A Little Mouse With a Big Heart
Last year was the first year that we here at Hey Poor Player attended the Electronic Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as E3. When we first walked into the Los Angeles Convention Center, our hearts were pumping and our brows were sweaty. This is something that we’ve been dreaming of ever since reading about the first expo way back in 1995. We soaked up every second of the time we got during our trip. And by the end of it, we were bursting at the seams with exciting news and coverage of all of the upcoming games that we were able to play. Out of all the great games that we experienced throughout the event, the game that stuck out most was a PSVR title that none of us had ever even heard of. That game was Moss.
I need to go back to our first introduction to Moss to do this game justice. Unfortunately, due to LA traffic, we arrived late to our E3 meeting with Polyarc, but they assured us that video game journalists are always fashionably late. After putting our mind at ease we were handed a PSVR headset and explained what we were about to experience. I can’t reiterate what exactly was said during our meeting because I immediately fell in love with the world that Polyarc had created. It’s embarrassing to say this, but everything that was said to me while I was playing came off as a murmur.
By the end of the demo, the PSVR headset went black and I literally had goosebumps. My EIC, who had just finished demoing Moss in the next room, came bursting in the door just to catch a glimpse of my reaction to the game. He too had arms full of goosebumps. The Polyarc guys were extremely happy with our reactions, but they remained humble. Humble enough to tell us that our goosebumps were caused by the air conditioner that had just kicked on. We disagreed, but they wouldn’t have it.
After finishing the full version just a few minutes ago, I can say that my goosebumps definitely were not caused by cold air. It’s the dead of winter here in Delaware, and my heater is cranked up to 72. Moss has once again given me goosebumps. The game is that good, and I really think that any gamer who owns a PSVR should experience it.
Cover to Cover
In Moss, you as the player, take on the role of “The Reader”. The story plays out like a book that you are reading inside a large hall of a castle. During the first few pages, you’ll be introduced to a mouse named Quill, who is the main character of the story. Quill is an adventurous mouse who happens to find a mysterious glass relic while exploring the woods outside of her village. Finding this relic awakens an ancient magic that links both you, The Reader, and Quill together. A host of events unfold after this awakening, and after all is said and done, Quill must set out on an adventure to rescue her captured uncle.
Know Your Role
As the reader, you are overlooking Quill and whatever part of the land that she is trekking through. With the Dualshock controller, it is your duty to make Quill walk, jump, and swing her sword, as well as have her pull switches and levers. You’re also personally in charge of moving large objects with your god-like hand that can alter the land, making otherwise inaccessible areas to Quill reachable by a jump. These large objects are usually platforms that can either raise or lower. Some environments also contain switches that open gates or doors, but only do so if something remains on them. As you have probably guessed, it’ll be your job as The Reader get Quill from point A to point B by figuring out how to manipulate all of these switches, levers, and platforms.
Other than helping with switches and moving parts of the environment, The Reader can take control the bug-like enemies that attack Quill. Reaching out and holding them will simply freeze them in position, but by using the DS4’s motion controls, you can drag them wherever you like. As different types of enemies get introduced, more puzzle solving techniques will be at your disposal. Putting an exploding enemy near a switch will activate the switch. Enemies that can fire projectiles can do so with your guidance from far distances. Even though the solutions to Moss’s puzzles were all pretty easy to figure out, I didn’t mind because the steady drip of different enemy variety made solving them fun.
I Will Protect You
So, you might be asking yourself, “Why the goosebumps?”. The game sounds like your basic puzzle solving game, but in VR, right? Well, Quill is amazing, and the connection I felt with her is something that I’ve never felt in a video game before. We can thank the VR headset for that. She’s so small and fragile, but also so badass and courageous. Watching her get hurt tore at my soul. Thankfully you can heal her just by simply reaching out with the DS4 and touching her, but I still felt really bad whenever she took any form of damage. I love, love, love her positivity. Figuring out a puzzle is often followed by her jumping up and down and cheering for me. A few times she even lifted up her paw to me. I thought she was just waving, but she wanted me to give her a high five! I reached out as to say, “What?” And when she jumped up and slapped my hand my heart melted. I’m a 38-year-old dude, mind you!
The world of Moss is also a contributing factor to my goosebumps. Every part of the environment felt alive. The trees, the grass, even the broken pieces of equipment scattered about made me feel, well, there. Quill animates with such a fluidity that I could have sworn that she was real. The enemies animate beautifully as well. Polyarc really should be commended for what they’ve been able to pull off with PSVR here.
Pretty Much Perfect
So, what didn’t I like? Well, the game can be completed in just two hours. Sure, there are scrolls to collect, but I don’t think they really add too much to the full game. I plan on going back to find every one of them because I want to experience the story again. I had some weird headset tracking issues as well, but nothing a quick re-calibration couldn’t fix. Overall I can’t really complain about anything.
So, should you play Moss? The answer is a resounding, yes! If you own a VR headset you owe it to yourself to purchase this game. I’m begging you to not let the two hour play time deter you. This is why VR was invented. I felt like I was there, and I loved it! Every heart-warming minute of it!
Final Verdict: 5/5
Available on: PlayStation VR ; Publisher: Polyarc, Inc. ; Developer: Polyarc, Inc. ; Players: 1; Released: Feb 27th, 2018; ESRB Rating: E for Everyone ; MSRP: $29.99
This review is based on a PlayStation VR review copy of Moss given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.