For generations, your family has owned and operated a shop in a small village named Moonlighter. Time has passed and so has family and now it is time for you, the player, to operate Moonlighter. It is shown that throughout the protagonist’s life he dreamed of adventuring inside the mysterious dungeons on the outskirts of the village. Now that he is older, he packs his sword and shield and enters the dungeons in search of treasure and answers.
Moonlighter is at its core a top-down, rouge-lite game. The player navigates through five slightly different dunegons in search of loot, to piece together the purpose of the dungeons. Faltering is okay because if the player does perish, he quickly loses all his backpack items and is spit out to venture again another night. The looting is reminiscent of Darkest Dungeon, where the player is doused constantly in loot but they only have so much bag space. This mechanic is great because it allows players to weigh what is most important to them: grabbing loot to sell for a small fortune to upgrade the store or to grab items that can help with crafting more powerful gear. Even though the decision becomes arbitrary because the player is allowed to enter the dungeons as many times as they please, it is still fun to weigh what is important.
The player can choose between a multitude of play styles in the game. There is option for light, medium and heavy armor that affect how fast the player can run and how much damage they can absorb. The player can choose between a sword and shield, gauntlet, broadsword and bow & arrow. All weapons can be upgraded to either deal significant more damage or deal status effects to enemies. All these choices allow for any person to play the way that they want.
No matter the play style, though, Moonlighter’s combat does end up being repetitious and eventually gets stale. The base combat is hit and dodge. Smacking and enemy within range then dodging is usually the formula for most enemies and it does not really evolve from that.
After the player loots the dungeon (and hopefully doesn’t get ganked along the way) clean, you now need to deduce the prices for the itema that you plan to sell in the shop. This is the section where Moonlighter shines. After setting the prices, the store opens and a flood of customers of all shapes and ages walk in to browse the wares you picked up from the dungeon. Facial expressions are key here because it signals to the player how the customer feels: excitement with money eyes is underpriced, a smile is appropriately priced, a sigh is a tad overpriced and an angry face is ridiculous. I personally lost myself in this damn haggling simulator. It was exciting to guess prices and watch how the patrons reacted to them. It does feel bad knowing that an item was wirth more than what you thought but it was always exciting to obtain sale knowledge and play around with the market.
After you juice the patrons, there are upgrades for the shop as well: a sale bin to sell unwanted items at a percentage off, extra storage, a better bed for better sleep and additions of space to sell more items. There is also a bulletin board in the town square that offer vendors to build in your town, for a price. A blacksmith, a witch, a merchant, a traveller and a banker can all help the player on their quest to defeat the five dungeons.
Moonlighter hits All the right notes with me. The music was atmospheric and fit each area of the game very well. The dungeons and enemies were all different enough to keep me inveated in each dungeon, the upgrades and the shop simulator had me running back into dungeons to see how badly I can juice the people walking into my store. The combat did eventually become stale during my new game plus, but it did not stop me from conquering the final boss for a second time so I could sell a marble for 45,000 gold.