PushSquare - Hands On: Is Moss PlayStations VR's Next Must Have?
Vibrant adventure is shaping up
As we approach PlayStation VR's first birthday in the coming weeks, the companion device to the PlayStation 4 has had a surprising initial year on the market. With a steady stream of games already released and many more on the horizon, the future is bright for VR titles on PlayStation. One of such titles, is the indie hit Moss.
This past weekend, we were fortunate to sample the game at the Fan Expo Canada in Toronto, Ontario. After donning our headphones and VR headset, taking our first steps into this charming world immediately proved that this game is going to be something special.
The most impressive aspect of this game is its visual and audio storytelling. The title’s atmosphere is established immediately, with the demo opening by turning the pages of a large book in a deserted cathedral.
After plunging through the book into a mystical wood, we meet our hero. The game tells the story of a small mouse named Quill donning a cloak and sword, tasked with exploring a gigantic world filled with even larger foes. The release feels calming yet adventurous, and is a joy to look at in terms of lighting and presentation.
This is especially true in a virtual reality environment, with a world specifically built around the platform – the immersion is top notch. In one level, while navigating Quill through a maze-like structure, leaning our head forward and looking around the structure prompted a strong sense of realism. It felt as if we were navigating a small toy through a large doll house – a unique experience indeed.
Music is limited and immersive, only utilized in particular engagements. Rather, Moss relies more on sound effects of the surrounding environments to establish atmosphere, such as wind breezes, rustling leaves, and crumbling stones.
Gameplay takes place in two different aspects. Firstly, is the mouse himself. With movement controlled using the analogue stick of the DualShock 4 and jumping and attacks mapped to the face buttons, controls are standard for titles of this style. What sets Moss apart is the mouse’s spirit companion. Using the motion tracking of the DualShock 4, you point and grasp onto objects using the analogue triggers and perform motion controls to solve simple puzzles. For example, moving a statue in an L shape involved reaching out, grabbing the statue using the triggers, and moving our hands forward and across our body to put it into position. Despite the hesitation towards motion controls in games nowadays, Moss’ controls are fluid, responsive, and perfectly fit this style of game.
As an action adventure game, the foray features a simple combat system, with a few enemies to conquer during our demo. Also present throughout are puzzles. Many involve exploring the various chambers and combining combat and interactive elements to proceed onwards.
One room in particular involved navigating Quill through a multi-story maze in the centre of a room. Two pressure plates were located in the opposite corners of the chamber and controlled the passageways available in the maze. Navigating Quill as well as using the spirit guide to possess and control an enemy to find the correct order of operations to reach the exit provided a thought-provoking experience that, once again, was designed exquisitely around the VR environment.
Moss is one of our favourite VR experiences thus far and developer PolyArc Games has a stellar game on its hands. We highly recommend any PlayStation VR owner to keep this game on their radar when it launches this Winter. You won’t regret it.