This harrowing tale of an unlikely hero is touching and shows just how fluid virtual reality platformers can be.
By Joshua Hawkins, Greenlit Content
I’ll come right out and say it. I’m not a big fan of platforming or side scrolling games in virtual reality. I’ve always felt like they fit better on a computer screen than they do in virtual reality. However, Moss might be the game that makes me really change my mind.
MossTold through the eyes of a small mouse named Quill, Moss follows an unlikely hero as she must face great odds and overcome many challenges to save her people from destruction. Sure, it might sound like a story that has been told a thousand times—because it has—but the developers, Polyarc, have created something special. Instead of having you merely act as a camera in the sky, the game involves you, almost breaking the fourth wall to include you in the story. You suddenly becomes the main characters’ closest companion.
This plays really well, as you’ll need to use the Vive controllers to reach into the game world and interact with things to help our little hero along her journey. It’s a great mechanic that works very well in virtual reality, which makes the platformer stand out above any of the other VR platformers that I’ve had the chance to try out to date.
Combat is also an important part of the formula in Moss. You’ll need to revive Quill by picking her up and recharging the crystal on her back. It’s a basic mechanic that really makes you feel like you are part of the story without ever acting like much of a hindrance in the process. As far as controls go, moving around can be a little janky at times, due to the movement system relying on simply touching the touchpad on the left-handed controller. But overall, the controls are smooth and very responsive, making it easy to jump, fight, and even slash your way through the beautifully detailed world that the developers have created.
Originally released for PSVR, Moss is now available for the HTC Vive and though the game remains largely unchanged, it hasn’t suffered at all during the transition to PC. It runs smooth and the visuals are excellent and crisp. It’s one of the few games in virtual reality that could really stand against any other game outside of VR—which is a very large task to take on, let alone actually succeed at.
If you want a fantastic narrative as well as a good idea of what can be done when you utilize the strengths of virtual reality, then Moss is an amazing example of everything good that can come from virtual reality platformer. It's completely changed the way I look at the VR platformer genre. I hope more developers follow suit in the future and create experiences that continue to resonate long after the end credits roll.