirit simply known as the Reader. When Quill's uncle goes missing, the two set off and try to find out what happened to him.
The general premise of Moss works well enough to keep me attached, and the idea of you literally being the Reader is a smart way to get you involved with the world. Unfortunately, Moss' story ends on a cliffhanger just as it starts to ramp up. As you reach the credits, many plot threads dangle without resolution. The game ends inviting you back for "Book 2" so hopefully that means a sequel is in the works.
Moss sets itself apart by having you control two characters at the same time. You'll play as both Quill and the Reader as they search for Quill's missing uncle. You'll control Quill by using the buttons on the controller, having her move, jump, and attack to get over and through various obstacles. The Reader takes the form of an orb that moves as you move your controller. You can then highlight objects or enemies with this orb, allowing you to move them around, manipulate enemies, or heal Quill if she gets hurt.
You'll have to use these skills to solve puzzles, and they usually lead to opening a door for Quill on the other side of the level. Quill has some simple platforming abilities that can get her around, namely her ability to jump, hang from ledges, and maneuver around them. The Reader's job is more to provide those platforms for her.
The levels were quite creative and required some thinking to get through. One scene saw me having to use the Reader's powers to force an enemy to shoot a crystal while Quill stood by on an elevator. Using these two elements, I was able to move Quill and the robot I was controlling around the level, up and down elevators until I could get Quill to the other side and out of the mine. Not overly complicated, but fun enough to keep me engaged. Working together, you'll be solving about four hours worth of levels to find Quill's uncle.
Of course, you can't just control enemies all the time, as sometimes you'll have to fight them to move on. Quill only has a basic attack and a dodge, but combat still moves surprisingly fast. Before long, I was dodging attacks and counterattacking with the best of them, and the combat is more than enough to carry my interest until the end of the game. Your ability to manipulate enemies comes in handy here, as freezing them in place lets Quill get in a few free hits. Later in the game, you can hijack ranged enemies to shoot at others, and blow up suicide bomb enemies.
While the combat can be fun, there's little variety in it. Those three enemies I mentioned above are all you'll be fighting for the entire game. There's no boss fights or unique situations that require clever use of combat. It seems like for all the puzzles put into Moss, combat didn't quite get the same attention. Sure it's fun, but I feel like this is a big waste of an opportunity.
Moss is also a lovely game that is a real joy to behold. There's some impressive technical work in play here, and I think Moss can match against many non-VR games just fine. One of the most impressive parts came from Quill herself. Her animations and expressions showcase a lot of tender love and care. From the way she uses sign language to communicate with the player, to her hilarious jumping attack that you just know she's putting maximum effort into, Quill is easily one of the most expressive characters I've seen in a video game. Also, you can give her high fives when you solve a particularly difficult or long puzzle, so I think I bonded with her more than I bonded with actual people I know.
I don't think Moss is going to be the game to sell people on new tech. However, this is a well made and super fun VR platformer. It really shows a lot of positive things about the platform. From clever puzzles to fun combat, to the lovely world, Moss easily met my expectations. The second book, whenever that comes, should really push the game from "great" into "amazing". I absolutely can't wait to see more.
Moss was reviewed on PlayStation VR using a copy provided by the developers.
Moss is a wonderful example of a VR puzzle platformer, and it combines various gameplay elements with a fantastic world to really deliver something worth playing.
- Amazing World
- Smart Puzzles
- Fun Combat
- Technically Impressive
- I Gave Quill a High Five
- Story Ends on Cliffhanger, Has Many Loose Ends
- Little Enemy Variety