Moss, developed by Polyarc, is due to arrive on PSVR in a couple of weeks. Having read Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe Content Produce Gillen McAllister’s thoughts on Moss, I decided to give it a go. Playing Moss on PSVR, I was surprised by what it had achieved.
I was only playing the demo mind you, but those few brief minutes I spent with the mouse Quill, inside Moss were sublime. Moss upended everything I thought a VR game could and should be.
What is Moss?
If you’re unfamiliar with Moss, as I’m ashamed to admit I was until recently, let me give you a rundown. Moss on PSVR is a 3D action platformer, played from a fixed perspective. The player is cast as a Reader, ” a towering, benevolent in-world spirit awoken by Quill at the adventure’s start.”
You can control Quill with the left stick, X to jump and Square to attack. But the Reader’s role is to guide Quill through her miniature world. The DualShock 4’s lightbar is tracked by the PlayStation camera and is represented by a glowing orb.
Moving the orb around allows you to interact with all sorts of things in Quill’s world. You can break pots, open doors, pick up objects and even temporarily control and direct enemies.
By squeezing the trigger while the orb is surrounding an enemy, you can slowly drag them in the direction you want them to go. In the demo, you use this skill to get an armoured insect to step on a pressure plate, opening the way for Quill to continue.
Moss on PSVR
With the PSVR headset on and from your fixed perspective, you’re able to view Quill’s world from a different viewpoint. But as McAllister points out;
As human-sized god bonded to this mouse you’re continually viewing this world from two perspectives. Quill’s own reshapes the usually insignificant; tree tops become looming dark clouds, a ditch becomes a hill to transverse. Ours sees the stories of the ruins around her.
In general, PSVR games come from a select few genres; shooter, racing/flying or novelty. Me personally, I can’t really handle any first-person action in VR, I get motion sickness too easily. Racing and flying are fine as are the novelty games, but they all have rather short shelf lives.
Moss on PSVR looks and feels like a game I’d want to play for hours on end. It’s simple to pick up, yet contains a surprising level of depth. The puzzles in the demo were fairly simple, yet they still felt rewarding.
The nature of controlling two beings, with two vastly different perspectives and from the point of view of both separately and simultaneously is a hugely giddy thrill.
McAllister notes that the puzzles grow more intricate and more complex the further the game progresses.
By angling the Dualshock 4 I can direct the Ticker towards ones of the room’s switches that, once activated – by loosening my grip and letting the Ticker’s nature take its course – will operate pulleys and ultimately a certain moving platform.
I’ve utilised the same trick to first expose the lever by blowing up a stone wall that hid it.
Simultaneously with the left stick, I guide Quill the other way, towards that platform.
I help her slash through some Tickers, dodge others then climb up and over ledges. At the same time I’m double-checking via my peripheral vision if triggering this lever, standing on that platform will get Quill across the abyss.
I’ll admit: I’m struggling
McAllister goes on to note that despite the puzzle proving challenging, on completion he’s filled with that warm glow of satisfaction and achievement.
The way Polyarc has leveraged the PSVR and DualShock 4 to create such a unique experience is inspiring. And not only is the gameplay exceptional, the sound and visual design are both top-notch.
If Moss can remain as engaging, charming and enjoyable for its duration, we may have the first bonafide must-play VR game of 2018 on our hands.
Moss on PSVR is launching February 27, 2018.