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Moss: Book II

Moss: Book II

Written by Henry Yu on 3/6/2023 for PSVR2  
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The PlayStation VR2 is my first real dip into the realm of virtual reality and I’ve been blessed to be able to dive right into Moss Book II as my initial game. The first Moss was released back in 2018 for the original PlayStation VR and since then has been ported over to various other VR devices including the HTC Hive and Oculus Quest. It is a charming adventure game that has the player take on the role as a reader of a book where the main protagonist is a young mouse named Quill. The sequel, released last year in 2022, is now getting a PlayStation 5 port in celebration of the PSVR2 launch. Book II continues the adventures of Quill and the reader as she attempts to save her land from the arcane. 

Book I had the reader help Quill defeat the evil snake Sarffog to rescue her uncle, but Book II now has Quill embark on a new adventure collecting shards across the lands to save the land of Moss from the evil arcane army. It’s a well-developed fairy tale story that serves its purpose as a novel you are reading as the reader. The real stars of the narrative are of course Quill herself, and the many distinct locations you visit, including luscious gardens and icy tundra. It’s an entire world that I can find myself getting lost in, and I’d do so in a heartbeat given Quill is there to accompany me.

The developers at Polyarc have not only created a virtual reality experience that effortlessly combines combat, platforming, and puzzle solving, but also manages to tell an emotional narrative starring a charming mouse in a fairytale backdrop. For those unfamiliar with the first title, Moss is viewed from both a first person and third person point of view. You, as the reader, view the world from the lens of your VR device, but you can also control Quill from the third person perspective. The extremely cute part is that Quill is aware of you as an entity in her world, and oftentimes will dance or use sign language to communicate with you. You can even give her a high five! It’s absolutely adorable and definitely a refreshing mechanic to pull the player into the VR world. 

I had my doubts coming into VR coming from playing mostly traditional games, but the controls here are intuitive, smooth, and engaging. You move Quill with the analog sticks on the PSVR2 controller and can prompt her to jump or swing her enemy with the square and circle face buttons. Your hands are displayed as shining orbs on the screen that can then be manipulated to move objects in order to solve puzzles. That being said, the view of the in-game world is static and at a fixed camera angle, which can sometimes lead to awkward visual angles for those more used to a free flowing camera. Those who are used to static areas should have no qualms here.

Book II improves upon many of the systems introduced in the original, especially when it comes to the capabilities of our beloved furry friend. For starters, Quill can now climb, allowing more verticality to be utilized in the game. Her combat arsenal is also expanded, granting her some neat looking new weapons and abilities. By the end of it all, she’ll have hammers and shuriken boomerangs galore. Unfortunately, combat can feel a bit stale and one-note after a while due to the lack of more attack options. The game does promote you to use the variety of tools at your disposal to switch things up though. More freedom of movement is granted thanks to a dash that she can perform to scurry away from enemy attacks. 

You are also now more involved as the reader, given you can now destroy certain objects by gripping them with the PSVR2 controller. Further support can be provided for Quill in battle by interacting with the in-game environments and enemies. For example, you can trigger a mirror image of the hammer to drop down on enemies or create climbable vines for Quill to climb over. In fact, some difficult enemy encounters require careful coordination between controlling Quill and the reader at the same time. The hammer that she acquires later in the game actually forces you to lift it up in the air with your hands before it can hit enemies. That being said, the difficulty is well balanced, and I never felt like puzzles were too obtuse to solve or combat encounters too challenging to conquer.

Puzzles are always a hit or miss, as some games make it way too easy and some make it way too hard. I’m glad to say there is a perfect balance here with Moss Book II, with its puzzles being innovative and fun to solve without leaving you sweating in frustration. New mechanics are introduced and must be used as you progress, forcing you to use your weapons or environmental objects to solve certain riddles. Sometimes you’ll have to stop and think about a clever solution, but it’s always a satisfying feeling afterwards, and they are never unfair.

I believe that a VR game should be about immersion and Moss definitely knocks it out of the park in that department. From the aforementioned breaking of the third wall with Quill directly interacting with you as the reader to rich details of every environment presented in the game, Moss Book II is a fantastic example of what virtual reality can achieve. The PSVR2 version of the game isn’t life-changing, but definitely is the best way to enjoy this gem of a game, thanks to the extra visual fidelity and fresh coat of paint. The haptic feedback from the controllers and the vibration of the VR headset itself only adds more to the overall immersion of the experience.

If for whatever reason you haven’t played Moss Book II on PSVR1 or the Oculus Quest, then do yourself a favor and play it on the PSVR2 because it’s probably the best way to enjoy Quill’s journey. The 4K visuals, haptic feedback, and rumble support only add to the excellent immersion that Book II provides on its own. Polyarc continuously improves upon the systems and mechanics introduced from Book I without comprising the refreshing elements that it adds to the bag. Moss Book II is without a doubt a must play title for virtual reality fans.

Polyarc has done an outstanding job with Moss Book II and I never thought I could get so emotionally attached to an adorable mouse like Quill. An immersive world and lovable main character are only the cherries on top of what otherwise is a solid VR puzzle-action-platformer game.

Rating: 9 Excellent

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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