Moss Review - by Leon Sarambi

When the Quest Premiered back in 2019, Moss was one of the original games available upon release date. It came out to rave reviews for the time and one of the must haves for the sadly short lived console. So while it is an older game, it's still available on Steam, Oculus Store, Pico Store and Playstation VR 1 & 2.

Quill in all her cuteness at our introduction :3

Moss is a VR only Platformer Puzzle game where you control a mouse named Quill. A small adventurer mouse with big dreams of exploring outside of her village, navigates through puzzles, defends herself against giant bugs and goes on an adventure to rescue her uncle and defeat the fire breathing snake, Sarffog. However, she does not have to do this alone, as at the start of her story, she finds a shard of magical glass that reveals a “Reader”. This is where the player comes in.

She's so adorable when you pet her!)You play as a Reader, an otherworldly being that watches over Quill, assisting her with puzzles and combat. Since the game is played in the seated position, you're stuck with one perspective, but are able to lean and reach around to pick up blocks, move equipment and assist with combat by grabbing enemies. Your controllers are represented as floating orbs, and you're able to physically manipulate the environment. However, you're not just playing as the Reader, you're also Quill. Using the left analog stick, you're able to maneuver Quill throughout the environment, and pressing A & B makes her jump and swing her sword. Moving her around feels good most of the time, but we do which I will elaborate on a bit.

And yes, before you ask, you can interact with her as the Reader. You grab her backpack to heal her(but this leaves her vulnerable to attacks), give her a high five when you successfully complete one of the game’s trials, and you can even pet her! Because she only communicates through squeeks, she communicates to the player not by talking (though she does talk in the cutscenes), but by actual sign language. She's able to give hints, tell you what to do or communicate her feelings about something and all of this makes Quill a wonderful companion. Her personality and quirky nature, as well as her energetic animations, show that while she's brave, she still can be reckless and a weirdo at times.

ThBeing able to use your controllers to physically move objects to solve puzzles is pretty satisfyinge puzzles aren't that complicated to get, especially those that require you to move and manipulate objects with your hands. Most of the time you will be moving around large chunks of the environment to further Quill’s platforming. An issue though is trying to figure out what you have to maneuver. Items that can be grabbed have a light greenish/bluish hue to them and unfortunately, most of the time you're looking at gray or green backgrounds, so it's easy to miss an important puzzle element if you're not looking hard enough. I've had a few frustrating moments where I was stuck on a puzzle, only to realize I had missed a puzzle piece because it blended in with the scenery. Also, While Quill for the most part controls fine, I did have some issues with the jumping. Some of the more irritating moments would be when I would jump, but because of my perspective I thought I was going the wrong direction, quickly tried to fix it, and then realized I was fine on the original path and I fell down into water. It's also very easy to slide off the sides of platforms and sometimes Quill won't climb up to easily identified gripping areas. It very much feels like a good first attempt, because it was one of the first major VR games, it laid the groundwork for other VR platformers.

Truly the Dark Souls of the Mouse Adventure GenreCombat is a mix of familiar and VR uniqueness. When you go into combat, Quill has a basic move set of 3 hit combo and dodge by using the buttons. The enemies telegraph their attacks easily and outside of the end boss, there's only 3 types of enemies (Basic, Ranged & Explosion). As you go on your journey, you will be able to get upgrades through trials that will give you a ranged attack and extra swords. So what makes it unique in VR? You can lean over and grab enemies, freezing them to give Quill a window to attack, and in some segments, use them to solve puzzles. You also grab Quill’s sword to give her a ranged attack after charging her sword, but this can get pretty tedious as the projectiles can be hard to aim with, missing your targets for both enemies and puzzles. You can also grab Quill to restore her health if she gets hit (3 hits and she's down). This heals her fully, but leaves her vulnerable to other attacks for a few seconds so you have to know when and where to use it. However, from your perspective, you can easily miss attacks because you tilted the stick a bit too far left and miss them completely, or get attacked by a ranged attack you didn't see because you didn't look over at the right time. Would have liked an autolock mechanic when attacking.

There are collectables in the game, 31 Forgotten Fragment scrolls and 375 Relic Dust. These are for trophy achievements only, so it's not necessary to collect them. However these do make ya want to explore the environments in the game and they are pretty! You'll be exploring a small range of environments from a small village, ancient ruins, enchanted forests and desiccated castles. Now because this was originally for the Quest and it's an early VR game, the graphics aren't going to be as sharp as today’s games. The textures look like a high end PS2 game if you look close up. However, You can feel immersed in the areas because of the little details. Some areas have floating rocks and when you wave your hand over it, they vibrate the controller and they move away from your orb hands. Each area is set up like a stage, only viewable in a 180 degree view so you can look all the way to your left and right without needing to look behind you. You'll be able to maneuver your head around objects to find hidden pathways and the aforementioned collectibles.

Quill in all her cuteness at our introduction :3

The music unfortunately is your standard fare of medieval fantasy type of orchestral score. The music serves its purpose by getting you in the mood but it won't be memorable. Voice acting is a mix of cheesy and well done. All the voices are done by the narrator, pitching their voice to match the characters and she does a really nice job of making them unique for each one. The sound effects are also good with hearing Quill’s feet pitter patter across different types of ground, her squeaks when she's trying to communicate with you and the mechanical sounds of the bugs you fight all provide a wonderful ambiance that sounds excellent with headphones.

However, we come to the major negatives. I beat the game in under 4 hours. There is no New Game + option or challenge modes. Once you beat the game, that's it. The most replay value you'll get out of this game is going back to get all the collectables which only count towards achievements. Remember that this game came out in 2018, that's more than 5 years ago. It originally sold at $30 but in 2022 the price went down to $20, which is the current price. For a game that's less than 4 hours that's a bit of a stretch to recommend. I suggest waiting for sale.

GF Review Scores: 

Gameplay: 7 - The Puzzle solving aspect and interacting with Quill are the highlights, but frustrating platforming and confusing combat can really ruin the experience at times.

Graphics: 9 - The graphics won't be impressive, but they make the world believable, and look great when viewed in VR.

Sound: 8 - Music is fairly standard and not memorable, but the sound effects and narration keep the game feeling alive.

Value: 5 - For a 4 hour game and no replayability, $20 is a bit of a high price for this.

Final Score: 8 / 10

Still holds up after all these years, Quill should be known more in the fandom, but wait for it to be on sale.

Leon sarambi
About Author:
VR/AR graduate, NASA intern and Furry for almost 20 years

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