It was just the other day when I was talking to my mate about selling my PSVR. He asked me why. I simply said the wow factor had gone. That is until I played Moss.
You might be looking at the little mouse and the screenshots scattered below and wonder what all the fuss is about. It’s just a mouse and a 3rd person platform game. What’s the big whoop? Well, this isn’t just any old VR game. It doesn’t use first-person view points and other such trickery to shout “LOOK AT ME!”. No, Moss is a more refined game. Subtlety is its weapon. It’s fair to say Moss is one of the most immersive video games I have ever played. I’ve run from crazed shovel-wielding maniacs in Resident Evil 7. I’ve played out my Matrix dreams and dodged all the bullets in SUPERHOT. But nothing, and I mean nothing has made feel like I’m actually in a world like Moss does. It’s breathtaking, jaw-dropping and infinitely smile-inducing.
The game starts with you sitting in a library with a large hardback book in front of you. The narrator begins telling you the backstory as you flip the pages with your DualShock 4. After a short tale of good vs evil, it turns out that Moss was quite peaceful until an evil serpent invaded.
You are then introduced to Quill, one of the most charming video game characters you’re ever likely to meet, who has stumbled across a magic glass which has awakened ‘The Reader’, a tall, silent ghost-like figure who you also control. In essence, you’re controlling two different characters. Imagine sitting in a room with some of the finest dioramas you can imagine and your pet gerbil running around them. That should give you a sense of how it feels to be part of Moss.
The first thing you will notice is how utterly beautiful the world is. I mean, when I first gazed upon these miniature worlds, my jaw dropped. It’s the miniature animal kingdom that you’ve read about a thousand times in children’s books but only had illustrations to go by. Now you’re there, sitting amongst these miniature landscapes with miniature houses, market stools, castles and ruins with miniature mice riding miniature squirrels. It’s all so beautifully realised, with certain moments that will almost bring a tear to your eye it’s just so damn charming.
The only thing more charming than the word is the games hero, a little mouse who goes by the name of Quill. As soon as she appears you just want to pick her up and stroke her, and it actually feels like you can, so impressive is the VR at work here. Her animations are superb and her in-game actions, like a little dance and a thumbs up when you complete a puzzle, will make you feel like a proud parent. If something scary flies overhead, she will cower with realistic nervousness. When she dies, It’s painful to watch, it feels like you have lost a treasured pet. Everything just feels so real and that’s what makes this game stand out from most.
The game itself is a platform puzzle game. Quill is controlled by the analogue sticks on the DS4 and you (The Reader) can help out by pushing and/or pulling blocks by holding R2. In the early stages, you’re just jumping and climbing and solving the most basic of puzzles. You do start to think this is going to be a walk in the park. But the later levels feature some really complex puzzles carried out over multi-locations and feature some enemies to defeat and others that can help you solve the puzzles. Quill has a teeny tiny sword to ward of the games evils. The combat is very rudimentary with not much more than hacking and slashing button bashing but that’s really not what the game is all about.
The really amazing thing about Moss is the locations. During the first part of the game I was just slouching on the sofa as you do when playing games, but later on, when the levels get more complex you find yourself standing up, leaning over walls, peering around corners just so you can see every angle when you’re stuck with a puzzle. It’s incredible – there is no clipping and no visuals fall out of place. It’s just like peering through a dolls house. Incredibly thanks to VR head tracking, your position in the real world can have subtle little effects in the game – don’t get too close to Quill or she’ll give out a small squeal for invading her space. This is VR at its best.
The developers have been clever. They know this world is one you want to look around and so have placed hidden parchments throughout, so of course, to collect them all you will have to get up off your arse and search the level, look behind every post or wall, lean around every corner. For some reason, I can’t explain I felt more compelled to collect all these collectables than I have any other game. I think that’s a testament to the characters and the worlds that have been created.
Unreal Engine 4 is put to work in Moss with some astounding graphics, specially for a VR game. The previous games I have played in VR there is a strange feint ’mesh’ like film over the graphics. This is due to the low-resolution VR screens used in the PSVR headset. It could be that I was playing on a PS4 Pro but this mesh effect was nearly nonexistent and made this one of the best looking VR games I have played. Couple that with the brilliant animation, especially on Quill, and you have to wonder why you have to go back to normal non-VR games. How dull.
I don’t want to be picky about Moss but I guess it’s my job to do so. It’s not all perfect. The Story itself is a little mundane. It’s unoriginal and one you’ve seen a thousand times before, but you kind of get sucked into it thanks to the immersive nature of this game. It’s only four hours long though so it’s not the longest of games and will be over way too quickly leaving you wanting more. For £25 I would have liked to enjoy my time with Moss a little longer. My biggest gripe though is saved for The Reader interaction elements. On the occasions where you have to take control of blocks, there were times when my camera failed to register my DS4 movements if they were too low, namely interacting with things on the virtual floor. When this happened my cursor failed to grab what I was aiming at or would disappear altogether. It wasn’t that often but when it did It was a horrible jolt back to reality.
Regardless, Moss is spectacular, a work of art, a showcase of what VR can do without guns and explosions. It’s a showcase of the direction VR should be going in. It’s been a long time since I played a game and got so wrapped up in the world that I lost track of time. Every time I put on the VR headset and play Moss, I inevitably found myself running late for my next appointment of the day. In Quill a new hero has been born, a hero that you actually care for, one that you’ll feel protective over and one I hope to see again in many more adventures.
Simply put. if you have PSVR then you need to have this game, if you don’t have a PSVR, then this maybe is the kick you need to buy one. Amazing.
Moss is available now on PS4 for PSVR.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy from the publisher. For our full review policy please go here.