Moss Review

Little-Earth

Playing Moss is like poking your head into a fairytale. Huddled over a dusty tome, the story within its pages comes to life, transporting you to an enchanting fantasy world. This is the first game from Seattle-based studio, Polyarc, adding to the strong, diverse line-up of titles now available for PlayStation VR.

In Moss you effectively play two roles in tandem: as petite protagonist named Quill and the disembodied “Reader” that watches over her. Many of the puzzles you encounter play off this relationship, with Quill navigating self-contained dioramas while you manipulate them using the DualShock 4’s motion tracking. It’s a fairly straightforward puzzle platformer, although there are a few head-scratchers and some segments requiring you to multitask.

While not as deep as your typical AAA blockbuster, Polyarc’s focus on storytelling and world-building are a real boon here. Where a lot of VR games have you tearing up object-filled sandboxes for no apparent reason, Moss takes you on a journey.

Inspired by ancient folklore and the fantasy works of pioneers such as Tolkien, Moss follows a fun yet familiar template. Quill is clearly an adventurous sort, having been raised on stories about dark powers, magic sprites, and noble knights. So, when her mentor Argus disappears into the night, she naturally goes after him.

There’s a backstory and small nuggets of lore to uncover but not so much that it weighs Moss down. One nice touch is how the game’s narrated like an actual book. A single female voice actor juggles a cast of characters while guiding you on your journey, adding to the storybook vibe.

It’s a gorgeous game to look at too. Each chapter is comprised of adjoining segments or rooms with the Reader looking down from above like some mystic giant. Although your position is fixed, there are nooks and crannies to explore by moving your head and peeking around corners.

Polyarc conjures up a rich, enchanting world brimming with heart and passion. Having a cast of tiny talking animals may seem childish to some, but it adds a degree of charm you wouldn’t get from the typical trope of humans, elves, and orcs. In Quill we also see a new mascot – not just for VR but PlayStation in general.

What’s Good:

  • Rich, immersive fantasy world
  • Controlling Quill and the Reader simultaneously
  • Fun platforming and puzzle-solving sections
  • A comfortable, accessible VR experience

What’s Bad:

  • A few more advanced mechanics wouldn’t have gone amiss

Moss is an absolute joy to play, proving that a great VR experience doesn’t always require that you flail your arms around while fending off bouts of motion sickness. It’s a wonderfully realised puzzle platformer with clever twists, beautiful backdrops, and an adorable hero, making PlayStation VR even more tempting for prospective buyers.

Score: 8/10

Version tested: PlayStation 4 Pro

Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualShock at this point.

15 Comments

  1. Looking forward to playing this asap

  2. While it does look stupidly cute, and I enjoyed the demo, is it really as short as people have been saying? 3 or 4 hours for £25 seems to be taking the piss a bit.

    • That’s about average for a PSVR game. Anyway, a two hour cinema ticket here is £12, so its the same in terms of time vs cost as going to the cinema. And certainly cheaper than 4 hours in the pub :)

      • Yes, it might be the same as going to the cinema (although last time I went, it was £15 plus the inevitable snacks, but that was fancy pretend-Imax to see Black Panther, which was possibly a bit excessive for a decidedly average film).

        But since cinema tickets are a bit expensive anyway, all you’ve done is prove that £25 for a 4 hour game is also not great value for money.

        And “average for a PSVR game” just shows that (some) of them are also a bit overpriced. I know, there’s only maybe 1/30th of the potential sales compared to a non-VR game. But a game that might be £10 to £15 being sold for £25 to £30 isn’t going to help things.

        Then again, Sony have more sales these days than your average furniture shop, so nobody will have to wait too long for it to be a sensible price.

      • Play it drunk – then it lasts at least twice as long.

        (I’m going to have to play it from the start again. I honestly don’t remember anything about it other than “ooh, it’s midnight and I can’t drive in a straight line any more, never mind Dirt Rallying in VR so let’s try this instead”. True story.)

      • VR is a niche market, therefore things are more expensive. That’s it, that’s the simple fact, publishers have a much smaller market to recoup their costs so VR games are more expensive to add a bigger profit margin vs normal games.

        If publishers didn’t do that, they wouldn’t have any chance of recouping the money spent on development, and as you can see Moss is much, much more polished than many VR games so the dev costs would have been high.

        The alternative is no VR games, simples.

        People with fancy hats have already splashed hundreds of quid on VR headsets so are prepared to pay a little more for the games, and frankly we’re getting a bit sick of everyone who doesn’t have a VR headset moaning about the price of GAMES THEY CANT PLAY AND WONT BUY.

        In short: Shush.

        LnH

        TC
        x

      • But some of us are fancily behatted and moaning about the price of a game we’d quite like to play, just not at that price.

        I get that it’s a smaller market, but that doesn’t always mean things have to cost more. They could have set the price lower and sold more.

        Even if there is a good reason why things cost more for VR, having short, expensive games really isn’t helping. Short is fine. Expensive is fine. Just not both together.

        And didn’t you complain about Skyrim VR being expensive? So shush yourself ;)

  3. It’s games like this that make me regret selling my PSVR… It’s not long to my birthday though…

  4. I got a VR for Xmas with Skyrim which made me sweat and feel crazy sick. Rigs (still unopened) and rush of blood which made me feel ill (but less so) but couldn’t play for too long for fear of a heart attack.

    Have others felt this and is it worth persevering?

    • I think most people get some degree of sickness to start with. Some more than others.

      It does go away once you get used to VR though. Stop when it gets uncomfortable, and have another go later when you’ve recovered. You should find you get used to it.

      And it also depends on the game and how you move in the game. Proper movement rather than any teleporting nonsense is a much better experience, but might give you another look at your lunch.

      Anything where you’re not moving should be better. A 3rd person static view (like watching the little mouse in Moss) should have no problems.

      And anything where you’ve got something fixed around you (like a car, or a spaceship cockpit) seems to help a lot. Driving games are very comfortable, and something like Eve Valkyrie or Starblood Arena can soon have you spinning around in all directions without any problems, because of that cockpit.

      So yeah, it happens, you should get used to it. Just keep at it and be sensible.

      • “Driving games are very comfortable”

        No they aren’t.

      • It does depend on the person, but in my experience, they’re one of the things least likely to cause any sickness.

        I’ve never had too much problem anyway. The only issue I have is if I’m standing and any sort of free movement (not teleporting) happens. That seems to really confuse the brain into thinking you should be moving but your legs definitely aren’t. Your head probably is turning a bit, because there’s a tendency to turn it to look anyway. The end result is my legs go a little bit wobbly. Feels like I’m falling forward, when I’m not, as far as I can tell.

        DO NOT, under any circumstances (apart from “just for a laugh” or “someone dared me to”) stand up while playing a driving game. Sat down, they’re fine. And possibly makes driving easier. Stand up, and you’ll be in trouble.

    • Yes I have felt that too. It really varies from person to person how bad it is but I’m definately more to teleporting than “proper moving”. It’s also more logical to feel sick as your eyes tell you that you are moving and your ears (balance) tells you that you are not – your eyes are lying.

      Im still struggling to “get it right” but some games are a much better to train yourself on than others and MrYd gives a reasonably accurate picture of how to go about it.

      My biggest issue for the moment though (I need to get in contact with Playstation support) is to get resolution to be closer to 1080P. It is too often that the image is far too grainy.

  5. What’s the difference between VR games that state ‘VR Compatible’ and those that state ‘VR Required’? Can some VR games be played without VR?

    • The ‘VR Required’ games are exactly what it says. You need VR to play them. You can’t play them without it. (Unless they then get updated later so you can, like Star Trek Bridge Crew recently did)

      If they’re ‘VR Compatible’, that just means you can play them without a headset, but if you’ve got one, you get some VR content. That could just be a disappointingly small bit, like Gran Turismo Sport that just lets you do races against a single AI opponent in VR, or the whole game, as in Resident Evil 7. (Except for the DLC where it’s not all playable in VR)

      So some VR games can be played without VR, I guess. Kind of. Later on, after an update. But mostly it’s VR games need a headset, and some non-VR games can be played with one. (Ignoring the fact that every non-VR game can be played with a headset anyway, you just get a massive screen floating in the darkness if they don’t have actual VR support)

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