Moss: Book II

Developer / Publisher – Polyarc Inc.
Price – US $39.99 / CAN $53.49 / EU €39.99 / UK £29.99 / AU $64.95
Release Date – March 31st, 2022
Input – DS4
Play Area –  Seated
Store – PlayStation
Reviewed on – PS5

One of VR’s most lauded titles in Moss (review here) has finally received its teased sequel after 4 very long years and starts off exactly where we left Quill, after the defeat of Sarfog.  If you aren’t familiar with Quill’s previous adventure, I suggest you go play that 1st as this takes place where Book 1 left off, once again placing you in the role of The Reader as you aid and control Quill in her quest to rid the world of Moss of its evils.

Back is the story telling that made the 1st game so unique.

Those who have played with the 1st game will be instantly familiar with the controls here as you once again use the DS4 to navigate Quill around each area; jumping & climbing while you, as a giant spiritual entity, can interact with enemies and specific objects designated by runes or their color, exactly like how the 1st game played.  Where things change up is the abilities and weapons you and your little mouse companion get to use.  It won’t take too long before you find a suit of armor to change up Quill’s appearance and unlock the 1st power which lets you restore plant back to life, allowing Quill to climb to areas previously inaccessible.  You can interact with the world a little more beyond just touching enemies as you will gain powers that allow you to create bridges and even hurt enemies, giving you more presence.   Eventually you’ll unlock the ability to make Quill dash, use a boomerang type weapon, a hammer and a few other surprises I wont spoil here that do make this game feel like more than just the next episode in this series, but a fully realized sequel.  Due to those new gameplay elements, puzzles get more complicated as you may have to chain together Quill’s powers or even work in tandem using both your abilities to deal with specific enemy types and obstacles.  Back are the Stain glass shards & dust you need to collect for those trophy hunters out there and thanks to those new abilities are puzzle designs that on more than a few occasions held me up for a bit.  There are 6 chapters to get through with the game auto-saving your progress as you enter each room and upon beating the campaign, you can revisit the previous stages to hunt down any missing collectables.  Book 2 is also larger in scale than the 1st with the campaign, for myself clocking in at over 6-hours on my first run, though I was admittedly exploring every nook and cranny in this beautiful world.

New items and abilities add more depth to the gameplay

Easily the best thing the Moss franchise has going for it is the presentation as everything looks amazing and makes all the gameplay elements even better.  Quill is fully realized with even more of her little idiosyncrasies and characteristics that immediately make her so endearing, I couldn’t help but want to protect her from the villains in her way.  Taking place in a very post apocalyptic world (so much so that it’s been overgrown) hints of humanities past pop up as Quill travels through various realms. As the world is now ruled by animals, the settings you visit, if not natural, are a blend of the past creations of man and more modern, animal sized kingdoms.  It’s a wonderful juxtaposition and considering the diorama style nature of the game, look absolutely fantastic, making this small world seem substantially larger than it is  Each area you visit is it’s own room (think old school Zelda) but many are setup so you can see the adjacent settings you’ll be coming and going to as well as massive distant objects like castles, mountains or a greenhouse that look visually stunning with next to everything, even those distant backgrounds, being fully rendered in 3D.  Even smaller effects like the magic attached to your weapons, that collectable dust, reflections in mirrors and water all make this world feel like one I wish could visit and that depth to Moss just would not work nearly as well out of the headset.

Harder enemies need bigger weapons.

Surprise, surprise, the audio design here is also flawless with the cinematic and ambient music kicking in exactly when it needs too or falling into the background, accentuating every scene you and Quill find yourselves in.  Marla Gorrondona is back as the narrator and sole voice actor and I loved her work in the first game and in here, she goes above and beyond playing even more characters in bedtime story type fashion.  I can’t stress enough how much appreciate the use of a single actor to play so many roles, and the fact she delivers them all with satisfying and believable emotion is a testament to her skills.  3D audio is also present and amazing though once again, it’s use can be subtle as the action takes place largely in front of the player, but when I noticed it, it added yet another layer of depth to this fantasy tale.

One of your new abilities allows you to build plant bridges.

If it’s not clear yet, I love Moss Book 2 as it really improves upon the 1st game in every way while still staying true the gameplay and story that made the 1st one an instant classic.  My 1st hour in Book 2 had me thinking it was little more than paint-by-numbers sequel but once the new weapons and abilities started to show up, I realized just how much more there is to this than the last game.  My 1st run took just over 6 hours and I still missed some collectibles meaning I’ll have to dive back in to collect them all extending game time a little more.  I did experience 2 separate instances where the game froze up, killing my controller while Quill waited for me to do something and those instances forced me to reload the last checkpoint, but that never lost me more than a few minutes of progress and a recent patch may have remedied these issues, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them. Also, some of the solutions I stumbled across for the puzzles in the latter half of the game seemed to be more fluke than the actual solution and while that may be by design, it still felt like I had cheated the game in some way but there were never any repercussions after those instances and the game played as normal so maybe it’s just me.  Lastly would be the simplistic combat, which has carried over from the 1st game and while new enemy types and abilities do mix up these encounters a little, the combat is still pretty samey, though thankfully, the pacing balances puzzles and encounters quite nicely so I was never really fatigued by killing more of the mini-robot hordes.  Those small problems aside, Book 2 is bigger and better than the 1st game by a significant margin, fulfilling it’s promise as a true sequel and one of the best VR games ever made.

You and Quill will have to work together like never before.

If you loved Book 1, you’ll love Book2, it’s just that simple.  With this sequel, the Moss franchise has established itself as one the best you can play in VR and a title non-VR fan should be jealous they can’t play.  It’s a beautiful game unlike any other with charming characters, an engrossing narrative and some the most endearing story telling you can get in modern gaming.  If you love VR than you owe it to yourself to play Book 2…just make sure you play Book 1first.

What would I pay?  So, this is $40 US and I guarantee some people will cry foul, but I won’t.  With a 6+ hour campaign built around an amazing world with clever puzzles and a multitude of combat and puzzle mechanics, it’s totally worth that price.  Book 2 delivers everything I wanted and more out of a sequel and I enjoyed every minute I spent in my return to the world of Moss.

Polyarc provide The VR Grid with a press copy of this game and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!

Good

  • Bigger & better in every way compared to Book 1
  • Stunningly beautiful environments
  • Fantastic storybook narration
  • New abilities & weapons make for new encounters & puzzle types
  • 6+ hour campaign
  • A few nice surprises

Bad

  • I encountered a few glitches
  • Combat can still feel samey at times
  • Some puzzle solutions feel odd, almost like I was cheating
9.5

Amazing

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