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Image via Polyarc

Moss: Book 2 has an enchanting world I can’t wait to get into – Hands-off Preview

New weapons and a longer campaign makes this sequel more epic.
This article is over 2 years old and may contain outdated information

Taking a gander in a fantasy world is a dream for many, and the original Moss on PlayStation VR brought that in spades. Teaming up with a small, but brave mouse, you must triumph over evil while exploring a gorgeous world. Now that its sequel Moss: Book 2  is just around the corner, the developer Polyarc seems to be pushing that fantasy element even further.

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Lovely environments and cool puzzle elements

Image via Polyarc

Set in a stunning fantasy vista, Moss: Book 2 dives you into a magical world with you and a mouse hero called Quill; both of you determine how the story plays out.  After saving her uncle Argus, she must now save her homeland from the tyrannical rule of the Arcane before it’s too late.

With added tension and tougher threats along the way comes more powers and weapons in Moss: Book 2. First, to help Quill on her journey, you can summon vines onto walls so she can climb. You can also create a stunning bridge made out of grassy material. According to Polyarc Game Designer Doug Burton, you can use these vine pathways to navigate enemies around the space in certain puzzle scenarios. “It kind of gives you a layer of creating your own solutions to a few puzzles,” said Burton. 

Multiple weapons can be equipped by Quill to be used in both combat and puzzles, adding variety to Moss: Book 2’s longer playtime. While in combat, each weapon will have a different feel with various attack speeds, pacing, and other properties. So far, the developers showed a sword and a big hammer that the mouse can somehow pick up and utilize. Many more weapons are being kept under wraps, but Burton said you’ll “definitely [be] able to change your playstyle based on which weapon you’re using.” The developers hope you mix and match the weapon varieties on the fly for a fun combat experience.

Collectibles? Yes please.

Image via Polyarc Games

In addition, the new weapons you unlock can help you open past areas previously blocked. It’s similar to a Metroidvania-like experience. Burton claims that the game hosts several more hours of content than the first game, as it’s filled with collectibles and optional rooms to find. Furthermore, the collectibles are “slightly upgraded” from the first game, according to Burton, as they provide more interaction for the player. Illustrative scrolls you collect on your journey will be on the walls of the hub area, and you can also collect dust. We do not know what the dust can do in Moss Book 2 as the developers kept it close to the chest.  

More bosses will be added to challenge you in Moss: Book 2, following the drama and reception of the first game’s end boss. Similar to a game like 2021’s Game of the Year It Takes Two, there will be a blend of puzzle and combat within each battle’s design. Polyarc has said there will be “emotional stakes involved” with each encounter.  

An Attention To Detail

Image via Polyarc

What compliments the varied gameplay is the stunning fantasy visuals of Moss: Book 2. In this VR perspective, you are just above the small mouse’s height. This means that castles and flowers will seem larger than a typical game of this genre. When Quill passes by some grass, the blades will sway with the movement in Moss: Book 2; this wasn’t present in the first game. The menagerie of flowers in an outdoor stage also pops on-screen with a vibrancy of color. Burton also explained that you’ll be leaving trails behind in a snowy area in the game. There is a charming attention to detail in Moss: Book 2. 

One thing that worries me is the lack of fast travel. Some Metroidvania titles like Hollow Knight and Grime have a way to get from one place to another quickly, but Moss: Book 2 won’t have that. “We played around with the feature, and then we kind of decided instead, we would just make traveling through the rooms more enjoyable,” the designer said. “There’s gonna be points where once you have a new weapon or ability, now you can kind of get through a room much faster.” Burton called it “natural fast travel” as you make your way quickly across the rooms with your new abilities. Let’s hope that isn’t a regrettable decision when the game releases later this month. 

Between the player and Quill, there seems to be a lot of interaction with the environment and the characters themselves. For example, you can pull a block along, so Quill can jump on top of it. You can also pet the mouse, and more interactions with the protagonist have been added to Moss: Book 2. One of the main messages that Polyarc wanted to portray is that they want you to embrace “the joy of physical interaction” within this title. “You being the one that’s interacting with Quill, you’re the one doing the high five, you’re grabbing the brick, you’re waving a quill and all that,” said Burton. “So we really enjoy [what] that brings to the experience.”

Lastly, the sound design enraptured me. The music for the outdoor level was haunting with its pretty tones and stirring composition. Additionally, the sound effects were spot on with the grind of machinery in the background and the small, but audible footsteps of Quill’s tiny feet. 

Overall, Moss: Book 2 seems to be a stellar VR experience for PlayStation VR. With a gorgeous art style, an intriguing array of new weapons, and a mystical story ahead for Quill, it seems like it’s going to be a memorable title. I just hope the lack of fast travel won’t jeopardize the experience. Moss: Book 2 will scurry its way to PlayStation systems on March 31. The developers have expressed interest in bringing the sequel to other platforms like the Meta Quest, but that will be later down the line. The Seattle-based studio Polyarc needs a break from their adventure, after all.


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Author
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Chris Penwell
The British “Canadian” Chris Penwell has been a video game journalist since 2013 and now has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from MacEwan University. He loves to play JRPGs and games with a narrative.