We got a quick look at Moss: Book 2 ahead of its launch later this month, and it’s shaping to be a worthy sequel. Read on for more.
I was worried Moss: Book 2 would be more of the same. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing — everyone has fond memories of their first adventure with Quill — but the rock-solid foundations laid out by the first game risked merely being expanded upon rather than truly evolved. Developer Polyarc could have easily flicked autopilot on for this one.
Certainly, the studio has talked about “more”: more content, puzzles, connection, emotion and just about any other buzzword you might be able to think of, but how would that translate into something genuinely new? Having seen about 10 minutes of gameplay, I think I might have an inkling.
Simply put, Book 2 looks like a much more interactive sequel, to the point where Quill appears as much a cooperative partner as she is a playable character. Take combat, for example. In the first game, action boiled down to some simple button inputs to make Quill swing her sword, with some Zelda-like quirks adding a little procedure to fights. It certainly worked, but pressing buttons on a gamepad or motion controller as you would in any flatscreen game didn’t exactly capitalize on VR’s potential as much as the game’s other elements did.
In the sequel, new abilities and items suggest players will have a more active role in the action, and allow Quill some of her own independence. At one point in the demo, Quill obtains a new hammer weapon. In her own hands, it works like you might expect – slower, heavier attacks that are good for brutalizing enemies with thicker defenses. But it also comes with a secondary ability, allowing Quill to make a mirror version of the hammer where she’s currently standing. She can then double back as the player reaches in to literally bring the hammer down themselves.
It’s a fascinating twist that opens your mind up to where Moss: Book 2 could really go, with Quill able to operate outside the realm of traditional close-quarters combat and the player being actively involved in events. “That is our goal,” Joshua Stiksma, Engineer & Designer told us in an interview we’ll publish later this week. “We want the world to feel physical and for that, we need to have you reaching in a whole lot more. And, there’s the world, that’s a conduit for reaching in but when with Quill it feels so much more powerful because she’s looking at you, when you’re reaching in and charging her weapon or reaching in. And in the case, of the hammer, setting off this big hammer that she created for you just, you feel more involved.”
There’s similar ideas teased earlier on, like players grabbing vines to make bridges or painting walls with vegetation to allow Quill to clamber up. Another enemy type, meanwhile, curls up upon contact, allowing you to fling them about the scenery like a pinball. It’s an impressive array of ideas that makes me much more confident that Book 2 will deliver a genuinely considered sequel. More weapons and abilities have been teased, but we haven’t seen them just yet.
I don’t want to get into too much more because, as you’ve no doubt heard, we’re very close to getting our hands on the full thing and I’d rather save myself the repetition. Polyarc itself says it’s still playing its cards close to its chest, with other features being saved for the final game, but I did manage to squeeze out of Stiksma that maybe PSVR’s microphone could play a role either in the sequel or future iterations.
In fact, if there’s any last concern it’s that Book 2 is releasing at the cusp of a transitional time for the VR industry, with tomorrow’s innovations right around the corner. Launching on PSVR, the game’s still tied to gamepad design, so don’t expect multiple points of simultaneous activity that would be afforded by focusing on two motion controllers, and I can’t help but wonder what the eye-tracking seen in PSVR 2 and Project Cambria could’ve meant for interacting with Quill in the sequel. Perhaps we’ll still see that in future versions of the game (still no definitive confirmation of Quest 2 and beyond but we can all pretty much see where it’s headed, right?).
Moss: Book 2 hits PSVR on March 31. Are you going to be checking out the game? Let us know in the comments below!