Sony’s showing at E3 2017 was undeniably VR-heavy. The company brought to life titles like the grim sci-fi platformer Star Child from developer Playful, the unsettling horror game The Inpatient from the creators of Until Dawn, and even the hyper-successful Skyrim for PSVR. The virtual reality fun didn’t stop there, however, as Sony unleashed an announcement trailer for Moss, a Zelda-inspired title also hitting the PSVR line-up.
Developed by Polyarc, Moss is angled in a top-down, third-person view and follows a young mouse named Quill. Seeking greatness and justice in kind, Quill answers the call when she’s summoned for a journey of epic proportions. When a “mysterious stone awakens ancient magic” and a “distant evil extends its reach,” its up to Quill to navigate through long-forgotten lands, crack the code on mind-bending puzzles, and face off against menacing opponents. Not unlike Link in The Legend of Zelda series, Quill is a hero in the making, and the storytelling is left in the hands of Moss players across the world.
It’s plain to see that Moss channels the charming elements of Zelda titles, an admittedly clever move on Polyarc’s part, and hones in on what makes games like Herobound and Robot Rescue so fantastic. But Polyarc developer Tam Armstrong spoke out in an interview to differentiate Moss from games both past and present, especially in virtual reality realm.
“Moss came from thinking about what VR is good at and it came from thinking about the first principles of what would make a good game,” Tam Armstrong in an interview with UploadVR. “VR can transport you places and offers you the opportunity to physically interact with things. We wanted a rich environment with a strong sense of place and let you manipulate objects. It’s so much more powerful in VR. Things came from that like the scale in the world and having a small hero so that all the interaction felt comfortable.”
While Moss and The Legend of Zelda both position the camera from the top-down and feature similar gameplay elements, the upcoming title focuses far more on exploration in a massive open world and the importance of solving in-game puzzles. Armstrong stated:
“One of our core principles is that we want as many people to be able to enjoy it as possible so we are leaning on exploration and puzzle solving because those are in particular the moments you can take the game at your own pace… We’ve seen a wide variety of play time in the game based on how much someone wants to be there and explore and solve puzzles on their own. The combat is a way to add some fun punctuation to the design and using enemies to solve puzzles.”
As confusing as it sounds, Moss will be quite a bit like Zelda but also not at all like Zelda — finding the middle ground between subtle inspiration and full-on imitation. It’s not likely that Moss will reach the level of success that the long-running high-fantasy adventure franchise will, as it’s been around for over 30 years (that’s a lot of gaming anniversaries) and has one of the most dedicated fan bases in gaming history.
But that’s not to say that Moss can’t or won’t find its own footing upon launch. It will be intriguing to see how a cutesy top-down title will fare against the darker games it was announced alongside. Will Moss blow Star Child out of the water? Can its twee narrative best the insanity of The Inpatient? It can’t be known for certain, but it’s almost a guarantee that gamers will have fun finding out.