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Moss Review (PS VR) - VR Masterpiece

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VR games are often a hit or miss. They come across gimmicky and they often are plagued with bugs, difficult control schemes and lacklustre gameplay due to the health restriction on the system. I can confidently say that Moss is the best VR game I have played on PlayStation and yes, it has kicked Job Simulator off my top spot. It is hard to describe the amount delicacy found in Moss. Right from the start, the soundtrack filled my ears as a tale was told through a giant book which I could flip through at my own discretion. 

The images in the review are screenshots of in-game footage and do not represent the true VR experience

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The soundtrack gave me goosebumps as it slowly brings the tale to life. It is also narrated beautifully with the utmost care to describe the feelings and emotions that we cannot see on screen. It was like reading a visual novel and that it how Moss plays out, like a gorgeous pop-up book that you can interact with as the Reader. 

A tale of courage and innocence as Quill the mouse, the game's protagonist, stumbles across a shard of King's Glass that awakens what they know as a Reader. In the tale, the Reader, which is the player, chooses a hero to help through all the trials that await in the game. In short, Quill needs to head to the castle to save her uncle that has been captured by a fire-breathing snake called Sarffog. 

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There is not much to the story but the game is supposed to be the first book of many to come. A few characters are met and never seen again, and the plot has a couple of holes that I hope are filled in the future. What is this deadly snake and why are these robotic insects out to kill Quill? These are just a few question that will naturally come to mind when playing the game. 

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Apart from the story, Moss shines in every other aspect of the game. Quill is a tiny mouse in a big land and you as the reader control both her and objects throughout the game. Using the DualShock 4 you can control Quill as you would any other character in any other game. The analogue moves her, she can jump and attack with the X and square buttons. As the Reader, you can then also move certain objects to help her traverse the environment and even help her in battle too. 

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Moss is never too difficult which is great as it lets you focus on the beauty of the game. You sit at a distance and gaze upon the environment in front of you. You can lean forward to get a better look at things and use the VR headset to investigate every nook and cranny as if you are a god-like being supporting Quill from above. While there is a lot to explore, there is not much to find in the game in terms of secrets. 

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There are rolled-up pieces of parchments that act as collectables and objects Quill can smash to gain dust. These don't do anything other than act as collectables but it made every new area fun to look around at in order to see what you could smash open and how to get to that high ledge in order to pick up the parchment. 

I loved exploring each of these areas so much that I completed the game with 29 of the 32 secrets found as the environments are brought to life thanks to the ability to peek into them and look around. It was the best part about entering a new one and it was almost like flipping through a pop-up book and gazing into each page to take in the beauty of them all. The sound effects are also on point from the waves coming in on the beach to the animals and wind sounds in the forest.

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This is again all backed by a stunning orchestrated soundtrack that is soothing when it needs to be, and intense during fights. The environments are easy to explore too as you take control of Quill and solve puzzles, move objects around and fight the few enemies that block your path. Quill can climb up ledges, flip switches and leap quite a distance. With her abilities come the challenge of you knowing what you can move around and what you can't

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Giant green objects such as doors, rising platforms and rotating stairways can be grabbed and moved with the controller. Tracking is smooth enough to not mess anything up and rotating something or pushing a giant block into a slot so Quill can jump to it is easy enough. This all comes in the form of puzzles as you need to get Quill to the end of the area by any means necessary. These puzzles, like the overall gameplay, never overcompensate and stay easy enough to get past without wrecking your brain on solutions. In the later game, you will need to handle multitasking Quill's movement and attacks, holding enemies down or using them for pressure pads, and rotating and moving objects on the screen all at the same time. 

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Luckily the game eases you into all this and without many tutorials, I might add. Even combat is fluid and simple as Quill swings her sword at enemies to deal damage and can dodge and move around the combat field quick quickly. After a while, I was jumping around doing leap attacks from the sky, and holding ranged enemies as I used their guns to attack other enemies on screen. Again, this is all made much better thanks to you being able to really get into the area with your view by moving your head in. 

Where Moss left a lasting impression was how well it does its VR and how simplistic it is. No gimmicks, no overusing your controller and movement. Just the player sitting at a distance interacting with this magnificent world that comes to life in front of them. You could also do it all by just sitting on the couch. No motion sickness and no fancy gun controls. It is a great example of how VR can be perfected without it being an FPS. 

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Quill is also a loveable character. She grows throughout the game from a quiet mouse to a courageous heroine. It was the treasured moments that made me go "awww" like after you complete a puzzle and she squeaks at you while raising her hand waiting for a high-five. You can then lean in and tap her hand with the orb that represents the controller and she will react. 

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It was a small gesture but this loveable connection between Quill and the player was undeniable from that point onwards. The game also does a fantastic job to put emphasis on a small hero capable of doing big things and by the end of the game, I was a little teary-eyed to see her go as we now await her next journey. To think I bonded with a mouse in the space of a few hours. Some games last weeks and they still lack that connection. 

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Moss only lasts about four hours but it will last forever in my heart. To have a game play out so well and feel so great is something rare with VR. It stands as a perfect example that quality VR games are possible if you just create something simple. I hope the next chapter comes around soon because I cannot wait to see Quill again.

This review was based off a review code provided to us by SIE

Available On: PS4 (VR)  Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 27 February 2018 | RRP: R475

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"It is a great example of how VR can be perfected without it being an FPS"

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