In Moss: Book 2, you continue the adventures of an intrepid mouse named Quill, who hopes to save her fantasy world from the malicious Arcane once and for all. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to play Moss before the sequel’s release, but as a newcomer to the series, the game still succeeds. Despite its dull and repetitive combat, the game makes up for it in waves of mystifying storytelling, clever puzzles, and gorgeous scenery.
A stirring tale
The plot summary of the first game that’s included in Moss: Book 2 tries its best to keep you up to speed, but without the emotional impact, the storyline in the sequel has a slightly more muted effect on you. I would wholeheartedly recommend playing the first game before venturing into Moss: Book 2. From what I can tell, the sequel delivers an emotional punch as Quill experiences wins and losses throughout her adventure.
Nevertheless, what’s here is an adorable, yet stirring tale. At one point, a character is so stricken with grief that they fall to the ground in sheer sadness. In scenes like that, the cutscenes and the animation of each character draw you in as you’re closer to the drama in VR. They look up at you, and you immediately get a connection that few other games realize. In some instances, characters ask for a high five or ignore you as they facepalm after every death. It adds so much whimsy and wonder to the experience as the personalities react to your actions.
The narrator’s performance is fantastic too. Morla Gorrondona conjures up alternate voices and tones that match the characters of Moss: Book 2. It’s as if you’re listening to a high-quality audiobook on Scribd or Audible, where the voice actor has to place themself into each and every presence in the book. She’s a one-woman band and gets top marks for her work in the game.
The striking music by Jason Graves should also be praised. The themes of each world and character all have an air of magic to them. The use of its woodwind and string instruments create a mystifying vibe to each story moment, battle, and environment to an illustrious effect.
The puzzles are the highlight
Polyarc, in addition, should gain top marks for its level design. Each weapon that Quill collects can be used for both combat and puzzle situations. When you’re exploring a level, you can shift from place to place with your sword’s alternate ability or throw a boomerang to turn on a troublingly situated switch. The puzzles aren’t incredibly challenging, but each one will give you a satisfying a-ha moment. Moss: Book 2 almost always impresses with its puzzle designs, and you’ll keep playing the game for this reason alone.
It’s also neat how Polyarc uses VR technology to make you interact with the world. You’ll need to grab items in the world to assist Quill on her journey. For example, if you push one pipe, another one will pull out, allowing the mouse to platform her way up to a higher level. It’s responsive and truly immerses you into the experience. The interactions between you and Quill build out a connection that strengthens throughout your adventure.
Unfortunately, the combat feels tacked on and too simple to be engaging. The same beetle enemies keep popping up. Because you only have a basic combo and a dodge, there isn’t enough variety to keep you entertained in the combat. It feels like a chore. There are some special abilities to each weapon like the warp from the sword, but they’re not that exciting to pull off. Battling will feel like a drag more often than not; the puzzles are the main attraction here. The combat even takes away from the puzzles at some points as it’s difficult to focus on two aspects of the game at once, especially in VR. While I’m not expecting anything as in-depth as the Devil May Cry or Kingdom Hearts series, I was hoping for a little more nuance to the action.
However, the bosses of Moss: Book 2 were a stand-out aspect of the game. I don’t want to spoil too much, but they blend both the puzzle and combat aspects perfectly. You need to think about their patterns and use what you’ve learned throughout each level to succeed. They come very rarely, but when you’re in a clash for survival, Polyarc succeeds at making them entertaining.
A stunning fantasy world
What also gave me a rush during my playthrough of Moss: Book 2 is how beautiful and detailed the game is. The backdrops look absolutely gorgeous, especially when you see a castle or other major building towering over Quill. The sense of scale is incredible as you play through the game with a small mouse, and it plays very well with gigantic bosses that cause a dominating presence. The detailed environments help showcase the mood the story calls for with a great sense of pathetic fallacy.
Playing Moss: Book 2 with PlayStation VR is like peering into a theatrical show. You have the set, the characters, and a beautiful backdrop. Looking left to right is a natural feeling as you try to find each collectible scroll hidden around the corner. Being so close to the game’s environments and characters is very engaging and makes the game a must-buy for any VR enthusiast.
If you haven’t tried a virtual reality experience yet, the Moss series of games is a great first step into the evolving medium. If you’re an enthusiast already, you’ll love VR even more. Moss: Book 2 evolves the gaming format even further with stellar puzzles, a wonderful fantasy-themed world, and emotional storytelling from its writing and its incredible animations. If you haven’t already played these games and you have a PlayStation VR headset, you need to check them out.
9 / 10
|+||Compelling puzzle design|
|+||A gorgeous fantasy world to explore|
|+||A strong emotional attachment to Quill and the cast of characters|
|+||Excellent voice acting by Morla Gorrondona|
|–||The combat is repetitive|