Moss: Book II - Quest 2 Review
A quest on the Quest
Virtual reality is a strange bit of technology. The latest, if not the greatest, advancement in the gaming industry boasts some of the most immersive experiences available to gamers. However, for as cool as those titles are, the platform suffers from myriad problems that often make it difficult to truly enjoy the tech. Often, these are due to physical limitations inherent from something that forces you to stand in a large room for hours at a time. And while titles like Pavlov VR seek to remedy that problem by promoting short play sessions, there’s still a lack of truly relaxing games to play on the Quest 2 (and PlayStation VR or Valve Index). Moss: Book II doesn’t necessarily solve that problem, but with its five-hour runtime and sitting-oriented control scheme, it’s a step in the right direction for a technology that’ll hopefully be dominating humanity’s free time in the near future.
Unlike the majority of virtual reality-exclusive games, Moss: Book II isn’t an immersive first person shooter. Instead, it’s a weird mixture of fairy tales and Fable that puts you in control of someone who’s reading a children’s adventure book. Said book, which is technically the second in its series after the original Moss, tells the story of a mouse named Quill that’s tasked with saving a dead kingdom. However, instead of directly controlling the mouse, you play as someone who’s reading its story while directing the mouse during combat and navigation sequences.
Assuming that you haven’t played the first Moss game, this may seem a tad confusing, but thankfully it’s a lot more straightforward than it initially appears. In “cutscenes”, all you need to do is flip through pages with your Quest controllers (or presumably your PlayStation VR ones, the details of which you can read about here) while sitting on your most comfortable real life chair. When cutscenes end, you’re able to control Quill with the Quest’s joysticks, order the fluffy fur-tagonist to attack with the controller’s buttons and occasionally manipulate the environment for puzzles with movement controls all while having a 3D view of the game’s environments.
It’s a weird way to make use of the capabilities of virtual reality to be sure, but thankfully it works surprisingly well. Unlike the other small handful of child-oriented VR games, it’s relaxing to explore the game’s linear story while remaining seated. Combat isn’t overly intense because of its quasi-third person perspective. However from a gameplay perspective, the game is ultimately as enjoyable as its said competitors because it asks very little of you in terms of real world physical movement. The smattering of puzzles, too, are also a welcome addition that necessitate VR’s 3D environments while remaining straightforward and non-intensive.
And it certainly helps that Moss: Book II’s story is enjoyable as well. While the title isn’t the video game equivalent of Oscar bait, Quill’s journey from being a mouse with a mission to a mouse that’s achieved its mission is interesting enough. It’s reminiscent of traditional children’s fairy tales, which means that while there aren’t any notable plot twists or meaning of life quandaries, it’s still pleasant to sit through even if you’re on the older end of the age spectrum of gamers.
This is also probably a good place to mention that, from a technical perspective, Moss: Book II is a great enough game. It won’t be winning any awards for its graphics or sound design, but given the strange nature of virtual reality, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The title looks and sounds about as well as anyone would expect, and it’s also about as bug free as games get these days.
Which means that, when combined with its interesting take on combat and acceptable narrative, Moss: Book II is a pretty good game. It’s not the best title available on the Quest 2, however it is one of the most straightforwardly casual and comforting ones. The tale of a cute fluffball that needs to smack some non-humanoid enemies works well with its sitting-oriented control scheme and decent enough graphics. Adults looking for the latest and greatest virtual reality title will want to look elsewhere, but parents who don’t want their kids learning about swear words on Onward or Pavlov VR while still making use of the Quest should seriously consider this title. It’s one of the few games on the platform designed for everyone who isn’t able to drown their sorrows in scotch, and these days, that’s about as good as anyone can hope for.
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