Moss was released in 2018 on PSVR to pretty much unanimous critical acclaim, with developer Polyarc combining the immersive elements of virtual reality with a classic action-adventure game. The player enters a library to find a book, and as they flip through the pages, they playout the first book of adventures in the little mouses’ Quill’s life. Now she is back for the second adventure in Moss: Book II.
I recently watched a developer gameplay walkthrough of a short snippet of Moss: Book II gameplay and was impressed with what I saw. Polyarc talked about significant features and improvements in the second game. After that, a handy QnA helped quell some of the burning questions everyone had about Quill and her latest adventure. But the biggest question I had going into this event was simple: could any game make me want to pick up and use my PSVR again?
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!
I’ve been pretty adamant the tech is so dated that I would never use my PSVR headset again, and my excitement level for PS VR2 is darn high for these reasons alone. But watching just a short snippet of the adorable Quill running around and seeing the player having to interact with her and the world to solve puzzles and take on enemies has me ready to suit up my PSVR for one last ride.
The story of Moss: Book II picks up right where the first game left off, but Polyarc made it clear you wouldn’t need to have played the first game to enjoy Moss: Book II. Quill is being hunted in this game by some winged creature, and although it’s easy to assume what it probably is, we didn’t see the creature. Polyarc teased several big boss battles coming for players. It sounded like they set out with a mission to build upon the massive snake battle that ended the first game and introduce more high cinematic moments like that for the second game.
A moss-covered castle exterior was where the gameplay I was shown started with Quill taking on a few easy enemies. At the same time, the player, aka The Spirit Reader, must work with Quill to traverse through the environment. This includes pulling out items in the way and connecting new paths by selecting two ends of a broken vine. Another time the player knocks out a mechanical bug and winds them up to shoot them into a half-pipe right onto a button that opens a nearby locked gate. It all looked like straight-forward puzzle solving, but an element added with the tangibility of performing all of these actions in VR always elevates the simplistic nature.
In the second area, which seemed like a dank dungeon, or a boiler room, Quill gets access to a hammer, one of a few weapons she’ll discover in the game. However, what makes it unique is that this is Moss: Book II and player interaction in the game world is essential. The player can reach in and tap Quill’s hammer and leave a shock wave effect ready to activate at the player’s touch. The hammer was shown in puzzle scenarios and a combat room where Quill had to take on enemies with hard shells that needed to be cracked with the powerful hammer strike before getting her regular hits in for the knockout.
The two areas I got to see featured starkly different art directions and gave off entirely different feelings. While the lush green courtyard with a castle looming in the background and plenty of colourful flowers felt safe and similar to the first game, the second dungeon area felt mechanical and scarier for its tomb-like structure. When a giant hand reached upwards to gather a hammer at the end of the gameplay demo, I was surprised to learn it wasn’t The Balrog.
Polyarc has no announcement of Moss: Book II coming to other platforms, but they did note that playing on PS5, the game will see improvements to graphics and decreases in the games load times.
I’m surprised to say it, not for the game but tech reasons — I am genuinely excited to get my PSVR headset back on and play Moss: Book II when it launches later this month, on March 31, 2022. I thought the headset had well and truly seen its last platform exclusive worth playing come and go, but it looks like Moss: Book II will be the swan song for Sony’s first VR headset.