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During the final day of E3 I stopped by Polyarc’s small booth in the Concourse Hall. Similar to my appointment with Frontier Developments for Elite: Dangerous, the meeting was intimate, allowing me to play its upcoming VR game titled Moss while speaking directly to one of its creators. Despite having checked out several Microsoft games earlier, Moss was the highlight of my Thursday.
Moss stars a small mouse by the name of Quill as she explores a beautiful forest kingdom. Visually, the game reminds me most of Chronos, with its medieval tonality accented with beautiful green vistas. I was actually taken back by how great the game looks on PSVR given the limitations of the PS4, but what I saw was certainly playable, and impressive. Even with several months of development time left, I can say with certainty it’s one of the better-looking VR games out there.
But Moss isn’t just about graphics. My adventure began with me assuming control of Quill, a cute character that’s full of personality. Within moments we bonded, and I did everything I could to keep her from harm’s way during our short travels.
The first order of business was guiding her into the next area. Within moments I was presented with the core gameplay loops of the title: puzzles and platforming. Due to me only having access to the beginning of the game, what was demonstrated was quite simple, but even then was remarkable thanks to the interactions offered by VR, in addition to Moss‘ unique overhead camera perspective.
Like many VR games, in Moss you are able to control your visibility by moving your head around. Since this isn’t locked onto the main character, you can peer closely at objects to admire your surroundings, or investigate the environment to determine what you need to do to proceed. Doing this is organic and feels great in its implementation, reinforcing the notion that VR is able to create one-of-a-kind experiences that were previously impossible.
Expanding upon this, what makes Moss very different from other VR platformers, especially Lucky’s Tale, is that you aren’t bound to Quill in any way. Instead, you can decouple your interaction with the cute creature and take control of certain objects. These objects vary in design, and play a huge role in diversifying the experience over the multi-hour journey.
Within moments we bonded, and I did everything I could to keep her from harm’s way during our short travels.
This was put on display toward the end of the demo when I was presented with a large, round platform at the center of the level, of which I could spin to provide Quill access to various entry points. By manipulating this, I was able to guide Quill to the area’s exit. It wasn’t easy, and required me to wrap my head around the interior design of the platform, but once I figured everything out it was as if I had solved a Rubik’s Cube.
Combat was also shown off, albeit with rudimentary depth. What it may have lacked in difficulty, it more than made up for in cohesion, with smooth, polished interactions that made fighting contributive to the experience rather than a detractor.
The demo capped off by showing what I can only assume was a boss, a big snake boss. Seeing him (or her) emerge from the shadows to hiss at Quill startled me slightly, and has me anticipating what comes next in the adventure.
At this point I’ve played a lot of VR games (more than 40, in-fact), some much better than others. I am convinced that Moss is an upper echelon VR game, the type of game that doesn’t come around too often, and helps substantiate your (or your friend’s) costly investment.
Moss will release later this year exclusively for PSVR.