Moss (EU) Reviews

AuthorReview
Slam-Shot-Sam
73,478 (48,660)
Slam-Shot-Sam
TT Score for this game: 1,263
Posted on 06 March 18 at 23:39, Edited on 17 March 18 at 00:24
This review has 2 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Moss | PS VR | Review

With a star-studded team of Rockstar and Bungie alumni at the helm, as well as a pint-sized protagonist that’s cute as a button, anticipation for PlayStation VR exclusive Moss has been riding high since it was unveiled. Now that it’s out, does the storybook tale of an unlikely heroine on a grand adventure deliver? Or does it not quite measure up?

Moss begins weaving its narrative as you find yourself in a grand, yet homely, library and open the eponymous book laid out in front of you. Its lovingly animated illustrations are accompanied by a sultry, disembodied narration that fills you in on necessary exposition: Darkness has fallen over the land of Moss, bringing with it beasts that have slain the king and taken one of the kingdom’s powerful glass relics.

Transported into the book’s living pages to intervene, players join Quill as she finds a glass relic of her own. The relic’s magical properties allow the little white mouse to see and directly interact with you, a powerful spirit known as the “reader”. Existing as a separate entity to Quill means that, while you do control her, you also look down from your own perspective and are capable of reaching into the game world to interact with environments, characters and enemies in a variety of ways.

Using the DualShock 4 to work in tandem - or as “twofold” - you’ll guide Quill through a journey that takes her far away from home in order to save a loved one. The asymmetry involved in juggling two roles will test your coordination, if only slightly, as you work through platforming, puzzle solving, combat and stealth situations along the way.

Gameplay otherwise develops in familiar fashion, channelling the defining flow of a classic Zelda title. Traversal is limited by a reliance on signposted handholds, and swashbuckling combat by a sparsity of maneuvers, but Moss’ incredibly fluid controls and the ability to interject as the reader make for a satisfying experience nonetheless.

When you factor easily solved puzzles into the equation, which often revolve around clever little iterations on sequential button presses and other tropes, it becomes clear that accessibility was at the forefront of Polyarc’s overall design. In keeping things simple they open the door for all manner of players to fully experience what really lies at the heart of Moss - your relationship with Quill.

Whether she’s offering a high five to reward a job well done, performing actual sign language in an attempt to communicate, or even chastising you for wasting too much time on petting her, Quill is an incredibly sweet and personable mouse who’s pretty much impossible not to love. I’m not the soppy sort when it comes to virtual animal companions (you could fill a pet cemetery with the Tamagotchis, Fable dogs and Mass Effect fishies I’ve left in my wake), which demonstrates the care and attention poured into bringing her very literal three-dimensional character to life.

Quill’s charmingly stout stature also serves to imbue locations with a mesmerising sense of scale, absolutely dwarfing her, yet at the same time being detailed down to the smallest minutia. Each exquisitely lit area, from lush forest to marble-clad castle, ties into a cohesive whole without sight nor sound of an intrusive loading screen or menu to hamper the presentation so painstakingly built. This is a colourful world in which mice ride tamed and saddled squirrels, but it’s so beautifully grounded as to be believable.

Environmental storytelling hints at echos of human habitation within the realm of Moss, as does the mechanical nature of many enemies you encounter; whilst no definitive answers to these sorts of larger contextual questions are offered, the whimsical soundtrack compels you to linger on them in humanity’s apparent absence. The game does reach a neat conclusion on the more immediate front, however, whilst also extending the tantalising promise that there's more from this world to come.

Quill is an incredibly sweet and personable mouse who’s pretty much impossible not to love.
More Moss is definitely welcome, not least because the three to five hour runtime will probably leave you wanting. Beyond the opportunity to spend more time with Quill, trophies and collectibles are really all that might serve to draw you back in for a second playthrough.

While it lasts, Moss is a charming, magical and gentle-natured adventure which establishes a compelling setting and an absolutely adorable protagonist that’ll bring a smile to even the sourest of faces. Though its simplistic gameplay sees the experience fall short of matching the Hylian escapades that inspired its core design, the team at Polyarc have brought a winning formula to virtual reality along with bucket loads of unique character. If that isn’t a strong foundation on which to build the upcoming sequel, we don’t know what is.

Pros

+ Mouse heroine Quill is an absolute delight
+ Land of Moss is exquisitely realised
+ Fluid controls & motion tracking make the twofold mechanics a treat
+ Charmingly straightforward storybook tale with some deeper themes to explore​
+ Fixed perspective, general simplicity & gentle nature make Moss very accessible

Cons

- Could be argued combat, platforming & puzzles are a little too basic
- Short runtime & not much in the way of compelling replay value

8/10

Trophies

Other than Protector of the Realm, which entails completing the game without dying, Moss has an easy trophy set. Collectables aren't too hard to find, though you can always follow a guide to be sure, whilst combat related and miscellaneous tasks pose no real challenge. The remainder are related to progress and can't be missed.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Originally written for Pass the Controller, a digital copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review.

You can check out my Xbox One reviews over at TrueAchievements.

Thanks for reading!
Please log in to comment on this solution.