Moss was an interesting take on the VR concept. Instead of having players take control of a character and interact with the world around them, you act as a spirit that helps guide Quill on her adventure through this rather dangerous world. It was an adventure that resonated with a lot of players, with the ending opening the door for a sequel. Now that Quill has finished her first trial and Polyarc has learned from the past, does Moss: Book II improve the concept, or does it fail to improve?
Moss: Book II begins right where the previous adventure ended. Fans who played the original will immediately notice Quill’s accomplishment, but also understand the weight of her choices thus far. It’s an interesting place to start her adventure, given that newcomers won’t quite get the same impact, but it works as a concept. As things build, new foes appear that you and Quill will need to be ready for, which exceeds the scope of the original adventure.
Fans who enjoyed Quill’s place as vulnerable, but determined, will be delighted to know that is still present. This doesn’t change with the various new weapons in Moss: Book II, as many of them, have a distinct disadvantage. Take the hammer, it’s quite powerful, but using it requires players to act with the long animation in mind. That being said, most of the combat is rather straightforward. Quill will fight enemies that put up a modest challenge, often appearing in places throughout the map, forcing players to move around between slicing and smashing foes.
One of the cornerstones of the original adventure, the relationship between Quill and the player force known as The Reader, is revisited in Moss: Book II. Beyond giving her support through high-fives or similar gestures, players can enhance her power by touching her weapon. It’s a nice touch, as this is one of the few ways of actually aiding Quill, except its value varies. Not only does it require a bit of effort, the overall difficulty often doesn’t necessitate such mechanics. It’s a nice thought, just one that falls a bit flat when you’ll likely lose more trying to do it than you’d gain.
Where Moss: Book II stands out the most is how gorgeous the world is. Clearly, a lot of thought and effort went into the new settings, especially once the designs get a bit more creative, though you can feel the age of the experience. Not only is Moss: Book II a PlayStation 4 title, it tries to make the most of Sony’s soon-to-be-replaced PlayStation VR. This isn’t a complaint per se, just an unfortunate side effect of likely dated hardware. It will be interesting to see what improvements come when/if it’s announced for other VR units, though it’s unfortunate most of the graphical progress is in terms of design and scope, over detail.
While Moss: Book II features more content and much larger scope than the original, it’s not a massive departure in terms of size. Even if there are a good number of puzzles and backtracking, most of them follow similar patterns or ideas. That isn’t to say there aren’t good efforts, I particularly enjoyed the gravity mechanics, they’re just among the last puzzles you encounter that don’t last particularly long.
Some players also might be put off by how the concept and execution are often at odds with one another. Quill is an underdog and the story, situation, and enemies all reflect this fact. Yet, her enemies, be it boss or peon, are often easy to overcome thanks to slow telegraphed red circle attacks or obvious animations. That isn’t to say I didn’t die, as previously stated, Quill is vulnerable and a mistake can easily result in death, though most of these stemmed from poor tracking or camera issues. Even after a good deal of experimentation, there were some times when it just didn’t work. I would place the blameless on Moss: Book II and more PlayStation VR, though it will be something players encounter regardless.
Moss: Book II Review Verdict
Moss: Book II: Players who enjoyed the original will likely be enamored with Moss: Book II. It takes a lot of the original ideas and builds on them, be it exciting new locations, powerful foes, or additional weapons to add to Quill's journey. It's just a shame that some of the original quirks are still present in the sequel. Between a still relatively short playthrough, weak foes, and simple puzzles, it's a good experience that falls short of being great. Something that is likely to resonate with those who see VR as the future, just not those looking for an experience that sells the idea to do them. – Mark
[Editor’s Note: Moss: Book II was reviewed on PlayStation VR and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.]