Moonlighter is this incredibly charming and engaging action RPG with rogue-lite elements that’s netted some fairly high reviews and lots of praise. This title was developed by Digital Sun and published by 11 bit studios. You play as Will, the proprietor of a shop known as Moonlighter, which is in a charming little hamlet that was built due to the discovery of five ancient gates during a long-passed archaeological excavation. Will dream’s of being an explorer rather than a shopkeeper, and he longs to find out what is behind the unopened fifth gate. He has a responsibility to his shop and the towns people of Rynoka which keeps him from delving too deep into this unsolved mystery.
Will traverses the first of the five dungeons, looking for things to sell in his shop to explorers and heroes that have the coin. There’s a lot of interesting mechanics at play here, and every time I thought to myself “Hm, this would be an interesting add-on”, I found it later after upgrading something or just moving through the story, they put a lot into this game, and it really shows. The combat is challenging and also rewarding, especially when you’re fighting new enemy types and learning their move sets. You have five different weapons to choose from, each which have a slightly different play style, from the mobile claws to the ranged bow. Figure out if you want to get in close or keep your distance. The dungeons are a serious of rooms that are randomly put together, which is part of the rogue-lite elements, along with the fact that when you die you lose your progress in said dungeon. The inventory system is fairly unique, as it seems the rarer of an item it is, it has special parameters to fit into your inventory, like some items can only be on the top of bottom of your bag, other items will delete an item on a certain side touching said item, it leads to a lot of interesting decision making on what you’d like to bring back with you to sell. Though this can get a little repetitive at times, since it turns into a grind of fight, loot, sell to get you where you need to be.
Once you teleport back to town, it’s time to sleep and set up shop. Since you’re the shop keep you put the items out, and decide their prices. When doing this you need to pay attention to the customer reactions, as they tell you if you’re prices are too high or low, you also need to watch the popularity of items, as they won’t sell as well if you over sell one kind of an item. You can also buy upgrades to the store such as more counter space, and the ability to add items to help you’re store out, such as a tip jar. Along with shop upgrades, you can also make upgrades to the town by investing your hard earned gold into other shops to help them open, which in turn adds new things for you to do. If you invest in the blacksmith, you’re able to upgrade and buy new weapons and armor, if you invest in the Wooden Hat, you can enchant weapons and armor, as well as make potions that heal you or lend a helping hand finding your way through the perilous dungeons.
The look of this game is gorgeous, I’m a fan of pixel art to begin with, but it’s done so well in this game. Everything has a unique look to it, from the monsters to the town of Rynoka. Each dungeon is done in a different theme which keeps everything from feeling stale. The cutscenes are done in pictures, but still have a sense of wonder to them and didn’t feel boring at all. I really enjoyed the look and feel of Moonlighter.
I really enjoyed playing this game, even though it can get repetitive, and there isn’t a whole lot to the character upgrade systems, I’d definitely still recommend picking this game up, just maybe on sale. It’s a unique experience that if you like rogue-lites and rpg elements, you’ll really enjoy it. Moonlighter is one of those games that after playing you’re just left wanting to tell people about, and I know that’s one of the first things that I did after playing it. You can get it for a retail price of $20 on PC (Steam), Xbox One, or PlayStation 4!
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