Moss Hands-On Demo Delights
Moss, revealed by Polyarc Games during Sony’s E3 2017 Media Showcase, is a PlayStation VR game that’s unique amongst its peers. Moss focuses on storytelling and puzzle solving while providing an enjoyable experience for players of any age, all of which make it one of the best VR games shown off at E3 this year. That’s not a claim made just from seeing the delightful trailer, either; I went hands-on with Moss and its instantly endearing hero, Quill, at E3 and walked away struck by the charm and intuitive gameplay on display.
You could be forgiven for thinking your character is Quill, but in fact, you’re actually playing as The Reader, a mysterious figure sitting quietly in a magical library. As I threw the PSVR onto my face, I was unsure of what I would first see and my expectations were well in check. I opened my eyes and right in front of me was a peculiar book begging to be opened. Reaching out, I slowly turned over the cover and, upon flipping the first page, was transported into the dense and vibrant forest world of Moss. It was here where I first met Quill, and I quickly began providing a helpful hand by manipulating the world around her in order to clear her path and progress the adventure. I could move Quill with the left analog stick. while attack and jump were conveniently mapped to the face buttons. At the same time, I could play as The Reader, using a combination of trigger pulls, and motion controls to physically grab and move large objects in an environment.
“The puzzles along the adventure were interesting and well designed, really taking advantage of the VR medium in combination with a dual shock controller.“
The opening moments of Moss made a positive first impression, and that feeling continued through to the end of my demo. The puzzles along the adventure were interesting and well designed, really taking advantage of the VR medium in combination with a dual shock controller. I reached out with one hand and rotated pillar staircases for Quill as if I had been doing it all my life. I peeked around corners and under archways to get a better perspective on the environment and I manipulated giant beetles to do my bidding, unlocking the necessary gates for Quill to progress. Every gameplay mechanic tied to The Reader felt natural and immersive and, thanks to the simple and responsive inputs, controlling Quill was a joy as well.
The game’s little details really stood out too, like hearing the book’s pages turn as we entered a new area. It was also very satisfying to lean around the environment and see the previous area to my left and the next area to my right. What’s most telling of the level of immersion I felt is that I just wanted to reach out and touch everything, even going so far as to splash around in the first pond I saw. It was during one of these fun moments of playful curiosity that I realized I could actually pet Quill. Cuteness overload!
After some light combat and a few rewarding puzzles, I guided Quill into a cavernous room. She looked nervous and I soon realized why: we were being confronted by a very large and intimidating snake. I was prepared for the worst and braced for the battle of our lives as the screen slowly faded to black, indicating the demo’s end. I reluctantly pulled off the PSVR headset, wishing I could just keep playing. I had grown very attached to the adorable Quill.
When I first started the hands-on Moss demo, I did so with a heavy dose of skepticism. That skepticism turned into happiness as I was introduced to a pleasant and comfortable VR experience. When I was forced to put down my controller and exit the small demo room, I was left feeling rather impressed with what Polyarc Games had let me play. In a VR landscape filled mostly with first-person, gun-toting action games, Moss might be the breath of fresh VR air we’ve been waiting for.