E3 2017: Moss Didn’t Just Steal My Heart, But the Show

PlayStation VR has faced a number of issues since it launched. Between a high price and lack of compelling titles, it’s a hard sell, but these aren’t even the biggest problems. Currently VR is seen as something of a novelty, not unlike what we saw in cheesy ’80s films. Players assume the role of a character, look around and interact, typically via motion, with the world around them. This is fine for some games, such as Farpoint, but Moss tries to offer a different experience.

The best way to explain Moss is to think of a VR version of Tearaway. In the world of Moss you assume the role of a guardian of sorts, who comes across Quill, an adventurous and cheerful mouse, that wants to explore the world. Part of what makes such a satisfying VR experience, is also what makes it such a poor one.

Moss could, at least based off the demo, easily lose the VR and be an exciting action puzzle game. This isn’t to downplay the VR aspect, something that was actually quite enjoyable, but to illustrate that Moss is a great game that happens to feature VR, instead of a great game because of VR.

What VR adds is a sense of wonder, similar to what Quill is likely feeling. The ability to look around, interact with objects, such as plants, adds a sense of whimsy. Players can also interact with Quill herself. Not only will this heal her, the DualShock 4’s rumble mimics her heartbeat, making you feel closer to your digital companion.

The gameplay is varied and enjoyable. Sometimes you’ll need to complete platforming sections with Quill, complete with a cute climbing animation and others times she’ll need to fight. Neither were particularly difficult in the demo, making for a more relaxing than punishing experience, which is also true for the puzzles.

Puzzles seem to be solved by interacting with objects in the world and manipulating them in a way that helps Quill. These include pulling out blocks for her to jump on or moving statues to open doors. Some of the later ones involve moving enemies or rotating objects, showcasing a decent amount of variety. But the big thing is that many things require a motion controls which, when combined with VR, makes for a more personal experience.

While Quill can’t speak, Polyarc gave her a number of gestures that give you insight into what she is thinking. This means players will view her gestures differently and build their own relationship with the tiny protagonist. Be it jumping for joy or just trying to get your attention, Quill has plenty of personality.

At the end Quill runs into her first antagonist/boss, a snake. While nothing after that point is shown, though I was told there will be other threats besides the snake, it was the perfect place to end. Not just because it makes you want more, but to highlight how quickly you formed a bond with Quill.

Needless to say, Moss might be a VR game, but it uses VR to enhance the experience. By adding this to a great game, filled with small details, it’s no wonder why Moss has won so many people over. Sure, it might not be the biggest game announced at E3, but it’s easily one of the best surprises. So if you have PlayStation VR or just enjoy experiences like Tearaway, I strongly suggest keeping an eye on Moss.