Returning to Moss book 2 storybook world after the original’s cliffhanger finale was a fantastic and long-awaited treat. Who wouldn’t want to help an adorable mouse defeat frightening adversaries and solve platforming obstacles in order to save the planet in virtual reality?
Moss Book 2 doesn’t waste any time, launching right after the previous graphically famous game‘s conclusion and expanding on much of what made the first so memorable, even if the antiquated PSVR technology it’s now bound to can’t keep up.
Moss Book 2 Gameplay
While I recommend playing Moss first (it’s only a few hours long and fantastic), Book 2 is still a warm welcome for novices. It’s told in the style of a fairy tale, and you’ll be directing both a mouse named Quill and the human-sized Reader as she flips through her story once again, this time as she’s being pursued by a winged tyrant named Tylan.
This isn’t the best plot, but it’s a follow-up that improves on other elements, such as worldbuilding. You’ll discover more about Cinder Night, the catastrophe that brought Quill’s kingdom to heel, and you’ll meet a fascinating but undeveloped array of characters who are still haunted by the disaster.
With its late-game surprises, Book 2 piqued my interest, and I found myself wanting more. Developer Polyarc appears to have heeded prior criticism, since the game does not finish on a cliffhanger this time, although there is clearly room for a sequel.
Quill’s mission is to locate the glass shards she needs to defeat Tylan, which she will do by hopping through a wrecked castle, a horticultural conservatory, icy mountains, a steel foundry, and other locations. Of course, we all know that nothing is ever that simple. You’ll be stopped regularly by Arcane minions in our way, which Quill and the Reader will have to overcome in long combat sequences.
Book 2 adds additional mechanical beetle adversaries to the previous lineup, such as an armoured shell variety that can only be split open with a special weapon. There’s also a ripper, an unlucky creature that the Reader may toss around like a pinball.
Anyone who has played the original will recognise the combat, although Polyarc has added a few additional choices in Book 2. Quill used to only have a sword, but now he has two more weapons to choose from: a hammer and a chakram. Like many heavy weapons in previous games, your hammer hits powerfully but is sluggish and clumsy.
The chakram, on the other hand, provides a rapid and light method that is better suited to dealing with weaker adversaries in big groups. Your weapon is located somewhere in the middle. Aside from armoured shells and a few late-game enemies, fighting seldom necessitates the usage of a certain weapon, which gives a welcome versatility that will fit a variety of combat styles.
New weaponry give you more options in terms of how you fight.
Polyarc included weapon abilities into platforming as well, providing Quill with new skills through unconventional ways. Holding down the attack button will charge her currently equipped weapon, allowing you to trigger its special ability as the Reader by physically moving your controller to touch it. The sword, for example, allows Quill to rush across gaps that a conventional leap would never let her to cross, slicing apart foes in her route.
The chakram can embed itself in walls and then be brought back like a boomerang to attack barriers that would otherwise be out of reach. Finally, you may use a mirror version of the Hammer to cover adversaries or a switch, then drop it as the Reader when needed. This blend of platforming and warfare was a lot of fun for me. Puzzles not only enhance battle above merely swinging a sword, but they also ingeniously utilise each skill, so you can’t just speed through and hope for the best.
The Reader has their own talents as well, allowing you to engage with Quill as if she were a different character in this universe. When piloting Quill, your route is frequently impeded by riddles, needing the Reader’s active assistance to progress. Simple chores like triggering Quill’s special attacks, or more hands-on activities like moving blocks and pulling foes onto switches by pointing the Dualshock controller’s gyro sensor at them, are examples.
The Reader also has a few new skills, such as climbing vines in specific locations and dragging others across the screen to form bridges, which give you creative new ways to solve these problems.
Solving puzzles is also a great way to strengthen your bond with Quill. Book 2 concentrates on your interactions with her, such as high-fiving her for a job well done, watching her pretend to surf as we move a platform she’s standing on, or simply hugging her. It’s one of Book 2’s most touching elements, and I discovered an unexpected emotional trip here. Its power is demonstrated by the fact that it was able to build Quill’s bond with her Reader largely via level design alone.
However, Book 2’s concepts aren’t always original, with many of the game’s new elements arriving after you’ve passed at least the first hour. This journey is thankfully lengthier than its predecessor I finished it in just under six hours, and that’s without exhausting my quest for the game’s collectable fragment scrolls, which are a compelling enough reward for diligent investigation.
While the game is totally linear, you may switch chapters at any time and go back in time to discover any treasures you may have missed, some of which are only available once you’ve obtained those new weapons.
Book 2 opts for an evolutionary approach rather than taking undue chances with its already proven formula, which is perfectly acceptable. This is as close to a perfect sequel as you can get, with no huge alterations that may harm what I liked about the first film or major innovations that could have instead raised it to new heights. Book 2 didn’t have to reinvent the wheel to be a blast, and it provided me exactly what I wanted from the first game: more.
The PSVR’s aged technology seems to be holding this sequel back.
Unfortunately, the PSVR’s outdated technology also holds this sequel behind. It was a game-changing headgear in 2016, but six years later, with a replacement on the road, it’s looking a little old. After experiencing Moss on PC with an Oculus Rift S, this seemed like a step back in terms of interaction quality.
Because of the light bar on the DualShock 4, it can’t be played with the PS Move controllers or the PS5’s DualSense if you’ve chosen to play through backwards compatibility. When manoeuvring Quill throughout each level, the DualShock controls seem good, but direct intervention as the Reader is a different story.
The immersion afforded by complete motion controls that VR thrives on is lacking while using the DualShock – admittedly, something the PS Move controllers aren’t comparatively very good at even if they were available. The PlayStation camera’s field of view was also a limitation, since grasping items further away didn’t always track correctly, which was a rare but annoying issue.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s still usable, but I couldn’t get the idea that Book 2’s design was sometimes compromised to accommodate these constraints. Let’s hope the PSVR exclusivity ends soon, just like it did with the previous Moss.
Despite the limits, Polyarc certainly placed tremendous depth into this world, conveying its tale through a combination of in-game interactions and storybook sequences you may browse through at your leisure in Book 2. Moss’s audiobook-style approach to voice acting is delightful once again, with the narrator adopting different voices for different characters while remaining recognisably them.
It’s a charming approach that piqued my interest, and it perfectly captured the mood of Book 2’s more emotional sections. This sequel also has more variation, both philosophically and in terms of design. Every environment I visited was richly detailed and vibrantly coloured, taking full use of the third-person perspective to explore levels in 360-degrees.
This isn’t something that could be readily recreated in a non-VR game, therefore Polyarc pushes you to get off the couch and investigate each level for hidden surprises using your VR headset. Most of the time, the items you’ll come across are definitely worth fighting for.
Moss: Book 2 is an excellent sequel that builds on the strengths of its predecessor. The idea remains enjoyable four years later, even if none of the updates actually strive to innovate on it, with new weaponry, creative puzzles, and a bright storybook backdrop.
Its exclusive release on the PSVR’s now clearly antiquated tech holds it back more than anything else, so I’m hopeful it, like the first Moss, will make the switch to PC or Meta Quest in the coming months. Even with a Dualshock 4, I had a great time rediscovering this universe, and I’m forward to see what Polyarc comes up with next.
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- April 25, 2022