A fairytale-like adventure gets a sequel, and it looks great and has its own style of gameplay.
A few years ago, a platformer, a virtual reality game to be exact, called Moss burst onto the scene with graphics and style oozing with personality. While entertaining, I wasn't expecting it to get a sequel, but here we are. Moss: Book II is now out, and I've been on another adventure with a brave mouse called Quill.
After rescuing her uncle from the grips of Arcane, Quill soon realises that she is being hunted. The forces of evil want Quill's magic glass, so that with it they could rule the kingdom of Moss. Quill has an idea on how to drive evil away for good. But in order to do that, she needs help from the player.
Moss: Book II continues where the previous game ended. The player is once again a spirit of sorts that helps Quill in her adventure. The fairytale-like story takes us through several dangers and puzzles in the colourful kingdom of Moss. The story is also followed in the pages of a book, which are narrated. While the atmosphere is strong here, since this section is so extensive, it does get a bit tedious, and interrupts the flow of the game.
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Moss: Book II uses PlayStation's DualShock controller in a good way. The analog stick moves Quill, and using buttons make her hit and jump, which also acts as a dodge. Spirit commands are activated using the triggers, and movement is controlled by moving the DualShock controller. The idea is that the VR camera sees the DualShock's front light bar, and this means that Moss: Book II does not work with PlayStation 5's DualSense controller, because it lacks that front light bar.
Both of the game's characters are needed in combat as well as puzzles, and the game does a good job in using the two in a balanced manner. Actions are limited to a few buttons, and this makes combat easy to learn. Puzzles are mostly about moving blocks around or activating objects, so it works well with just a few buttons.
In Moss: Book II the camera angle sees you looking down on a variety of changing environments. The broad perspective makes sure that the player is able to see all the graphical details, and the developers have clearly put extra effort into the graphics. Levels also have all kinds of details in them, and the same goes for character models as well, who then move in a life-like way. Light and particle effects create that extra layer of atmosphere. Level design itself is good as well, and sometimes Quill is farther away, and sometimes just right next to a player. This makes the world feel much more alive than what I have been used to seeing in VR games. Unfortunately, this comes with a price, since loading times are way too long, especially since it's just a black screen. Otherwise, the game runs smoothly on my PlayStation 5.
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Sound design has had its share of improvements. Different levels have their own sound effects, like water dripping in a cave, or wind blowing in an open area. Quill walks with a cute flapping sound, and hisses aggressively while in combat. Machine-like bug enemies make mechanical noises, and they look the part as well. All of this creates and strong fairy-tale like feeling for the game. The icing on the cake is the orchestral music, which reacts to whatever is happening on screen.
Moss: Book II is a good sequel, and I wasn't expecting that. It takes what worked in the first game, and builds on top of it by making the graphics even better. This way the player wants to just stop and look around all the time. Events of the game are more varied, followed by funny puzzles and energetic action. Slower story sections while reading a book do slow things down a bit too much, but even these sections are done with a passion. Moss: Book II is a good reason to dive into a VR adventure.
8 / 10
Audiovisual experience is great, as is the level design, unique game mechanics.
No support for PS5's DualSense controller, long black loading screens, reading sections interrupt the flow of the game.