With Moss: Book II (released on March 31st 2022) Polyarc Games delivers the long-awaited sequel of VR-adventure gem Moss: Book I (2018) and, boy, does it deliver!
Moss: Book I is and always will be one of my absolute favorite games. It is, as I have stated in that game’s review, what VR was made for. So, while expectations in the sequel were high, I was confident in the studio’s abilities to come up with another gripping tale of friendship, sacrifice and heroism set in the gorgeous world of Moss.
There will be minor spoilers.
As you, the Reader, finds themselves back in the gorgeous library, the narrator begins with the tale of Moss: Book II. And while you listen to her and turn the pages of the book you are again reminded of how beautiful the world of Moss truly is. The story itself picks up where we left off in the previous game, right after the battle for the Castle.
Inside the Castle, our hero and best friend, the incredibly cute mouse Quill, is tasked by her uncle with finding the five King’s glass stones in order to defeat the Arcane, an evil that threatens all of Moss.
With the help of her Reader Quill sets out to explore locations like the enchanted realm of the Sprites, an abandoned Greenhouse or the Forgery. Working in tandem, they uncover glass stones as well as relics, scoring success after success, until fate delivers a crushing blow that puts everything and everyone in peril. Will the two of you prevail?
Heroes and Villains
Quill is, of course, the hero and the star of the story. She is a champion and brave beyond measure. With her Reader by her side, she is unstoppable. Her uncle and his best friend, a mage, will mentor her in the beginning. Later on, another hero will emerge, Sahima, a fierce warrior wary of the Readers. You will have to convince her of your worth.
The main villain is Tylen, the owl. Mid-game, the narrator will fill you in on his background story in depth and it is a fascinating tale indeed. He commands an army of forged minions as well as such formidable bosses like the Warden of the Forgery or the Keeper of the Greenhouse. They guard legendary weapons that will come in very handy in your later fights. But, first, you have to defeat them! Here’s how to make short work of the Warden.
The story’s chapters are seperated by the Reader’s visits to the library, where some central encounters are depicted on the pages of the book. Yet the library itself is always a sight and each time I visit, I am again blown away by the VR-experience.
The Castle is the central location of the game and this is where you will return to at the pivotal moments of the game. Still, it is not quite as gorgeous as some other locations.
In the realm of the Sprites or in the Mountains you will discover tiny details in the background that will have you in awe, such as a snow hare startled from its hiding place by determined Sahima.
The Greenhouse and the Forgery are enemy strongholds and will challenge your puzzling and fighting skills. The arena battles are back, of course, but new foes make for fun new moves that will put your speed to the test.
While the 2D-depictions are already gorgeous, experiencing these locations in VR is absolutely mind-blowing.
Abilities and Weapons
You will be playing as Quill and as her powerful guardian at the same time. As the Reader you can push and pull certain objects, freeze and move most enemies, manipulate nature and – most important of all – heal Quill when she is injured.
By pulling and pushing objects, you can open up new ways for Quill to navigate a level, but you can also use them as weapons, like in the final boss fight.
Freezing a Forged enemy allows Quill to move in for the kill more easily. For, yes, you can control both the enemy and Quill at the same time. Freezing and manipulating enemies also opens the opportunity of pitting them against one another.
In the first quarter of the game the Reader is granted the ability to grow things by the Sprites. That entails growing ivy leaves that Quill can use to scale up cliffs and growing bridges from one root to another to allow her to traverse objects and chasms.
When healing Quill, you need to be aware of her enemies and need to keep moving her out of danger, since she is helpless while in the Reader’s grasp. Beware especially during the boss fights, when you face off against Tylen’s minions and never see the boss’ attack coming, because you are so intent on that fight alone!
Oh. And you can smash objects to free up dust motes that come in handy when opening the doors to relic shrines.
Quill herself is a nimble little creature. Her weapon of choice is a green sword that will be outfitted with a dash ability later on. That is useful for crossing chasms and for charging through enemy ranks with devastating force.
Her second weapon is a Chakram, bestowed upon her by Sahima. The Chakram is a ranged weapon that is literally no good in a melee fight. So it is a good thing that you now have an inventory the Reader can use to quickly outfit Quill with another weapon during a fight. But: the Chakram has its uses. It can be charged and will then turn into a pretty neat tool for opening certain passages.
The last weapon, then, is a hammer. That hammer can be used by Quill and by the Reader, which will be a very important aspect of the last two boss fights, against the Warden and Tylen himself.
Also, you can find two new sets of armor for Quill inside the relic chambers.
Almost six years have passed since I last did a high-five with little Quill. Yet seeing her again, working with her, felt incredibly comfortable. Like meeting up with a childhood friend and finding you still click instantly and know each other by heart.
I laughed, I cried, I cheered us on – mostly Quill, actually – and was constantly awestruck by the beautiful settings of the game. And I almost had a heart attack when the final library scene played out. Needless to say: I will be ready for Moss: Book III.
Until then, keep on playing!