Now that E3 is in full swing, we had a chance to get our hands on the newly announced third-person action-adventure game Moss, a title for PSVR from Polyarc Games that follows the adorable but fierce little sword-wielding mouse Quill.
Seated in a great library with vaulted ceilings, a closed book is placed before me on ancient-looking writing bench, the sort you’d see propping up Harry Potter’s spellbooks. Inscribed with the word ‘Moss’, I physically reached for the book’s cover with my dualshock 4 controller, using it to manipulate the cover of the antique book. I thumb through the pages, which are covered in pictures introducing the universe called ‘Moss’ and enter the game.
I’m suddenly bathed in white light and transported into a dense forest dotted with mushrooms, ferns, and the occasional lazy insect. There’s a rustle in the bush. It’s Quill, the 3-inch tall mouse, carefully checking to see if the coast is clear.
Now I’m not the type of person who gushes when confronted with a cartoon mouse (no matter how cute), but the connection I made with the little creature, who was strapped with a tiny sword reminiscent of Bilbo/Frodo’s little dagger-sized elven sword Sting, was nearly immediate. She walks up to me apprehensively, and motions for me to look down at the puddle of water below. Looking into the reflection, my face is revealed, a mask glowing an ethereal blue. My gamepad also glows in the virtual world, emitting a blue orb to tell me where it is. Quill waves at me to come along with her on the great adventure ahead.
The demo I played lasted about 15 minutes, covering around 5 puzzle-laden areas which led through the forest and to some sort of ancient fortress or temple. Each area had an interactive item that you had to physically move with your dualshock gamepad in order to progress, like a door, a box or rotating stairway.
These interactive items weren’t at first obvious, as they only shimmer with a blue light when you’re close to them. Iterations range from physically pulling out a glowing blue block so little Quill can jump up to the next level, to plucking enemies from the ground below and placing them on pressure pads to make some stairway-machine open up and turn.
Along the way I was confronted with mechanical beetles, which were about the size of Quill. Striking with the sword and destroying the beetles was accomplished through a single button press, which made combat feel like it was taking a back seat, although the developers are couching Moss as an action-adventure game and not an action-puzzle game, the difference being the amount of and level of difficulty combat expected. Either way, I didn’t have the heart to let little Quill die during my time with Moss, but I can bet I would have felt pretty bad about it.
The demo ended just as I entered the dark lair of a giant snake, who I presumably would have to battle in the full game. Going by the game’s high level of visual adeptness, the quick emotional relationship I created with Quill, and a cool interactive adventure, I’m definitely looking forward to playing more of Moss.
Polyarc is shooting for a holiday 2017 release, stating roughly 3 hours of gameplay. As a potentially expandable world, the developers told us that there may be more games from the Moss universe to come.