Moonlighter is a dungeon crawler with shop management features and it offers a unique calming experience. The story is a simple one: You are the son of a well known adventurer who lives in a town where dungeon crawling is an occupation. You inherit a shop, and after a while, you decide that you want to be something more. Being a merchant is somewhat satisfying. But you are capable of something bigger. And it’s time to get that broom, and use it to destroy some golems.
Your name is Will, a young guy who have bigger dreams. An elderly fella comes to you one day and he tries to encourage you to stay in your shop and forget about raiding those randomly generated dangerous dungeons. Of course, you say no to this. And just like a super hero, you put your merchant mask on during the day, and become a fearless dungeon raider during the night.
Just like I said, the story is simple yet enough for a game like this. And it is not the story which will make you play this game for hours. It is actually the beautifully implemented mixture of two different yet close genres.
Raid dungeons, make profit. Simple.
It sounds simple, I admit that. But the first time you step into the Golem Dungeon, you will suddenly realize that the game actually has a mechanic which tests your greed and micromanagement skills. First of all, you can’t just run around, kill everything, get every single item and get rich quickly. You have to choose which item to take with you and which one to leave. But how can you decide which one is the best?
In order to make a profit and have happy customers, you should test your shop management skills. At start, you have four different stands in your shop. Each one of them can hold a stack of one specific item. When you put them on the stand, you get to decide how much will they cost. And when your customers browse your inventory, they react to those prices. A happy face on top of your customer’s head is a good sign. You can now put the same item for the best price. However, if you make it too expensive, your customers will get angry, and leave the shop without buying anything. Which, at the end of the day, will result in wasting the whole day without any profit if you’re not careful.
These two different aspects of the game are put together and it actually makes the game fun to play. It doesn’t offer action filled hours or long dialogues, but it actually uses the simplest forms of different genres that it doesn’t tire you at all, making the game a perfect choice for a casual relaxing time.
A dungeon which is like an illusion.
There are a couple of other mechanics in this game which will affect the gameplay experience. First of all, I should mention that there are five dungeons in total: Golem Dungeon is the first one where you face golems and other basic enemies. The second dungeon is the Forest Dungeon. Here, you face many plant-like enemies and poison based damage types. It is harder than the Golem Dungeon, obviously, and the items you’ll get are almost entirely different. The third dungeon is the Desert Dungeon which I haven’t visited yet. But the main idea is the same as it was for the first two dungeons. Fourth one is the Tech Dungeon, which, I presume, offers tech based, mechanical enemies. The last one is the Unknown Dungeon. This dungeon is your last destination and its habitants are unknown. And you ultimate dream is to unlock the door of this fifth dungeon.
There are two different parts of a day. When you wake up, you arrange the items you want to sell, put a price tag on them, and open the door to let the customers come in. When the day is finished, and the last customer left with a satisfied face, you start dungeon raiding. This is when the action starts. You will find yourself raiding all of these dungeons to get items and eventually make profit.
Basically, you raid dungeons to get items which you sell to get money. You use the money to improve the town, your own shop and your gear. To make money, you should raid the dungeons. Each dungeon has different enemies, thus, offers different item types, potentially have a better price range. At the end of the each dungeon, you will fight a boss to unlock the next one.
Simple mechanics, simple weapons… It’s simply fun.
The combat mechanics are pretty simple. You it three times with a combo, and you have a special attack depending on your weapon type. There are two different weapon slots that you can use at a time and you can choose between five different weapon types: Swords and Shields, Big Swords, Spears, Gloves and Bows. Each one of these weapons dictates a different combat style. Swords and Shields have a short range, but a better defensive option. Big Swords are slower, but have a better damage output. Spears have a better range. Gloves are faster and Bows are the ranged weapons.
After getting used to these mechanics, you will see that getting items and making profit becomes much easier than before. However, you should be careful when arranging your inventory as Moonlighter has a unique inventory management system and it changes a lot when it comes to the items you need and the ones that you can sacrifice.
The five item slots on top of your inventory is you ‘no risk’ space. The items you put there will come with you even if you fail in a dungeon and have to leave the other items behind. However, be careful when placing the items that you loot from a chest as they might have curses on them. Some of them destroy an item pointed by an indicator. Some lifts a curse on an item. Some needs to be placed on edges of the inventory whereas some will transform into a random item when you leave the dungeon. So, it is crucially important to take good care of your inventory.
A life of a humble merchant and a somewhat fierce adventurer.
The visuals and the sound effects of the game are incredibly beautiful if you ask me. I am not a huge fan of pixel art games. But his one actually got my attention. The animations and visuals are so smooth that you will immediately start appreciating the hard work of the devs.
I can also say the same for the sound effects and musics. They are so nostalgic yet somewhat new. You will especially feel relaxed when you hear the music in the town and in your shop. You will understand what I’m trying to say here.
Overall, the game is fun. It offers hours of gameplay. But the dungeon crawling can get a little bit boring after a couple of hours, especially if you keep failing. Although the dungeons are randomly generated, in the end you will just want to take a break and continue later. And this, in my honest opinion, is the best part about this game. You will not want to finish this game in one day. You should come back to relax for a couple of hours.
With beautiful visuals, musics, sound effects and simple yet fun mechanics, this game deserves your attention. However, if you are not sure about playing a linear game, you might want to look somewhere else. But especially with the cheap price, I can easily say that you should give it a try. If you are interested, you can get it on Steam now.
- Beautiful visuals
- Beautiful sound effects and music
- Simple combat and management mechanics
- Perfect for relaxing
- Cheap price
- Somewhat repetitive gameplay
- Long dialogue screens can be annoying
- Short gameplay
Moonlighter was reviewed using the Steam key provided by the publisher.