Moss: Book II Hands-Off Preview – Back when Sony first unveiled the PSVR, there was plenty of excitement, but also skepticism. There hadn’t been a VR device with the reach of PSVR, as it worked in conjunction with the PS4 players already owned.
Some dived right in, but many took hesitant, cautious steps forward when entering the waters of VR. Moss: Book I however, changed player skepticism forever.
It was, and still is, a VR game that showed what is possible within this medium. For storytelling, for player immersion, for design.
With Book II on the horizon, I was given the chance to see some gameplay, and speak to Doug Burton, a designer hard at work on Polyarc’s upcoming project.
Moss: Book II aims to expand on everything that went right in the first game, and by the looks of it, they’ve done just that.
Moss: Book II Hands-Off Preview – A Rare Opportunity Seized
When going through the feedback from their first game, Polyarc discovered they’d been successful in many areas, but one in particular. Building a connection between the player, and Quill.
So when they began working on Book II, telling a story that allows for a deep, emotional connection between the player and Quill was a key goal.
“The connection with Quill really connected with players, as a semi-co-op experience so we wanted to lean more into that, and have more of that back and forth between the two (player and Quill) to see how far we could take it”.
To create that connection, Polyarc looked to each aspect of gameplay, and how they could build on it. The world is far more interactive this time around, and there’s more for you to pull, grab, and smash to help Quill on her adventure.
Speaking of smashing things, a new weapon I got to see is this giant stone hammer Quill finds in the Gardens. Not only does using the hammer change up how you can approach combat, but it is also very handy for a variety of puzzles.
Though Polyarc wasn’t ready to share any more of the new weapons and mechanics we can expect, what was clear through the gameplay I saw is that different weapons will have many different uses.
Not only will they change up the pacing of combat, but there’s ample opportunity to us them in puzzles, and exploring the world. And all of it is geared towards developing a deeper, stronger connection with Quill, as you navigate the world and obstacles together along the way.
Something Old, Something New
Though it feels like it’s been many years since the rise of PSVR and VR devices in general, the medium is still very young, and as such lacks a wealth of longstanding franchises.
With that in mind, Moss: Book II is a rare opportunity that not many VR developers get, and it’s something Polyarc recognizes.
So it’s no surprise that Book II picks right up off from the end of Book I, immediately getting returning players off the cliffhanger they’ve been on since the end of Book I.
While Polyarc does recommend you play the first game before diving into the second, Burton did definitively say it’s not fully required, as you will get a recap of previous events at the start of Book II.
“Players definitely don’t have to play Moss: Book I to enjoy Moss: Book II”. He did point out however that while you can be recapped on the story events from the first game, there’s no way to really “recap” that emotional connection and experience of going on that adventure with Quill.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be things players can recognize from Book I in Book II. Argus will of course be a part of Book II, along with other returning characters and of course some new ones.
Returning enemies like the Screechers are back, and there are even new variations of them this time around, like armoured screechers that require a hammer instead of a sword to defeat.
The Ripper is a new kind of enemy, who’ll attack by charging at you in the shape of a ball, with its sharp spikes prepared to “rip” through Quill. Like other parts of the environment though, you, as the reader, can grab a Ripper, and pull it to fire like a slingshot or in a pinball machine, in order to solve puzzles.
A Rare Opportunity Seized
Moss: Book II is the kind of sequel fans never thought they would get, but are ecstatic to be getting. While I only saw a short snippet of gameplay, hearing from the developers and watching what I did see made it clear that just like Book I, this will likely be a must-own for any PSVR user.
Book I, so furthering that is definitely a big task. But the team at Polyarc isn’t worried – Burton spoke about how the first game was in part, experimental, in whether or not the connection they were trying to build between the player and Quill would resonate.
Now however it steps into Book II, knowing that the things Polyarc were concerned about, needed no concern at all. Frankly, I’d say hearing that it decided to lean back into that core emotional connection is one of the best things a Moss fan could hear when thinking about the sequel.
Most of all though, Polyarc, and Burton, just hope players enjoy themselves.
“I want players to sit back after they’ve finished Book II, and just say ‘That was a really great experience'”.
As Polyarc focuses on increasing player immersion, expanding gameplay and building a larger, more detailed world to explore, the more confident I am that Burton, and the rest of the Polyarc team, will achieve just that.
You’ll be able to join Quill on her next adventure, this coming March 31, 2022.