Releasing just over four years ago on PSVR, the mousey adventure of Moss remains one of the platform’s must play games. This is partly due to the unnervingly strong connection you develop with Quill, the aforementioned mouse, but also due to some creative combat and puzzles that make excellent use of both the VR headset and of tracking the DualShock 4. Moss: Book 2 takes the foundation of the original game and improves on it in just about every way.
Moss: Book 2 picks up right after the events of the previous game, with Quill finding herself on a quest to collect five magic pieces of glass so she can save the world of Moss from the Arcane army. If the game wasn’t so strong in all of its areas, the story would be its highlight. It’s genuinely remarkable how strongly you empathise with Quill throughout. She just has so much character, whether it’s her little celebrations after combat or your ability to give her adorable high fives. There are even moments where she gets very upset and due to the phenomenal animation and tiny crying sounds, I actually found myself tearing up a little. You probably shouldn’t cry into your VR headset…
If you have played the first game, you’ll know that you don’t actually play as Quill. Yes, you still control her actions through the world, but your character in the game is known as the Reader, a colossal figure from another world that Quill can interact with thanks to the piece of glass she has in her possession. As a Reader, you can not only interact with Quill, but the environment as well by pulling boxes around to make paths, knocking stalactites off the ceiling to make platforms, or even grabbing enemies.
Said enemies can be moved onto a button to keep a door open for you, simply held in place whilst you then attack using Quill, or even manipulated to attack other enemies. There’s a good selection of enemies this time around, allowing for some creative fights that honestly had me smiling from ear to ear. The bosses are similarly well designed, each of them towering over your little mouse and she runs around to avoid their telegraphed attacks.
Not to sound like a broken record, but the puzzles? They’re well designed too! Often puzzles in a game like this can be a bit frustrating, expecting you to make a leap of logic that you just weren’t anticipating and leaving you at a loss for an extended period of time. In Moss: Book 2, they’re just challenging enough. There’s various moments where you’ll stop, look around, and just go “eh?” But this moment never outstays its welcome, as the solution is usually staring you in the face, you just haven’t looked at it properly yet – or from the right angle. The levels are laid out around you and some details can be hidden behind things, requiring you to physically move around to get a better look into the nooks and crevices of the environment.
Everything looks and sounds great as well. As you loom over the level, it’s like you’re looking at incredibly elaborate dioramas. You can move your head all the way in for a close up look without it getting blurry, showcasing the detail that Polyarc has rendered in their game. There’s tonnes of effort put into the backgrounds as well, whether animals passing by or just the rest of the world stretching off into the distance, it adds a sense of scale to the game and really makes the levels feel like they’re part of a larger environment.
This is doubly true when you, for example, startle a rabbit on your way past and it runs off, or when an upcoming boss grabs a weapon off a wall that, right up until that moment, you just though was set dressing. Animation really stands out, giving everything a real character and charm, especially Quill who, as mentioned, is impossible not to find incredibly endearing. Quill actually uses ASL to communicate, which is an incredible little touch that further emphasises the excellent animation. There is a narrator as well, who is very good and even does voices for the separate characters.
It’s not quite perfect, though. One niggling bug meant I couldn’t collect a collectable I found, while another had Quill start celebrating before the final enemy in an area was dealt with – I’m sure these minor issues will be patched in short order. There’s also the usual awkwardness of PSVR’s limitations, though you can’t really hold that against the game itself. The camera view wiggles slightly as the headset’s tracking jitters, though it’s only really noticeable during the narrated book reading cutscenes, and the DualShock 4 is similarly wiggly at times. Speaking of which, you will still need a DualShock 4 to play, as Move is not supported – PSVR 2 cannot come soon enough.
Moss: Book 2 is also a rather short experience. I finished in two sitings across around five hours of play. Normally I’d say at least it doesn’t outstay its welcome, but you unlock a bunch of stuff quite close to the game’s end and it would have been great to get to play with these elements a bit more.
I also feel that, while the narrator is very good, I don’t really like the book sections too much. It drains some of the immersion from the game to pull me back out of the world and have me sit there for a few minutes staring at pictures, especially since the moments in these sections would have a much stronger impact if I was watching the characters actually act them out. While the changes the environment goes through are cool, I’d prefer if all the story was told entirely within the world of Moss. There are plenty of in-Moss cutscenes and they’re excellent.