A new standard for VR storytelling

With a final blow of her hammer, the brave warrior lays the armored monster down in front of her and avenges countless lost lives.

Her sorrow turns to triumph, our heroine triumphantly raises a tiny paw and reaches out to you, her dearest friend.

Moss: Book II from developer Polyarc throws away the gimmick and spectacle that often defines VR games, instead use the form to bring you (literally and figuratively) closer to his adorable star. The result is a game that sometimes stumbles over its own mechanics, but more than makes up for it with a touching story that’s as fantastic and poignant as any fairy tale.

Back to the form

Quill is cute as a button, but don’t underestimate her.poly arc

Polyarc’s 2018 puzzle platformer moss makes you a character in his world, but the story isn’t about you. It’s about Quill, a brave little mouse who gives up everything to save her world from an army of robotic insects known as the Arcane. You play as the Reader, a visitor from another world visible only to a select few. As the reader, you guide Quill (whom you also control) through their adventure by manipulating the environment – but the story is always Quill’s. Although you literally control their movement, you always feel more like a partner than a commander.

Moss: Book II continues that dynamic while complicating your relationship with Quill — and the role of the readers overall. You’ll still help Quill in all the ways you’ve done before and more, but this time your bond feels deeper, more urgent, and frighteningly fragile.

The sequel builds in more interactions between Quill and the reader right from the start. The first time you see Quill on screen greeting you is magical. I think the first moss‘ Opening scene is more impactful – I distinctly remember thinking, ‘I would do anything for this mouse’ when Quill came into view – but whichever way you first meet her will stick.

You open the game by returning a lost sword to Quill, and within moments you’re making paths, grabbing enemies to delay their attacks and reaching out to heal their wounds. There is hardly an interaction in the game that does not require coordination between Quill and the reader Moss: Book II more of a full body sport than the original.

Simple pleasures

Moss: Book II has nicer, more varied levels than the original.poly arc

Although there a Puzzle platformerPuzzles are not particularly challenging Moss: Book II. If you’re hoping to be at a loss, you might be disappointed, but there’s another kind of gratification on offer. Much of the game seems designed to encourage a connection between Quill and the player. That way, when the reader swings a platform with Quill on it to take her to a distant ledge, it feels precarious and intimate handling a pet does, even though you control both parties.

In combat, this coordinated dance of hand gestures is far more exciting. While dodging enemies and swinging your sword as a quill, you’ll also sling enemies across the screen with your free hand, create paths to give them elevation, and charge up weapons for special attacks. When all the pieces come together, the partnership between Quill and the reader feels real, like sharing victory and defeat with a trusted friend.

boss fights Take combat to its most complex and exciting heights. There are only three in the game, but each one is a big test. You’ll dodge the bosses’ attacks along with their minions as Quill, while the Reader gives her counterattack opportunities. Sometimes that means throwing armored pillbugs at the boss like you are play pinball; sometimes it grounds a winged enemy to give Quill a chance to strike. Quill can’t take too many hits before he falls and heals slowly, making fights more about clever teamwork than brute force.

As the game progresses, both combat and puzzle-solving gain an extra wrinkle with new skills. First, Quill gains a dash attack with her sword, then a chakram that can stick to walls and be recalled, and finally a massive hammer to smash armored enemies. These new abilities add a lot of fun and versatility to combat (which is probably the weakest part of it moss), but have a few disadvantages.

To activate these abilities, hold attack so Quill raises her weapon, tap on them with your touch controller to charge them up, then press attack again to launch them. At first, this felt so sluggishly slow that it stopped me from even using the attacks, although it felt natural with a little practice. Even then, there were times when the game just didn’t register the second step as I reached out to charge the gun until I leaned in to change my perspective and tried again. It’s just annoying when solving puzzles, but it can be deadly in combat.

Even just switching weapons can be a drag with what appears to be one step too many. Press a button to open a radial menu, grab a weapon with the touch controller and drag it to Quill. As with charging weapons, sometimes an odd perspective prevents Quill from taking the weapon, wasting precious seconds in heated fights. Both of these awkward interactions help you connect to Quill, but their technical flaws make them frustrating.

Another issue addressed by Moss: Book II be VR game comes in platform. You’re free to move around the game’s diorama worlds at all times, but the default perspective is sideways, slightly elevated so you’re looking down at the field. It can be difficult to judge distances and angles this way, which means you’re likely to often miss jumps and jumps, and sometimes can’t even tell if a jump is possible without craning your neck for another view. In a way, it feels like the game would be a better platformer if it weren’t in VR, but that would take away from what makes it so special.

A captivating story

Moss: Book IIThe area surrounding is as beautiful as its history.poly arc

VR gives a sense of presence in a way that other platforms cannot. The difference between watching a scene and being part of it cannot be underestimated, and Moss: Book II takes full advantage of the medium. The game is full of opportunities to poke your head through archways or around corners to see the world better. It makes you feel like you’re really sharing that space as you follow Quill through windows or behind walls; even minute details like leaves falling in the background are captivating from this perspective. The final phase of the game is the shortest, but it’s the one I spent the most time in, simply walking around my room to see the stunning surroundings from all angles and not shouting “wow” to anyone .

A natural extension of Moss: Book IIThe sense of presence shows how close I felt to Quill. She’s in no way a complex character, but her tenacious (mouseless?) determination and courage made me fall in love with her.

In an interview earlier this year, Polyarc environment artist Coolie Calihan said Vice versa about Quill’s journey: “It’s not all happy. Growth sometimes brings pain. Every time you embark on an epic journey, expect ups and downs.” He wasn’t kidding.

As cheerful as Moss: Book II Often his story is punctuated by moments as heartbreaking as any I’ve seen in a video game. At several points, including the punchy ending, I really worried that crying so much would damage my headset. (It seems fine, in case you’re wondering.)

Moss: Book II is a perfect lesson in the power and limitations of VR. As a technology, VR is still clunky, but distinct storytelling potentialI’m just beginning to realize myself. In terms of gameplay, Moss: Book II doesn’t always make the best of VR, but its unique perspective lets you form a true friendship with its lovable main character. In the end, my bond with Quill was far more satisfying than any flashy game mechanic.

8/10

Moss: Book II is available for PSVR and Quest 2. Vice versa reviewed the game on Quest 2.

REVERSAL VIDEO GAME REVIEW ETHOS: Everyone Vice versa Video Game Review answers two questions: Is this game worth your time? Do you get what you pay for? We have zero tolerance for endless fetch quests, clunky mechanics, or bugs that dilute the experience. We care a lot about the design of a game, world building, character arcs and storytelling all come together. Vice versa will never strike, but we are not afraid to strike. We love magic and sci-fi alike, and as much as we love experiencing rich stories and worlds through games, we won’t ignore the real-world context in which these games are made.

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