As a kid I spent a lot of time at the local pet shop in front of the small animal cages. Hamsters and mice went about their business, ignoring my looming presence, but occasionally a pair of tiny feet would press against the glass, beady black eyes peering my way. PlayStation VR adventure Moss feels like that.
I know it’s not a real connection. When the mice in the pet store tore their attention away from food or toys or other mice to acknowledge me, I knew it was less “I love you, human!” and more “Holy shit, would you look at the size of this thing!” But my imagination, bolstered by animated classics like The Secret of NIHM and The Rescuers, tells a different tale. We are friends, standing on our hind legs and eating food with our forepaws.
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Quill, the mouse hero of Moss, is very good at making me feel like a friend. I may manifest in her woodland world as a towering spirit made of glowing blue light, but she reacts to and interacts with me as an equal.
Me and my mouse friend.
Technically it’s a one-sided relationship. I am the hovering spirit looking down on Quill’s tiny world, using my big-person powers to move heavy blocks, manipulate mechanical puzzles and lend a hand against Quill’s enemies. I am also Quill herself, using my controller to scamper and clamber about the game’s environs, leaping from platform to platform and swinging my sword.
But when the fights have ended and the puzzles are solved, she’ll turn her beady black eyes to me, and the fanciful connection is reestablished. She gives me a thumbs up. I lean down and scritch her ears. Upon completing a particularly puzzling stage I let out a little cheer, and to my surprise, so did Quill. It’s an artificial bond, but the moment was real.
Moss is a pet shop, filled with row after row of increasingly complex cages. Each new scene is another opportunity for me to lean in, hoping that Quill-senpai notices me.
She always does.
Did I mention squirrels? There are also squirrels. Best pet shop ever.