March 08, 2018

Moss - Review

Debuted at E3 2017, Moss seemed to be the game for VR that would not only give inexperienced players a wonderful experience, but also translate what regular game players know, to a new medium, now that the game is here, did they succeed?

Moss tells the story of Quill, an inquisitive little mouse, who when day, whilst exploring the clearing near her village, discovers a piece of glass that is glowing. Once she picks it up, she notices you, the player, or as you are called, the reader. You are called the reader as the story is told as it would be if someone was reading from a book, the bulk of the story is told through some art displayed on the pages of a book, in between the levels. Deciding to head back to her home, which she shares with her Uncle, you are then given control and you start to lead Quill onwards, the problem is, this is where the game shines and breaks apart.

Each section of the world that you get to explore is treated like a diorama, they are small enough that you won’t get a sore neck moving around to see them all, but they are large enough to offer little secrets from time to time. As you explore the world, starting off in the little village that Quill calls home, you will find yourself manipulating the world, whilst also controlling Quill and this is done by a large blue orb that can grab onto things. The earliest instance of this is where you need to slowdown a waterwheel, in order to allow Quill time to get one it, in order to lower a bridge. The puzzle is not that complex, but due to the duel nature of the task, it does take some getting used to, the problem is this is where the game also suffers.

Controlling the blue orb is done by moving your Dualshock controller around the space in front of you and as you do it, the orb moves in the game world. The problem is, there were far to many instances where the game would not register my moving the orb, or it would, only to have it snap back to a default place. This would not be an issue if it was only environmental manipulation that you did, but there are times when you need to control an enemy and guide them to a pressure plate, only to have the tiny light they follow, snap back. At first I thought this was an issue with how I had my PSVR set up, maybe I was to close, or too far away, so I re-arranged my setup multiple times and encountered the issue a lot, it was even worse when I had to move the orb closer to my physical self, I am told those moments were quite funny for others to witness.

The times when you don’t need to try to move like someone from Cirque Du Soleil though, do result is some fun puzzles, from moving items around the world to just trying to understand some of the more sinister enemies towards the end of the game, it is fun. Combat, which does exist only comes into play a few times and sadly, that shows, not only is it basic, but what is there is repetitive, thankfully though, there are only a few times when you are actually forced to do it. Perhaps the biggest issue is that the game is short, while not a bad thing if the story is compelling, here it is not, so once you have completed it, going back and trying to collect all the little secrets is not something I felt compelled to do.

One aspect of the game that I can’t fault is the visual presentation, from the story scenes in the church, to the diorama/levels themselves, there is always something to look at and it always looks great. If you take your VR headset off, or move into a strange position, you get a bizarre viewpoint, but that is not on the game. Quill herself is full of so much charm, I was surprised, not only does she attempt to get your attention from time to time and then point to things on screen, should you leave her alone for a while, she also speaks to you through sign language. While I am not able to read almost all of ASL, I do understand a few things and while the bulk of it was lost on me, it is a touch that I never expected.

From an audial point of view, the game managed to meet the expectations I had for it, due to the small levels, I never expected any grand score to accompany the game and I was right, at least until the ending. There is no spoken dialogue in the game, all of that takes place during the games story sequences, which are narrated by one person, much like how someone does the voices of characters when reading a story to you, it was the same here.

Moss is a strange game, while it works quite well in VR, not looking at some minor control issues, it never provided me a single instance where I felt it had to be. There is nothing inherently wrong with it, but due to its short play time and small levels, it feels like it is done way to quickly and it never provided me a reason to want to go back.

Review copy provided by PlayStation

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