by Adam Redding :: VR Action / Puzzle-Platformer
Moss is a very good video game.
Moss is a vibrant, storybook VR adventure, packed with charm and unique challenges. Its ability to draw the player in and inspire wonder from its opening moments through to its epic conclusion, is truly something special.
In Moss, you’ll play as both “The Reader” -your virtual self- and as “Quill”, a cute but deadly swords-mouse. Throughout the 3 or so hours it takes to complete the game, you’ll experience it from both the 1st & 3rd person perspectives simultaneously. As The Reader, you’ll move through the pages of the magical book that unfolds Quill’s story, and enter her world as an observer & a participant, cleverly mirroring the act of –you know– actually reading a story.
Let’s get this out of the way: Quill is straight up adorable. Her animations are incredibly fluid as she jumps, climbs & fights her way through the game’s gorgeous environments; locales which frequently steal the show with their sense of scale and presence. Accented by Moss’s serene musical cues, I repeatedly found myself just stopping to gawk at the details of a tiny, mouse-sized town Quill and I were moving through, or a miniature castle I’d suddenly found myself sitting in. Sections like these made me feel like a giant in a tiny world, contrasted with large open forests, or the occasional look at the night’s sky, which made me once again feel small & vulnerable. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it before.
Story & Characters
The story of Moss is simple but charming. Quill must set out to rescue her Uncle, who has been kidnapped & taken to a nearby castle, presumably to become the food of a giant, fire-breathing snake that has taken over the kingdom where they live. The game is fairly light on character development & supporting characters, and instead focuses on the relationship between The Reader & Quill, a dynamic that certainly works well. Here and there she’ll acknowledge your presence with a wave or salute as she traverses the world with your help. Small touches like this, and the fact that you’ll reach out via motion controls to grab ahold of Quill & heal her when she takes damage, really go a long way toward forming a bond with her.
Making your way through Moss’s world is always a pleasure. Sometimes it consists of more straightforward platforming, and other times it comes in the form of traversal puzzles. You’ll reach out with motion controls to lower platforms or rotate objects to allow Quill to navigate through, creating a nice teamwork dynamic. The combat itself is relatively easy, except for maybe one or two nerve-wracking sections toward the end. The challenge really comes from some very “pat your head & rub your belly” type moments, where you’ll need to use motion controls & shoulder buttons to interact with the environment or freeze & take control of certain enemies, while also using the analog stick & buttons to control Quill’s running, jumping, slashing & dodging. That -in itself- can kind of break your brain.
For the completionists out there, the game offers some collectible scrolls to hunt down, which combine to form an homage to one of Moss’s coolest moments, which I will not spoil. Many of these scrolls require some clever leaning & peaking around corners to find, or even standing up to reveal their hiding spots, which helps you to look extra cool in your VR goggles.
In a word, Moss is delightful. In a few more words, it is also fun, beautiful and charming to its core. This game is considered “Book I” and I’m already 100% onboard for “Book II”. Polyarc Games shows the promise of what VR can be in an innovative developer’s hands, and I can’t wait to see where they take the series next.
“4.5 out of 5 Burritos”