Moonlighter – PC Review

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Genre: Adventure, Rogue-Lite
Developer: Digital Sun
Publisher: 11 Bit Studios
Release Date: Dec 21, 2018
Edited by Eden

Moonlighter is a top-down dungeon crawling game with a nice twist. Everything you collect or loot is not just for upgrades, but to help you to sell in your store which is in a small town outside the dungeon. The game sets up the story very quickly and to the point. You have a store and dream of opening the 5th door of the dungeon. The town is near abandoned due to the lives lost in the dungeon.

At the start, you are given two weapons, a broom (spear) and the sword and shield. You are given no armor and the game starts your rough journey by going into the dungeon to acquire the goods to sell with the goal of improving your store and town. Improvements to the town include moving other shops into the abandoned buildings to help better yourself. The first couple, for example, being the blacksmith to build weapons and armor and the potion shop to give healing items and enchantments. The dungeons are randomly generated for each floor but you will notice a structure to them and run into the same types of rooms and enemies. This helps control the randomness to control difficulty as you journey through the game. I felt like I could learn the enemies and what I was running into to help me get further than the last time going in the dungeon

Combat in the game is pretty straightforward. You have a basic attack, special attack, and dodge. If you played any roguelike game you will feel less of a stranger in gaining a footing to fighting the enemies. I love how the game gives you an amulet early on that allows you to teleport back home for a fee and then not long after you get an item that can instantly give you gold for an item but at a very reduced rate. This seems silly but the amulet requires gold to teleport you out of the dungeon. This is better than dying and losing all items in your bag. The game also keeps you in the dark (at first) of what an item is worth. In your shop, you have to price the items but the game helps you keep track of the responses of the customers to help find the “sweet spot” to price items. Adding to the challenge, some items you pick up will have special enchantments that will require you to place them in a certain spot in your bag or do something to your inventory in some way. It was very annoying when half your pack is full of these items and you have to trade off with others even if your bag isn’t full.

It does warn you at the title screen that is game is better with a controller but I personally found that a keyboard is ok. I did find it more enjoyable with a controller than the keyboard.

The art and music of the game were smooth and enjoyable. The music and style changed slightly in each floor keeping me happy with the last floor I completed. At the end of each part of the dungeon, there is a boss and these will challenge and prevent most from being ill-equipped or ill-prepared for the next level.

Different weapons will have an easier time killing some than others. Weapon trees in upgrading are divided in strong damage or slightly weaker damage but with added elemental effects. Any upgrade will feel as huge and never just a slight change. Equipment is divided in helmet, armor, and boots. Items with large bonuses to health will make you slower and ones with lesser health upgrades will make you faster. There isn’t a set bonus which allows you to find a middle ground if you choose. The game even aids you in not accidentally selling items you need by wish listing the items in the store you want to make.

At many times you don’t know what value you have in your pack until you been selling the items a few times and this added the thrill to me. The feel of a good day of collecting, then selling and visually seeing the fruits of your efforts that then turn into upgrades gives it a more rewarding feeling than just killing something and instantly getting the weapon or gold.

Moonlighter felt very refreshing and I would even be interested in getting it on the Nintendo Switch with how easy it is to pick up and put down. I would fully recommend this to anyone that enjoys top-down games or a nice rewarding challenge. The game could be seen as a bit repetitive in the combat you use to tackle some enemies with your weapon choices. I would be very excited if this game ever gets a sequel and I could see more games adopting the merchant side of it. My only wish for the game is that I wish the town was more lively than just for your own personal use and for your dungeon treks. I really couldn’t connect to any of the villagers in the town in any meaningful way and they seemed very uninteresting.

Pros

  • Rewarding Game Play
  • Nice Challenge
  • Enjoyable Ambiance

Cons

  • Town Itself Is Boring
  • Backpack Management Can Be Annoying
  • Not Much Of A Story

FoxieEXE gives Moonlighter a Drastik Measure 8.5 (85)

Check it out on Steam