A beautiful VR adventure worth the wait

Moss: Book II

Moss: Book II
picture: playac

Every Friday, AV club Staff start our weekly open thread discussing game plans and recent gaming glory, but of course the real action takes place in the comments, where we invite you to answer our eternal question: What are you playing this weekend?

Three and a half years ago – Heaven, the time! — I wrote part of this column that asked a blunt question: Was I an idiot for throwing $300 at Sony’s semi-budget answer to the burgeoning virtual reality market, PSVR? It really was a standard version of the early adopter’s lament: Spending too much money on a system that promised and delivered too much… Well, it delivered some great things.

Among them was Polyarcs moss, an utterly charming fairy tale adventure released in early 2018 in which you, as a giant peering down into a series of beautiful pop-up book dioramas, help an adorable mouse named Quill battle clockwork crustaceans and an evil, uncle -Kidnapping Snake. It was, and still is, a beautiful, surprisingly moving experience, where the worst that can be said about its presence just wasn’t enough. (A common problem with VR games, which have an annoying tendency to be full-price experiences that are only slightly longer than the demo length.)

Now, Moss: Book II has finally arrived, exclusively on PSVR – that is, on a system that only exists hardly either keeping up with modern consoles or today’s VR technology. (Technically you can play moss on a PS5 connected to a PSVR—When They have an adapter for the PlayStation Camera and When They have a PlayStation 4 controller that can be tracked.) Still, I was happy to connect the various cables and charge the various controllers required to play. such was the affection that my earlier adventure with Quill—one of the most enchantingly animated heroes in the game world—would awaken in my heart.

Revisiting the vibrant wildlife of Moss again struck me as an odd facet of these games: they didn’t have to be in virtual reality at all. And yet they are both incredible selling points for the technology. The actual game of Moss: Book II is pretty simple after all: just like in the first game, you simultaneously maneuver your murine hero using the usual buttons and sticks on the controller, while also using a ball of light (which you interact with via the VR controls) to manipulate the environment in order to to help them progress. There’s nothing you can do with these latter skills that couldn’t be easily replicated on the controller’s right stick. Meanwhile, motion tracking is decent, but purely optional, and moss never uses PSVR’s head tracking for more than a few small perspective changes.

And yet there is nothing quite like peering down into these beautifully realized worlds, all distractions stripped out and magic all around. Or watch Quill scurry over an obstacle or dueel an enemy—only to offer you, her reader, a triumphant high-five for your help. Many VR experiences attempt to engage the brain in approximations of reality. but moss beats most of them by presenting a slightly artificial world and then making it as lush and beautiful as if you were actually turning the pages of an enchanted book.

I am not ready yet Book II nonetheless, although I’m intrigued, both by its visuals and its attempt to tell a slightly darker and more nuanced fairy tale than what the first game offered. The new powers and enemies are all just as charming and fun to play with as they were in the first set – especially those little guys who can make you bounce around the environment like pinball – and the gameplay continues to be engaging without being too frustrating be. (A bit too much backtracking when you’re chasing secrets, but nObody’s, etc.) It’s a slight shame that the game is currently exclusive to hardware that’s quickly fading into the distant past, but hey: at least I’m feeling a little less of a jackass for having a headset sitting around to play it to experience.

https://www.avclub.com/moss-book-ii-is-a-quiet-beautiful-testament-to-the-mo-1848761441 A beautiful VR adventure worth the wait

Andrew Schnitker

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