Moonlighter is an action RPG with rogue-lite elements about Will, a shopkeeper that has dreams of becoming a hero. To make a living, Will needs to venture into the dungeons near his town, defeat strange enemies, and obtain items he can sell in his shop.
Take a walk with our Moonlighter review to see how a game makes the experience in a cave more attractive than ever thanks to a series of interesting mechanisms that are full of surprises.
Moonlighter is the name of a store in the town of Rynoka. However, the game does not belong to the construction trade category as you easily mistake, but places heavy emphasis on dungeon crawler experience. This series mainly focuses on exploring, fighting with the enemies, and most importantly finding the spoils.
When you have to do things you don’t like
Will in Moonlighter is a young, adventurous young man who soon set his life goal as conquering dungeons on the outskirts of his home village in Rynoka. The village itself was made up of adventurers who wanted to profit from the treasure dungeon system discovered by archaeologists. The treasure hunters flocked to rush into the dungeons to fight monsters to find treasures in an attempt to change their lives.
The Moonlighter grocery store, which was opened by Will’s family, serves treasure hunters. However, years passed by and the village of Rynoka became deserted when not many people wanted to find treasure anymore, except Will. Of course, the strength of a young boy is hard to withstand the powerful monsters in the dungeon and Will often returns with disastrous failure.
Merciful the young enthusiastically, the old man Zenon, a close friend of his grandfather Will, tried to advise him to be the owner of a grocery store instead of risking his life trying to find the bottom of the basement. So Will had to balance his passion and duty as he tries to both maintain Moonlighter and explore dungeons to import goods for sale.
If it sounds familiar at first glance, chances are you’ve experienced it without knowing it. Dungeon crawlers are part of the “monster hunting” experience that is common in most role-playing games but have many gameplay elements cut into separate genres. It has been quite popular since the 1980s when video games were limited in hardware, and absent for a long time afterward. But with the nostalgic trend in recent years of indie game developers, the genre reappears more and more.
Moonlighter is an action role-playing game but heavily focused on “hunting monsters” so it is difficult to categorize. Judging from the gameplay itself, this is a dungeon crawler, but if you look at everything, you can temporarily consider this is an action role-playing game with pixel style graphics. However, no matter what genre you put the game in, it’s undeniable that a series of gameplay mechanics are inspired by other games. But the game has more interesting improvements to refresh the experience compared to those others of the same category on the market.
Duties of a merchant
The task of the player in Moonlighter is simply to be a businessman and invest money in the development of the town, open new stores to be able to shop and create a revolving economy. Of course, you will also benefit from that investment, especially after the game is getting more and more difficult. Although it sounds complicated and repetitive, actually what players experience is simpler but more attractive, leaving you almost no time to think about it anymore.
As mentioned above, Moonlighter’s gameplay focuses on two elements of being a merchant and hunting monsters, but mostly remains the latter. Every evening, players will go hunting in the monster caves, looking for valuable items and bringing home for sale in the shop. These two systems are the main focus in gameplay, but the game is so perfectly combined that you can hardly separate them in the experience. The combination of such success must include a series of small, but cleverly blended mechanisms into the experience of the game and often create more work for players in a good sense.
Simple ideas complement the experience of “hunting in the cave” which is so familiar with many titles on the market, creating a unique feature for the game. Interestingly, these ideas have specific goals for players to do more work and constantly reward for the effort you have spent. This is the attractive point of the game that makes it very difficult to stop once you hit the start button.
Moonlighter’s combat system focuses on its ability to move precisely with attacks at the right time and use top-down viewing angles. The enemy also has a certain design investment as it not only differ in shape but also have their tactics. Players must discover their weaknesses and take advantage of that to eliminate monsters more effectively. If staying too long in a scene, you will be punished by the game and may lose all the booty earned. This makes the experience of fighting a familiar monster take place quite urgently, there is no room for slow so maybe not suitable for casual players.
The problem is, the deeper you go into the caves, the more you will be led and want to explore more. The experience is like a vicious loop, but the impact on each other is so clear. If you want to have more valuable things to sell and earn more money, players have no choice but to go fight monsters. The more money you earn, the better you can upgrade the town and make better equipment. All of these things are for hunting.
Nostalgic graphics, interesting sounds
Moonlighter graphics are designed in a classic 8bit pixel style. Despite being 2D pixels, the model quality is in high quality with smooth movements and flexible 2D effects. Pay attention to the way the hair of the characters fluttering or Will’s dead posture when failing in the dungeon, you will realize that they are very vivid, not as jerky as the old-style 8bit game.
The sound is designed in the old midi monophonic style in 8bit games but it is made with high quality so it creates a familiar and classic feel but is quieter and more vocal than the “rough” midi of the old days.
Moonlighter is a game with a strange way to play, combining trading, adventure, a dungeon with a unique RPG action style. Its number of defects is too low compared to the advantages, so this is a game that should not be missed. It is not by chance that this heterosexual grocery store won awards such as the Best Game Indie of GDC 2018 or voted for the best game of E3 2017.
Moonlighter is currently only available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.