Moss: Book 2 – Hands-Off Preview Impressions

In a rubble-strewn Arcane foundry hidden far below the castle, mechanical platforms and metal pipes jut out from rock faces while the background glows with the heat from the forge. Quill excitedly waves to the player to get their attention and points at an impressive statue of a Mole wielding a hammer. After interacting with it, the statue crumbles, freeing the hammer and allowing Quill to grab it. There’s something quite adorable about watching this tiny mouse heave around a hefty mallet, as with each swing you can see the weight of it pulling her body forwards.

It’s clear from the icon of a hammer on a nearby button what your goal is here, but it’s not as straightforward as you first think. Hitting the button causes the nearby platform to raise, but without Quill on it. However, charging the hammer causes an ethereal version of the weapon to float in the air — this can then be used by the player instead of Quill. While she scurries over to the platform, the player, as her ever-present companion, can use the ghostly hammer to hit the button for her. Problem solved.

In the next room, the hammer proves that it’s more than just a tool for puzzle solving or smashing obstacles out of your path. Enemies come out to attack Quill, including an armoured screecher. Fortunately, Quill can smash the armour off and leave the screecher vulnerable to attacks. Not only can Quill swing that bad boy around by herself in battle, but once again, the player is able to charge it and use the cloned hammer to attack enemies too.

The hammer is just one of many new weapons that players can unlock in Moss: Book 2. The combat will be familiar to those who have played the first game, but the introduction of new weapons and enemies will have players thinking on their feet a little more, prompting them to consider which weapon is best-suited to defeat certain enemies, while also allowing them to simply mix it up a little and let the little mouse unleash her fury.

One of the biggest changes in Moss: Book 2is that all of the areas you explore are now connected, allowing you to travel back and forth at will. As you unlock new weapons, traveling back to previous areas can yield new secrets as there will be certain puzzles and sections that are off-limits until you have the right tool to get past them. This adds a whole new layer to the game in terms of exploration and collectibles.

The environments in Moss were always breathtaking, and Book 2 improves upon this with not only interesting areas that feel very ‘real’ but in small details that add to the overall story and setting. In one area of the Arcane foundry, we can see weapon and armor moulds in the background — pieces that many of the new enemies wear or use — showing that this is the place where much of the Arcane army is created.

In the next room, a large Mjölnir-like hammer stands in the background. As Quill draws close, a giant clawed hand reaches out and takes it, but we don’t get to see anything more. During the preview, Moss: Book 2 principal engineer, designer, and lead Josh Stiksma explained that the game will include more big boss characters, similar to that of the Sarffog finale battle in Moss, so it’s safe to say that players look set to go hammer-to-hammer against this big bad, presumably the Warden of the entire foundry you spend time discovering.

While the foundry is a dark and menacing place, we were also shown a stunningly beautiful and bright castle courtyard. Humanoid statues lie broken with flowers and moss overtaking them, and in the background, you can glimpse a conservatory — Quill’s intended destination. Much like the first game, the player and Quill must work together to progress through each area. While many mechanics will be familiar, there are brand new ways for you to interact with Quill and the environment, as alongside unlocking new weapons, players can unlock new abilities too.

One of the new abilities showcased in the preview saw the player reaching in and grabbing part of a vine, then stretching it over to another vine, causing a bridge to grow and flourish between the two points. This new connection allows Quill to continue over to the next section. In the next area, the player is able to revive some dead vines on a wall so that Quill can then crawl up to the next platform, before seeing the player grab a new ball-like enemy called the Ripper and pin-ball shooting it up towards a button to open a gate.

One of the things I appreciated most was that when the player pans around to view their surroundings, you really feel as though you are in the world and that everything is connected. Part of the beauty of VR is that you feel as though you are there, but little details such as once you reach the outside of the conservatory, you can look back and see the castle that you’ve just come from, really add to the sense of worldbuilding.

I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the environments in the full game, as well as how they all tie into one another. With the promise of more freedom when it comes to exploration, I think Book 2 is going to feel so much larger. Returning to past areas and delving deeper into them with the help of new weapons gives the game a feeling of depth that the first didn’t quite master. I’m especially eager to see what new big boss battles await in the sequel, as the Sarffog showdown at the end of Moss was arguably the best bit, so more larger-scale set pieces like this will be a welcome addition for fans.

Moss: Book 2 is set to launch for PSVR on March 31, 2022 and looks set to expand on the first game in more ways than one. The charming world of Moss that Polyarc has created is simply enchanting and I’m eager to see how the bond between the player and Quill grows further in Book 2.

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