Adventure through a beautiful world with an adorable mouse that deserves to be the face of VR.
Moss is one of the most highly anticipated PlayStation VR titles ever developed. Though it is somewhat unusual for a platformer/exploration title to get such a high profile, the reaction of audiences to its unveiling at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2017 ensured that Polyarc Games’ mousey adventure would have much attention devoted to it.
Moss opens with a large hard-backed story book, a pleasant-voiced narrator speaks to you, telling you the backstory as you use the Dual Shock controller’s motion tracking to turn the pages. The world of Moss, it seems, was once peaceful until the forces of an evil serpent invaded, searching for powerful relics.
With the prologue complete, you are introduced to Quill, the small mouse protagonist of this story. The player takes the role of a tall, silent ghost-like figure addressed only as ‘The Reader’. When you manage to see your in-game avatar in reflections, it somewhat resembles No Face from Studio Ghibli film Spirited Away.
Straight away, Quill displays heaps of personality, showing her response to crows flying overhead with a believable nervousness and then greeting your ‘Reader’ persona with awe, all shown clearly despite not a single word being spoken.
You control both Quill and your Reader avatar, with Quill responding to typical platformer controls courtesy of the Dual Shock controller, while your Reader avatar takes the form of a ball of light that can move around and interact with various parts of the environment by using the dual shock motion tracking. Thusly, you can clear a path for Quill to continue on her journey. The controls are very intuitive, and even using both schema at once becomes easy with practice.
The environments are universally stunning, with obvious care and attention devoted to every area to make it look like a real place. Knowledge of RPGs or exploration titles are bound to come in handy as your search out collectables scattered through the stages.
The core of Moss remains your relationship with Quill. She will deliver hints to you using sign language and little squeaks to show you what to do next, and you can pet or interact with her directly, such as offering healing when she gets hurt. It rapidly becomes imperative to protect Quill from harm, and failing in this makes you feel awful, despite the only gameplay consequence being a re-set of the room you are in.
Quill is so adorable that you may find yourself needing to take breaks for the sole reason of squealing about how adorable she is, such as when she dives into a chest to retrieve treasure, leaving her legs wiggling in the air.
Moss is also filled with world-building, hints of a lost kingdom, stories of a terrible enemy and the potential of worse to come and a passed-down oral tradition of great heroes of the past. Moss is an absorbing world, and it is very easy to get lost within it, adventuring alongside your mousey friend.
This does lead me on to the sole disappointment with Moss – the length. Just as you are 100% invested in Quill and the world she inhabits, the title reaches an impressive climax… and then ends. Though the ending suggests that there is more to come in the future, its very difficult not to be saddened by how short it ultimately is.
Moss is a flawlessly crafted experience starring a character that absolutely deserves to be the face of modern VR. Every inch of the world shows attention to detail, and a story is woven that draws you in, making you truly invested in the world and in Quill as a person. All that can be wished for is that there was more. Get on that, Polyarc.