MOSS, PSVR Review
— Richard Armitt (@KoruCottage) March 2, 2018
There’s no point beating around the bush, Moss should be a PSVR system seller.
On the face of it the game could be discarded as a simplified platformer about a cute mouse – on the face of it. But and this really is a big but, slipping on the PSVR Headset and finding yourself drawn into the world of Moss and its protagonist Quill makes something magical happen. You are there, in the world standing over this magical kingdom and feeling more a part of the environment than you ever have before.
Set in an interesting fantasy land where humans are scare or long gone, Quill lives and travels among the detritus of human habitation, rusty armour and swords lie forgotten, broken statues rise weathered from the sand. While woodland creatures live in tiny houses with tiny clothes and books and well, stuff. Its fairytale, but so nicely presented it becomes a short lived fairytale I want to stay in.
Belief is suspended immediately, unlike most VR titles that want to kid you into a 3D environment driving, flying or shooting stuff Moss makes the most of a static viewpoint and gives you beautifully rendered levels to stick your head around. The game pitches your presence as a mystical observer that can manipulate the environment and assist Quill on her, yes, her (hooray for diversity etc) quest. This option also make for no nausea and makes for prolonged sessions, because heat and humidity not withstanding the urge to keep playing maintains the VR grip on your attention and three hours later you wonder what time it is and why you are so thirsty.
These levels are combinations of puzzle solving and mini combat arenas, none of them are overly taxing, which gives you plenty of opportunity to admire the dioramas on display. From leafy magical forests to stoney mines and forgotten ruins there is plenty of effort to appreciate. The crafting of the levels some with interconnecting paths and tunnels or staircases hidden out of sight its often worth standing up and peering around obstacles, more often than not picking up a hidden collectible in the process. One favourite moment was working my way through a level to realise a stag was towering over us, pondering the insignificant Quill leaping below.
Controls are simple with the Dualshock, triggers to grab and interact with the environment, the left stick to control Quill along with a jump and attack button. As the game progresses some automaton enemies appear and each need a different strategy, mostly achieved by grabbing and some an extra flick with the right stick. Simple at first, but soon ramps up when you are running Quill around and trying to stun or grab enemies at the same time.
Playing with Quill is a joy, getting up close so she can reach out to your ghostly face, a face that you do get to see occasionally in reflections or wall murals. Her animation is wonderful and there is something delightfully tactile about giving her a quick rub with the controller.
Something that is interesting though is the transition from playing the game to watching the game, yes the resolution never looks great outside the VR unit that’s a given, but the thing that I find interesting is the lurching head movements. When you play the game you don’t feel like you are moving your head wildly, smooth movements and minor head corrections are the order of the day, but watch back some capture or watch another player and they are all over the place – rendering being on the outside of Moss a much poorer viewing experience.
To sum it up, apart from a technical question, Moss is many wonderful things. If you have a PSVR you need to play this exceptional game, and I will stress again exceptional in a way that draws you into a magical world – its not a world shattering GTA6.
Quill is a joy, the controls hit the mark apart from the odd tracking issue for the controller light bar, the sound and graphics keep you deep in the realm. I love it, I will replay it and I want so many more games like Moss to grace the platform. With the current run of PSVR big hitters, Moss is for me the top of the pile.
Sometimes, the more simple a game the better the result.