When I first played Moss, I adored it. Completely. Being that it was a demo, I was also cautiously optimistic about the full game. Thankfully, there was no need to exercise caution. I’ll admit it, my Moss review is going to be a bit gushy.
Moss is the first and only game I’ve played that not only benefits from VR, it requires it. Without the PSVR headset, Moss would be a capable, if unremarkable platformer.
The magic of Moss is that Polyarc puts the player inside the world. It’s not just Quill the mouse who’s on an adventure. The player’s right there with her every step of the way.
The beauty of Moss is apparent immediately. Reading a dusty old tome in an empty room, narrated by a soothing female voice, playing Moss transports you back to childhood.
At least it did for me.
I remembered being 12 or 13 years old and spending every free minute reading Redwall and every book in that series I could find. I wished those stories could be true.
Wished that mice and other creatures went on grand adventures and did battle with the forces of evil.
I also loved The Animals of Farthing Wood.
Maybe not quite as complex as Redwall or Moss, but still a wonderful story told from the perspective of heroic animals. As is Moss.
Our hero in Moss, may not be a ready-made hero, but she’s certainly plucky and tough enough to get the job done. She’s the latest in a long line of animal heroes that really pull at the heartstrings.
Step into her world
Nostalgic beauty isn’t the only great quality you’ll find in Moss. The visuals are something to behold too. Truly, Moss is a breathtaking game to be a part of.
Once you have the PSVR headset in place and you experience the world of Moss from both your perspective and that of Quill’s, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for it.
And the details. Wow, the details. In each scene, I spent far longer than I needed to, simply gazing in awe at the environments and art design. Especially the lighting.
The lighting in Moss feels like the biggest factor in it making you feel as though you’re somewhere else. I didn’t feel like I was sitting on my couch with a VR headset on. I felt like I was in the world of Moss.
Moss’ world is teeming with life too. Just look around in each scene and you’ll see what I mean.
Rather than being an outside observer, you, the player is made to feel a part of it.
That’s the crux of it and that’s why Moss works so well. You feel as though you belong in this world and you feel some sense of duty to help Quill and protect the world.
Casting the player as the giant Reader immediately bonds them to Quill. While not totally defenceless, the player feels a strong desire to protect and look after Quill.
Empathy is one of Moss key mechanics.
Enjoy the fairy tale
At its most basic, Moss is a puzzle platformer. Players use the DualShock to guide Quill, fight enemies and solve puzzles. The difference lies in the implementation of VR.
As the Reader, you’re able to interact with objects in the world and assist Quill. You’re also able to heal Quill and take temporary control of enemies.
This power is the crux of many of Moss’ puzzles. Let me tell you when you’re trying to control Quill and direct an enemy by moving the DualShock in 3D space, it gets pretty complex.
Thankfully, it’s nothing too taxing. I only ever found myself stuck for a moment or two either due to not knowing the solution to a puzzle or not being able to pull of the correct sequence of movements.
With some perseverance, nothing in Moss stood in my way for too long. Not that I’d want it to.
I wanted to help Quill on her adventure and I wanted to see what would happen next.
Happily Ever After?
It’s not that the narrative in Mossis particularly original or engaging. It’s just that while playing I became invested. Invested in the world, in Quill’s wellbeing and in being a part of the adventure.
That’s Moss’ greatest accomplishment. Immersion and engagement.
I honestly couldn’t think of a game I’ve been so invested in, so quickly.
Unfortunately, it’s rather short. At only five-hours long, Moss may not seem like value for money, but I’d argue it is.
And even though I feel that VR is the only way to truly appreciate Moss, I know plenty of people aren’t convinced with the technology nor do they enjoy it.
I myself tend to get motion sickness, but I’m pleased to report that I never felt it at all in Moss. However, being VR, it does tend to get a bit wonky every now and then.
I found myself recalibrating the view every so often. It never became a real problem, but it did break that ever so carefully constructed immersion.
Moss is the first and only game on VR that I’d call a must play.
It’s a truly immersive experience that really shows just what VR can do in the right hands.
Bravo to Polyarc for Moss, it’s a testament to creativity and design.
Moss was reviewed using a digital code provided to PowerUp! by PlayStation.
Game title: Moss
Utterly adorable - 9/10
Gorgeous and could only work in VR - 10/10
VR is occasionally wonky - 5/10