Moonlighter is a refreshing and exciting take on the rogue-lite genre. Players take control of a merchant named Will, who keeps a shop in the town of Rynoka. Outside the town lie a series of dungeons which Will must explore to keep his shop stocked with goods. The ever-changing layouts of the dungeons are riddled with monsters and bosses that lie at the end of each floor.
The basic cycle of the game is simple. When night falls, the player will head for the dungeons to slay monsters and get items to sell at their shop. After a successful run in the dungeons, daytime will arrive for the player to open up the doors and attend to their customers’ needs. If their hard work pays off, players can use the money they’ve earned to upgrade Will’s gear and go for another run in the dungeons.
The combat system of the game is satisfying, and various enemies and bosses are sure to keep players on their toes. Players can use a dodge roll to avoid enemy attacks and perform a weaker and a stronger attack themselves. To aid their way, players get to choose their weapons from a selection of swords, spears, and bows. These weapons can then be upgraded and enchanted using money and goods gained from dungeons. Other equipment like potions and armor can also be crafted or purchased from Rynoka’s merchants to keep Will from dying in the heat of battle.
The shopkeeping element of Moonlighter is surprisingly rewarding, albeit a bit tedious. Players will have to keep an eye on their items’ prices and how the customers react to them. Trying to find the perfect price point for a certain item can be a bit exhausting as there are plenty of different things to sell. You’ll have to serve customers, so they don’t get tired of waiting in line and at the same time keep an eye out for thieves trying to steal your precious belongings. Shopkeeping sure feels like more work than exploring the dungeons, but it’s all worth it once you gain the money required for that upgrade you need to defeat a boss and progress to the next dungeon.
While there is a fairly intriguing storyline going on as you progress your way through different dungeons, the main elements of Moonlighter are limited to exploring and shopkeeping. Simplicity is great and it’s often better to do a couple of things well instead of trying to cram a game full of features. Moonlighter does the former, but the gameplay is still left a bit hollow. The few gameplay elements incorporated are well crafted and fun, but after a while they get repetitive. You do gain some features to change things up, like the option to hire an assistant so you don’t have to do the shopkeeping yourself, but they offer minor relief to the repeating nature of the game.
Moonlighter is an innovative take on the rogue-lite genre. The game lures players in with its satisfying combat and interesting shopkeeping business simulator. The absence of a great storyline and pretty repetitive gameplay can feel annoying but nevertheless, Moonlighter offers tons of excitement and fun to fans of action RPGs and rogue-lites.
Reviewed on Switch. Pictures are screenshots of the game taken by the author.
– Publisher: 11 bit studios
– Developer: Digital Sun
– Platforms: macOS, PC, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, iOS
– Release date: PC etc. 29.5.2018, Switch 5.11.2018, iOS 19.11.2020
– Genres: Action RPG, rogue-lite, business simulator
– PEGI: 7