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Posted July 9, 2017 by Daniel Kizana in Feature
 
 

E3 2017: Moss Preview


We’d all worn those red/blue glasses before, but do you remember the first time you sat down in front of a 3D movie, at home or at the cinema, and were just so blown away that you thought to yourself “Holy Cow, this technology is the way of the future”? Me neither. No one thought that. 3D cinema, circa Avatar, was a breakthrough, but it didn’t revolutionise the film industry, and it didn’t inspire a great deal of innovation from production houses.

I’ve always felt much the same way about VR in the gaming industry; obviously a jump forward, but not being used to its full creative potential. That is, until I had a chance to visit Polyarc at E3 and sit down with a preview of their upcoming title, Moss, which has reignited my excitement for VR gaming technology.

Moss is an adventure title centred around a sword-wielding mouse, Quill, and her human-sized, ethereal ‘guardian’, both of whom are under player control. Polyarc have built an intriguing world, rendered in a classical, fantasy style that immediately charmed me and conjured up childhood memories of fairy tales and picture books. Full of mechanical contraptions, gargantuan ruins and exotic fauna, it really is a beautiful place to sit.

We’ll be sitting for most of the journey, since Moss features a fixed-camera perspective that not only alleviates potential motion sickness issues, but also provided the perfect angle from which to behold the game’s exceptional level design. Controlling the player’s perspective allowed Polyarc to craft complex, ingenious puzzles that play with space and depth, all the while demanding contribution from both Quill and the ‘guardian’.

The puzzles I experienced were short but satisfying, and required experimentation. The ‘guardian’ pulled levers, moved enemies and manipulated enormous structures, while Quill hacked and slashed her way through mechanical foes, stood on switches and jumped through steel hoops. She’ll even give you a little smile if you help her out of a bind.

The control scheme is refined and intuitive; actions as the ‘guardian’ are controlled with the Dualshock 4’s inbuilt movement tracking and light bar, while Quill’s movement and actions are handled as normal on the buttons and sticks. It all gels together so well, and, as such, the gameplay experience in Moss is shaping up to be unique and thrilling. The ‘diorama’ perspective itself is a major factor in this; you’re at enough distance to take in the scenery, while still close enough to ‘physically’ contribute to the action. It’s really like nothing I’ve ever played before.

We don’t know much about the story yet, but every other element of this meticulously designed title gives me confidence that they won’t drop the ball. In fact, my favourite thing about the preview is that the intro sequence depicts a library in which “all of the books and stories about the world of Moss are being read, and, in this case, written.” Are you kidding me? They’re going to do a whole bunch of different stories? Like Discworld? Like The NeverEnding Story, only a whole library? Thank you Polyarc. Take my money. Ideas like this are the future of gaming.

If you can’t tell, I’ve already fallen a little in love with Moss. It’s ticking every box; the devs are excited, the gameplay is stellar, the potential for a series is huge. This is about as safe as a pre-order gets, and if you’re still nervous about investing in VR equipment, the reveal trailer below should tip you over the edge.

 


Daniel Kizana

 


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