Moss delivers an adorable mixture of platforming and puzzle solving
When we imagine in our minds, what a killer-app style VR game might look like, we probably don't picture a 3rd person platformer. Especially one that has the player sitting in a chair, holding a regular gamepad. Instead, we tend to think of an immersive first person game that completely envelops us in it's world. We're standing up, with motion controllers in each hand, and we feel like we've been magically transported to another world entirely. When you're sitting in a chair, holding a controller, it's a harder sell, to feel like you're intrinsically part of what's taking place before you.
Moss transcends this. In Moss, not only do you control one of the most adorable and lovable platform heroes we've seen in years, but the player themselves is just as crucial to the overall story as anything else. Quill may be the star of the show, but you're an absolutely essential part of this performance. You have agency in this world, like almost no other VR platformer available. (Robot's Rescue from The Playroom VR is somewhat of an exception)
The human player in our real world, is known as "The Reader" in the world of Moss. The Reader chooses his hero, in this case Quill, a charming young mouse on a quest for adventure. However, the Reader is an integral part of the unfolding narrative. You'll need to physically interact with the world surrounding Quill, to help her on her very important mission. You'll need to physically move and manipulate objects and levers, while simultaneously controlling Quill and keeping her out of harm's way.
Truth be told, the game is more puzzler than platformer. As you move through this game, you're moving from one very specific area to another. Each major area contains a number of puzzles that must be solved to allow Quill to continue her journey. Usually, the puzzle will involve the Reader manipulating a glowing sphere to hi-jack control over robotic crab-like creatures. Once possessed, the Reader can position the crabs on pressure-sensitive platforms to allow certain doors to spring open. Sometimes Quill will be forced to engage in one on one combat with these enemies. As the Reader, you can also help Quill engage in this melee combat. You can temporarily grab control of the enemies, allowing Quill to get in a few quick slashes before any retaliation is possible.
The world that all of this action is taking place in, is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. It's a lavishly detailed environment that looks like an enchanting fairy tale that has sprung to life. In fact, the entire game looks like a cartoon taking place before your very eyes. Each new environmental puzzle is more captivating than the one that came before it. I keep thinking that I've seen the best this game has to offer, to only have my jaw drop once again, upon entering the next beautiful backdrop. I typically will pause for about 10 or 20 seconds, just marveling at this grand feast that Polyarc has delivered to us.
If there's a significant fly in the ointment when it comes to Moss, it's probably the games length. Clocking in somewhere between 3 and 4 hours, some might contend that the price-to-hour ratio is out of whack. Moss retails for $29.99 which would translate to about $10 per hour, or slightly less. Personally, I think these debates are somewhat ridiculous. You really have to judge these situations on a case by case basis. There are times when I absolutely agree that the price-to-hour ratio can be out of whack with certain games, but I also know there are times when this line of thinking needs to be totally disregarded. I'd say Moss is much more of the latter. I find it hard to believe that someone would spend 4 hours with this enchanting adventure and feel like they got royally screwed in the deal. The only thing to really complain about, is the fact that you had such a wonderful time and you just wish there was more of the game to play. Luckily for us, it would appear that Polyarc has a franchise superstar on their hands with Quill, and we'll see more of her adventures in the near future!