Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Moss is a fantastic tale that really is brought to life by virtual reality. Filled with wonder and charm, this action/adventure title follows Quill – a female mouse who embarks on a grand journey through a variety of memorable landscapes that makes this somewhat short title one that VR owners owe it to themselves to play.
I remember when Moss was first announced for the PlayStation 4. I was actually really bummed out, because it looked like a fantastic game. However, it was a PS4 exclusive. Thankfully after much acclaim and some time passing, Polyarc has brought their delightful VR adventure to the PC as well, and I no longer have to wonder what I might have missed.
With such a distinctive visual style on display, from the adorable Quill to the storybook aesthetic the prologue opens up with, Moss feels like a childhood fable brought to life. All of this helps to set the stage, discussing the ones serene world of Moss and how it has become corrupted due to the invasion of a dark serpent. The graphics are really impressive, with fully realized 3D worlds that twist and turn and had me fully engrossed from the moment I started up the game.
While Quill and her quirky personality are the star of the show, oozing personality almost right out of the gates, she does not embark on this endeavor alone. There is a secondary character – the Reader – that you fully embody. There is a bit of a learning curve in how to control both characters. The controls themselves make a lot of sense, relaying on both sticks to move the action along.
Moving the action along is an entertaining bit of gameplay in and of itself. The environments are very much puzzle-like in nature, requiring the presses of buttons or the pulling of levers to help Quill to continue along her way. You enter the scene from a perspective that shows you the environment, giving you time to take in Quill’s surroundings and how to best manipulate them. You need to move your head in all directions to really see everything in each stage, but this only helps to add to the immersion of it all.
For those looking to race through to the end, Moss is a bit on the shorter side. There are some odds and ends that can be collected along the way, but they are simply minor means of encouraging you to give the environment a very thorough looking-over. They do not really add anything to the story (which is admittedly a bit of a missed opportunity in my mind), but there is a nice sense of accomplishment that comes from finding some of the more cleverly hidden ones.
As good as all of the above is, and Moss is really quite good, there are a couple of smaller details holding this title back. The combat in Moss is serviceable, but somewhat boring. It is mostly mashing buttons and does not have a particularly strong strategic element to any of it. It never really evolves much either. In fact, the gameplay itself never really grows into anything more than what it is. The environments and searching them is incredibly well done, but the gameplay supporting it is actually surprisingly thin. Additionally, while the ending sets us up for a sequel, given how short Moss is, it is a little disappointing the way the otherwise wonderfully told story reaches a fantastic climax and then just… we’re done. There is the promise of more, and I hope we get it, but it was a somewhat jarring conclusion that did not satisfy the itch Moss created.
On the one hand, one could argue that Moss is a success in simply leaving me wanting for more. There is some truth to that, as this is one of the most engrossing stories I have played in VR or any other platform. The presentation is top-notch, the storytelling has charm in spades and the puzzles make excellent use of the VR technology. A little more maturation in the combat and gameplay coupled with a longer tale would have made Moss an absolute treasure, but what we have here is still one of the most endearing experiences in virtual reality to date.Score: 8.25 / 10