If there's one thing that PlayStation VR desperately needs, it's a memorable and immersive adventure game. So, does Moss have what it takes to fill the void? Get ready for a pint-sized tale; story time is about to begin!
Moss begins with you flipping through a book within a strangely empty medieval building while a narrator fills you in on the world of Moss. Upon actually starting the game, you'll see that you're some sort of guardian spirit (referred to as a Reader) and that you control a little mouse named Quill. Therefore, you're essentially controlling two beings. You can make Quill run, jump, and attack as you would in almost any third-person action adventure game but you also need to assist her by hovering the DualShock 4 controller over interactive objects then holding the R2 button. Whether you're opening doors, lighting torches, or controlling enemies, it's all very easy and intuitive to do. Overall, the gameplay of Moss is simple and extremely easy to learn while also featuring a nifty mix of controlling a character and yourself as a guardian spirit at the same time.
When I first started playing Moss, the environments blew me away. It was as if I were inside the world of Trine. Then, upon controlling Quill, I was delighted to see how seamlessly animated she is. In fact, she may be one of the most intricately animated game characters of all time. Watching her pull herself up on ledges, tumble around, and excitedly run is so cute that it's hard not to smile as you play. Heck, you can even give her high-fives after accomplishing certain feats and sneak up behind her to give her a scare. It's so cute! Anyway, the audio is superb complete with gentle orchestral pieces, spot-on sound effects, and a narrator who will make you feel like a kid while your teacher reads you a story. There's nothing quite like listening to Quill's tiny feet patter on the ground while taking in the narrative.
Besides running around while fighting enemies and solving basic puzzles, one very cool feature is that you can control enemies. Doing so allows you to solve puzzles as well as pit foes against each other. Basically, you can interact with monsters as you would any object then aim the stick in order to shoot in different directions. You can also plop them down on switches to hold them down. This dynamic may add a unique layer to the gameplay but everything is still very basic. I was hoping to at least see Quill grow as I progressed either through levelling up or gaining new abilities but she just stays the same from start to finish. In the end, this lack of progression combines with the simplistic gameplay to significantly limit the campaign's overall sense of satisfaction. They could have done so much more.
Easter egg: photo mode
Upon pausing the game, you can push R3 to clear the menu then freely look around and take screenshots. Cool, huh?
Speaking of unsatisfying, I was surprised to see that I completed the entire campaign within one sitting. That's right; it's only a few hours long. You can play through while trying to get all of the collectibles (forgotten fragments and relic dust) but doing so feels empty without any character progression. Even though the campaign is short, has very little challenge, and is rather linear, a few parts still managed to be quite frustrating. Keep in mind, frustrating doesn't mean difficult and vice versa. To be clear, being able to time certain things ends up feeling more random than anything. For example, when faced with a fireball-breathing monster, you have to run away from it. However, climbing a ledge takes time so perishing because the monster launches a fireball at you just when you're about to climb over feels very unfair. These moments are extremely rare but whenever they came up, I couldn't help but feel annoyed.
As the debut release from Polyarc, Moss offers a surprisingly gorgeous world filled with wonder and delight. Seeing as its gameplay suffers from being a bit too basic and easy, I'm looking forward to a sequel that'll hopefully offer a longer and more fulfilling adventure.
- + Simple gameplay that's easy to learn
- + Top-notch animation, environments, and audio set in a beautifully fantastical world
- + Being able to control enemies is cool
- - Short, unchallenging, and linear campaign
- - Very basic gameplay with no character growth or progression at all
- - A few needlessly frustrating parts