Moss: Book 2 Review
In 2022, Moss: Book 2 marked the return of a diminutive but mighty hero – Quill. She is the one of the best characters created for a VR Game. Game developer and publisher, Polyarc, really crafted not only a wonderful character but also a beautiful world and narrative to go with her. You can read our previous reviews of Moss Book 1 and Moss: Book 2 on the PSVR1 for more details.
With the arrival of PSVR 2, Polyarc upgraded both Moss Book 1 & 2 for the platform. Because of the different technologies between PSVR 1 & 2, PSVR 1 games are not backwards compatible. So it is up to the game developers to decide whether to upgrade their games and what the cost to the consumer should be.
PSVR 1 game developers have taken several tacks on the upgrade path. Some have made the path free, others have charged a nominal fee, and others are treating their game as a new product. Polyarc has chosen the latter route. For Moss Book 2 on the PSVR, such an approach is understandable as the PSVR 1 was at the end of its life cycle and the player base was tiny. Polyarc has a bundle discount if you purchase both games together.
As to Moss Book 2, it had big shoes to fill. The original game is a classic. In Book 2, the world of our heroine mouse, Quill, is in great peril. The Arcane Army threatens to destroy all that Quill holds dear. So, once again, she sets out a dangerous, Mordor like journey to vanquish her enemies.
The narrative and game design of imparting it to the player is one of the strong points of the game. Ployarc imparts the tale through a hardcover tome graced with beautiful filigreed borders. Like any reader, you control the flow of the story by using your controllers to turn the pages which have the accompanying page turning sounds.
Each page contains animated illustrations that are a step above most illustrated stories looking like paintings. The pages are wonderfully narrated by actor, Morla Gorrondona. Her voice adds a wonderful bedtime story vibe to the game. Not only does she act as the narrator but also voices all the characters. Gaming fans will recognize her as the voices of the Hive, the Hunter, and Hire lore expert Eris Morn from the Destiny games.
Quill and Reader Tagteam
From the pages of the book, you enter the world of Quill as the omniscient Reader. From your point of view, you see each stage of Quill’s journey as a highly detailed diorama. This locked view allowed Polyarc to create beautifully realized game levels. They comprise two main types, outdoor woodsy areas or interior sections of medieval castle and catacombs.
Besides controlling Quill, as the Reader, you are not a passive observer. You can and must interact with the environments to help Quill navigate them. Coupled with the narrative, this dual role for the player strengthens the emotional with Quill.
Moss: Book 2 inherits the gameplaying mechanics of the first installment and expands on them. Quill’s offensive and defensive capabilities are expanded upon. She has new attacks and wields more weapons. One of the more impressive new weapons is a large hammer. Defensively, Quill can not only dodge attacks but now she can dash. The dash ability does double duty as a traversal mechanism, too. Using the dash, she can traverse gaps not normally crossable for her.
The Reader has new abilities, too. Beyond moving blocks and dealing out health to Quill, you not only incapacitate enemies but now turn them on each other. The Reader can also grow vines that can become bridges or provide purchase for Quill to climb walls.
PSVR 2 Enhancements
We need all these new skills as the puzzles are more complex. The puzzle type and variety is expanded in Moss: Book 2, which provides a more challenging yet satisfying play experience. Polyarc has deftly navigated the line between making puzzles challenging yet not too difficult. The puzzles are so deft that even when you backtrack; it’s a reward instead of a chore because you unlocked a new ability that allows you to reach a previously unreachable area.
The PSVR 1 version of the game was hobbled by long load times and controller issues due to tracking. With, the PS5 and PSVR 2 load times are no longer an issue. Loading and scene transitions are instantaneous. Tracking is also vastly improved with the PSVR 2 Sense Controllers. Plus, you get two hands in game now instead of one which feels more natural. The old saying – two hands are better than one – is definitely true here.
The use of haptics in the controllers is masterfully done. You’ll feel the attacks of enemies and the clunk of large puzzle pieces as they fall into place. You will also feel magical portals when they open or close, not only in the controllers, but the headset too. There is an especially nice bit of feedback when you high five Quill. All this increases the immersion.
Graphically, the game looks stunning. The PSVR 2 version runs at 90FPS with 4K textures. Since there is no reprojection, the game looks crystal clear. The OLED HDR display really makes the colors pop. The animations for Quill are extensive. She really looks real! Also, of special note, is the lighting used in the game. It creates bright highlights and deep black shadows.Moss: Book 2 also makes use of eye tracking. When you look at interactive objects, they are highlighted. Quill will catch this and respond with helpful gestures, miming what to do next. It’s these subtle little things that go together to deepen the gaming experience. And in this game, your bond with Quill.
Definitive PSVR 2 Version
It’s pretty impressive what Polyarc has done with Moss: Book 2 on the PSVR 2. The number of new features they could incorporate into a game designed before the haptics and eye-tracking were available is very encouraging. I can’t wait to see how new games take further advantage of the new PSVR 2 tech.
The PSVR 2 version of Moss: Book 2 is, once again, the definitive version of the game. If Polyarc makes a third Moss game, I cannot wait to see what they come up with. If you’ve never played Moss or Moss: Book 2, then you won’t regret picking up either game for the PSVR 2.
***PSVR 2 code provided by the publisher for review***
Wonderful character and narrator
Excellent levels and puzzles
Some may find puzzle balance too easy