We really are spoiled for choice when it comes to great VR games these days, but no other game this year tugged on my heartstrings and left me never wanting to take my headset off quite like Moss. The team at Polyarc Games nailed the combination of exploratory puzzle and emotional action experiences you can really only get in a VR world. On top of this, the game is so visually compelling you can spend hours just appreciating the scenes built to accommodate the story.
Moss was the first VR game where my family wanted to sit on the couch behind me and watch as I played through the entire story, due in no small part to the impact of Quill, the fierce little mouse who communicates with sign language and who you coordinate with as the main character. My first time through the world of Moss I was on a PlayStation 4 Pro with a PlayStation VR headset, which is cool but limited in a handful of ways. To get the full experience, Polyarc has released Moss in the Steam Store and Oculus Store starting today.
I took the opportunity to play the game again on an HTC Vive Pro, and I was blown away.
Taking Moss to a whole new level
Instead of looking down at Quill and just controlling all of her actions from a third-person perspective, Moss makes you a separate character in the game with your own things to do. You move large objects to make it easier for Quill to solve puzzles and use your unique perspective to walk around the world in search of special puzzle pieces to solve a puzzle of your own. This combination of objectives and perspectives turns even simple puzzles into entertaining juggling acts, and when you are not limited by where you can move in the world, the level of immersion increases dramatically.
Moss is an emotional adventure, a thrilling puzzle, and a visually stunning spectacle.
On a PlayStation VR you can only move around in a small space in front of you, but when playing in the Vive I was able to walk right up to Quill even when she was far away in the scene to get a better feel for the puzzle. It also makes looking for the hidden scrolls throughout the game way easier when you can just walk around the map. The tremendous bump in resolution on the Vive Pro display over the PlayStation VR doesn't hurt either.
Tracking isn't the only difference between the Vive Pro and PlayStation VR, the motion controllers HTC makes are also a great deal more accurate. The tradeoff there, of course, is the HTC-made controllers don't have a pair of joysticks like Sony's DualShock 4 controllers. Instead, the controls for the game are split across the two touchpads on each controller, which work surprisingly well. The left trackpad is used to move Quill around, while the right is used for attack and jump. You do just about everything else by grabbing and pulling gestures, which you control with the triggers. Having a pair of "hands" in this game doesn't always mean you have an advantage, but in combat situations where you can heal Quill and possess an enemy at the same time, you'll be happy to have a little more flexibility that didn't exist on PlayStation VR.
Moss is a journey well worth the cost of admission
Moss coming to Steam, Oculus, and Viveport did not increase the length of the game, which means it's still possible to run through it in about three hours if you aren't stopping to look around. Fans of the game will be quick to remind anyone wary of such a short gameplay span that this game is only "Book One" in the Moss story, and there could be more to the game later.
That isn't something Polyarc is talking about right now, but what I can tell you is $30 will be well worth the cost of this journey. Moss is an emotional adventure, a thrilling puzzle, and a visually stunning spectacle wrapped into one. No matter what VR headset you have, this game is worth your time. But through the incredible lenses of the HTC Vive Pro, I fell right back in love with this experience.