Moss is a VR game that utilizes what the technology has to offer and enhances the genre to create an amazing adventure.
VR is still a technology that can be a hard sell for many gamers. Enter Moss, a simple looking platformer from Polyarc. Believe it or not, I think Moss could be the title that sells many people on VR. Moss is a masterly crafted VR game built from the ground up to take advantage of just what the technology has to offer. Even with its simplistic approach, Moss manages to be one of the most engaging VR experiences I have ever played. When I first heard Moss was only playable in VR I was kind of confused. Then I put the PSVR headset on and l immediately understood why. Explaining VR has always been the hardest part of selling VR.
Moss is no different in that regard. Looking at footage does Moss no justice. But Moss is the first time I have played a platformer and truly felt like VR enhanced the platforming experience. As the player, you are looking down almost from an isometric view of the world. The player takes control of Quill. An adorable little mouse that has been tasked with saving her town and uncle after a fire-breathing snake has taken over. Quill is actually aware of the player and sees them as the Narrator. Quill even looks to the Narrator for guidance. Helping the bond between the player and central character take form. As the Narrator, you must guide Quill through the world, solve puzzles and help her fight her way to saving her uncle.
Moss feels special because it truly feels like it was built for VR. Unlike many VR implemented features simply for the sake of adding VR.
This perspective might seem odd if you’re watching a video or simply looking at someone playing it. Like with all VR, Moss truly comes alive when you put the PSVR on and understand how things like depth and platforming can be enhanced and perfected in VR. Like any game, Moss is special because its core design is based on VR. Nothing feels shoehorned in or feels like it doesn’t belong or thrown in for the sake of adding VR. Elements such as seeing behind corners and judging the height and length of jumps and obstacles seemed fine in the past. But since the player has the ability to move around in Moss as basically the camera, it allows the capability of “physically” moving the perspective into better locations to be able to see the best path. Once you discover this ability everything sort of clicks.
Judging things like jumping in Moss feels better than other games due to VR.
In typical platforming scenarios, you can judge everything based on shadows and muscle memory of how a character reacts in the space that’s been created. In Moss, you can physically move around and remove the limits of not being able to judge how high or how deep something is. If there’s a jump or obstacle in your way, you can in real time move to get a better advantage. It sounds simple and the concept is, but the implementation Moss is perfect.
Moss is also wonderfully crafted when it comes other design choices such as characters and world. Even with the simplistic story design and characters, the world of Moss is one where you want to spend time with. You want Quill to succeed and the phenomenal animation aids in the player feeling connected with Quill. When she is scared he ears will cower and she will shake with fear. When Quill is confident she moves with poise and swiftness that looks and feels amazing. The world layouts are varied and offer distinct differences from place to place. But the diversity in puzzles is enough to keep you guessing as well.
The grabbing mechanic with the Dualshock 4 was the only time in Moss I felt a small sense of frustration. It could be due to some of the PSVR’s limitations in the VR space.
The only design choice I found annoying in Moss was the grabbing mechanic. The Dualshock controls a blip on the screen that can be used to pull and push certain objects. This relies on the light built into the Dualshock 4. The problem I had was the tracking isn’t spot on. Which can create some frustrating moments. Anytime I had to move the Dualshock 4 in a downward motion it just never seemed smooth. As compared to literally any other direction. I suspect this might be due to the layout of my home or possibly even the tracking technology. PSVR relies on light and not something like room scale technology from other VR options. But I found it out that it worked in every other direction. The good news is that I very rarely found myself having to perform that motion so the frustration was kept to a bare minimum.
Clearly, I enjoyed my time with Moss on PSVR. Who would have thought a game based on a mouse saving he uncle would be the game that I recommend people try to understand VR. But Polyarc distinctly knew what they were making and just how much they love their world and their characters. Moss oozes with personality and you can feel the passion behind the design. When Moss ended it was the first time a VR game left me wanting more. As someone who has played many VR games, that surprised me. I urge PSVR owners to give this title a shot and hopefully, you too will experience the love and passion like I did in Moss.