Moss Preview — One Small Step for Mouse, One Giant Step For VR
Moss on PSVR is charming as hell and guaranteed to make you smile.
While E3 2017 has been the host to hundreds of new and exciting games, my first encounter with the PlayStation VR title Moss (and Quill) put me into a world that I couldn’t get enough of. I was lucky enough to get a meeting with the good folks over at Polyarc. I walked in, sat down, and immediately fell in love with the storybook-like world of Moss.
What’s so charming about Moss is the relationship between the player, known as “The Reader,” and the iconic mouse Quill. Together you and her take on enemies, solve puzzles, and traverse landscapes and you feel connected to her each step of the way. The game utilization of PlayStation VR brings the environments to life and engulfs the player’s field of view in a way that makes the player the second main character, in a way.
From the encouraging waves and smiles, to grabbing Quill with the controller and feeling her heartbeat, the two of you are are on the journey together and the game never lets you forget that. I was afraid that the Quill and the player would be too far removed and that the use of VR would only serve to augment the window through which the player views the world. Thankfully, I was wrong.
To begin, the controls for Moss are delightfully simple. There are five things for you to do: your analog stick moves Quill, the controller pushes, pulls, and grabs objects, the square button is for attacking, the circle button is to jump, and moving your head changes your perception of the level.
I began in a magical library with a green leatherbound book in front of me. The title “Moss” was on the cover and implied that this story is just one of many that the developers at Polyarc are looking to explore. Opening the cover with the motion controls felt weighted and as the pages turned, the world continued to come to life until eventually I was inside of it.
Tall grass and a forest path were laid out in front of me while a river flowed beneath. Moving the controller tousled the grass and displaced the dust mites in the air. I moved to push the water and noticed my reflection staring back at me. The Reader’s mask gave personality to the player and as soon as I acknowledged my likeness, Quill stepped into the world. I placed the controller on her and grabbed hold and felt her heartbeat in the controller. Her life and her quest was literally in my hands.
Together we moved scene-by-scene, and every time Quill walked off screen to the right, the sound of a page turning would remind me that this story is both being read and being written at the same time. We opened the door to a temple and fell into a trap; a dozen mechanized scarabs buzzed to life and attacked Quill and as my heart-rate increased, so did Quill’s. Grabbing her, you could feel her heart beating faster, but also healed her.
The next room introduced me to puzzles. A giant contraption in the center of the room required two pressure plates to be pressed: one by Quill, and the other by a scarab that The Reader can control. I lost vision of my new favorite mouse for a moment and had to tilt my head down to see where she went and after a few minutes (and a few failed attempts) I solved the puzzle. I walked into the next room and I was met with darkness: a pair of red eyes glided its way across the floor and a snake appeared before Quill, and the screen then faded to black.
Moss was able to win my heart and while I could not see or hear what was going on around me in the room, I could feel a smile spread across my face on several occasions. The simple controls paired with the simple premise come together to form a meaningful and emotional experience that is fit for the young, old, or any players inbetween. I can’t wait to get my hands on this game.
Moss comes to PSVR in Holiday 2017. If you haven’t heard of Moss, you can read our article about the game’s reveal and check back soon to hear more from an interview with CEO and Engineer at Polyarc, Tam Armstrong.