Once upon a time, there was a storybook about a kingdom that fell to the evil of Sarffog, a fire-breathing snake; Set Right What Once Went Wrong; anthropomorphized animals, etc. It's fairly standard for a Zelda knock-off, which is what a lot of people were reminded of when they first heard of the game — a comparison that's not inaccurate. Quill, the mouse heroine, can jump, solve puzzles and wield a one-handed sword, brainsing and fighting her way through the story against a semi-stylized art direction that looks like watercolors.
What Quill has, that most other heroes don't (aside from the ones in Baten Kaitos), is the player, who exists in-game as a mask and a glowing cursor, and is called "The Reader" by characters. There is No Fourth Wall, as Quill can and does address The Reader directly. The Reader can also manipulate the game's world by moving their cursor over interactable objects, holding down shoulder buttons, and then moving the object via DualShock 4 motion inputs. The Reader must control Quill via thumbsticks and face buttons and interact with the world directly to help defeat Sarffog.
Released on February 27th, 2018, Moss has received praise from critics; it has been described as the first Killer App for PS VR, and indeed for VR as a whole, though it didn't stay exclusive for long - the game was later ported to PC and made compatible with every major PC VR headset available (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality) in June 2018.
Moss contains the following tropes:
- And the Adventure Continues: Once Sarffog is defeated and Quill's uncle Argus is rescued at the game's end, the narrator says that while this first volume of Quill's journey is over, your journey together is still just beginning.
- Behind the Black: averted. Though each room of the game is oriented towards The Reader for best viewing, they are still 3D; The Reader can stand up and look around to get better angles on the action, or find hidden treasures.
- Big Bad: Sarffog, the snake who used dark magic to conquer the kingdom that the animals once inhabited before they fled into the forest. Though it's implied by the fact that the symbol of the Arcane is of the same owl that killed the Animal King, he might actually be The Dragon.
- Bilingual Bonus: though Quill uses American Sign Language to communicate, she doesn't use much of it, and there are no subtitles for it.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: Before long, Quill is equipped with a second Glass, a gauntlet on her right paw that becomes her sword.
- Book-Ends: Literally, as the game uses a magic storybook as a framing device. Even moreso with the fact that the first and last pages of the book feature a map of the world of Moss and a buttefly flying over it. The map on the last page, however, features a dotted line indicating the path that Quill and the Reader took on their journey from the forest to the castle.
- Capital Letters Are Magic: Through the medium of the Glass, an artifact created by the Arcane, a Champion and a Reader join forces to save the day.
- The Chosen One: Quill, by The Reader. (Of course, the player doesn't get a chance to choose anyone else, so this is more of a case of Because The Developers Say So.)
- Collection Sidequest: scrolls are littered around the game which, when collected, put together a stained-glass portrait of the Reader and Quill.
- Cuteness Proximity: Almost every professional review of the game has spent at least a few sentences gushing over how adorable Quill is.
- Framing Device: the player starts off flipping pages in a storybook in some sort of giant library. This is why everyone in-story refers to the player as The Reader: you are actually reading the book of Quill's story. Additionally, each time Quill travels between rooms, there's the sound of a page in a book being turned.
- Hint System: Quill herself. If you've been frowning at a puzzle for a little too long, she will try to explain to you how to solve it. Of course, she's limited to squeaking, pantomime and ASL.
- Humanity's Wake: Midway through the game, Quill travels through a forest littered with human-sized helmets and swords, implying that there were once humans in this world, but they all died out. Nobody comments on them.
- The Lost Woods: the primary setting for the game.
- MookFace Turn: The Reader can actually take control of the various mechanical beetle enemies in the game. This is primarily intended for use in solving puzzles, but can also be used to help Quill deliver a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
- Narrator: there is one any time there's a Cut Scene, which is handy because none of the animals can talk.
- No Fourth Wall: Or, rather, it's somewhere behind the player. Early in the game, The Reader finds themselves floating above a pool of water, interacting with Quill. Look down and you will see your own reflection, mask and cursor, in the water.
- Notice This: Downplayed. When The Reader's cursor nears an object that can be interacted with, it will glow with blue highlights. (It glows even more when you actually start pushing it around.)
- Regenerating Health: Quill wears her Glass orb on her back. Interacting with it will heal her, though this takes a few seconds.
- Snakes Are Sinister: Sarffog is a giant, hellish iron serpent that wouldn't be out of place in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
- Some Dexterity Required: Some puzzles require you to interact with objects and control Quill at the same time.