Review: Moss (PSVR)

Review: Moss (PSVR)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
  • PS VR Aim Controller None
Title: Moss
Format: PSN (12.69 GB)
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Polyarc
Developer: Polyarc
Original MSRP: $29.99 (US), £24.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 564 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
Now that developers have become more comfortable with VR they’re starting to branch out in unexpected ways. At first glance, a puzzle-platformer might not seem like a good fit for VR, but a good story, a ton of charm, and a clever control scheme can make all the difference.

Moss oozes charm. Seriously, the main character, Quill, is one of the most adorable protagonists I’ve ever encountered in a game. Much of that charm lies in the animation but I feel that a big part also comes from the immediacy of VR.

This is the story of a mouse and her adventure to save her Uncle. You start out in a library going through an old book and before you know it, you’ve become a part of the story. You’re not just an observer here, you are integral to the game as “The Reader”. I’m not really going to get into much more of it than that since the discovery is half the fun.

During gameplay you have control over Quill as well as an orb that allows you to interact directly with the world. Each is tied to the left and right sticks respectively while the only other buttons you have are for jump and attack. It may not seem like much but it works surprisingly well.

The story unfolds chapter by chapter, sending you back to the library for a bit more of it after making your way through several areas and puzzles that put you deeper into this storybook world. Visual cues abound which make the platforming a relatively straightforward affair while also hinting at some of the hidden areas.

Let’s get down to it though, without VR Moss would simply be a decent game with charming graphics. VR really sells the experience and makes this much more engaging and enjoyable than it would have been otherwise.

The ability to stand up and lean my head into the scene, peeking behind walls, finding hidden pathways and collectibles, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done in a platformer and it completely changes the game.

The puzzles aren’t all that difficult though some are a bit time consuming. They seem to be there to give you something to do beyond basic combat rather than present a real challenge. That said, the interaction involved in many of them is actually quite fun and interesting.

The platforming itself is quite solid. Many of the times I fell to my death it felt like it was entirely my fault. I often found that if I was having any kind of trouble, standing up and taking a closer look from a different perspective made things work much better.

You may have to reset your positioning every now and then to reach things. From my initial seated position I wasn’t able to reach down and interact with parts of the environment that were closer to me which was really frustrating at first. Physically moving in the real world a bit and hitting the Options button on the DS4 helped sort that out though.

Visuals:
VR definitely helps to sell the game, but without the beautifully detailed world and characters, the experience would fall apart.

Quill is so wonderfully designed and beautifully animated that she really brings the story to life. She’ll cheer you on, try to get your attention if you lose focus, and the way she rolls up on to shorter platforms is utterly adorable.

On top of all that, she knows American Sign Language. Yup, you read that right. If you happen to know ASL and you’re paying attention, you’ll be able to understand her directly at times when she decides to sign since she doesn’t actually speak during gameplay.

This all came about when the Animation Director, Richard Lico, decided see if it would even be possible to do, so he made a a short sequence and put it up on Twitter for feedback.

The response was overwhelming with more than 10,000 retweets and 30,000 likes. That was more than enough to ensure that Quill would have another “voice” within the game. And of course, seeing an adorable mouse signing will melt even the coldest of hearts.

As for the locations, they’re are all beautifully rendered. Seeing this amazing VR world from the perspective of a mouse makes everything so much more grandiose and expansive. The neglected and crumbling mouse-sized castle walls built around a large forest are fascinating to see and they were great for firing up my imagination.

Audio:
The soundtrack was apparently done by Jason Graves, who brought us the awesome Until Dawn soundtrack among others. I say apparently because his name is listed in the credits as the composer, but, as of this writing, Moss is not listed anywhere on his official website.

The music evokes a Renaissance fair feeling and it fits right in with the setting while all the voicework is done by a single person, Morla Gorrondona. She’s reading the book to you in a way designed to evoke memories of childhood, voicing all the characters as she reads the same way a mother would to her child. It’s just one more layer of charm to add to the world.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Moss could have been built without VR and the interactivity could have remained the same. If Polyarc had decided to take this route however, it would have been a mere shell of what it is today.

VR is crucial to this experience, not because it’s actually necessary for any of the platforming, the puzzles, or the combat, but because it brings this world to life in a way that wouldn’t work otherwise.

VR succeeds in connecting the player with the game, with Quill, and with her world, making the entire experience so much more engaging than anything that’s come before it. If you have PlayStation VR, this is a game you need to play. The whole experience may be a bit on the short side, but then again, this is only the first book of Moss.

Score:
9.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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