Moonlighter is one of the cutest action RPGs that I’ve seen in a long time. The game reminds me heavily of Harvest Moon, Legend of Zelda, and other games that require you to not only manage a shop or town, but also withstand and hold your ground in a dungeon of baddies.
If you’re unfamiliar with Moonlighter, it’s a new indie action RPG developed by Digital Sun, that puts you in the shoes of a shopkeeper (name Will) in a village called Rynoka. Though Will manages the shop called Moonlighter, he also must venture into the dangerous dungeons near the town, and sell the artifacts he gets from them in his shop. This means that the game is multi facet, where you have to find a balance between selling items and getting revenue to improve Rynoka, and also balance your combat abilities with armor and weapons.
Starting the Game
This top-down game gives you many opportunities to hone your craft of being a merchant and a hero by guiding you through starting in the beginning. Moonlighter opens immediately with our hero Will in a dungeon, and although he gets over-run by enemies, he is saved. From there we are taken to his shop Moonlighter, where Zenon gives the player some guidance on the knowledge of value and demand, and how townsfolk buying products will give you a reaction based on the price.
While Zenon is very knowledgeable in the shop, he is also familiar with the dungeon and attempts to persuade Will to stay out of them, but also respects Will’s determines and provides him with a weapon, and a well-known Zelda phrase.
Rynoka and Dungeons
Moonlighter has a few key aspects to the game that make it unique, but also filled with a lovely sense of nostalgia. For instance, the dungeons are more dangerous at night, but selling products in the shop takes all day; therefore the player must occasionally choose between a more difficult fight or losing out on revenue. And while the game does have a health bar, there is no stamina or energy; therefore you could stay in a dungeon as long as you want to finish it so long as your health is fine.
While the goal of the game is to finish the dungeons by getting the keys from the Guardians and selling products in Moonlighter, you are also able to bring new shops to the town by investing money at the town board. This revitalizes the town, and gives more gear and potion options for further dungoneering. With this, also brings another element of the game that must be balanced, and that is using the artifacts from enemies in the dungeon for crafting recipes such as armor, health potions, and weapons.
The dungeons are by far one of the most interesting parts, because while they are randomly generated, the dungeons also provide chests, healing ponds, and journals from other adventurers who were unable to make it out of the dungeon. New knowledge of the dungeon’s Guardians and enemies can be gained through reading the books, and this helps the game progress further.
Though it’s very straight-forward in how you can put items up for sale in Moonlighter, the process of getting the items to the correct price can be difficult. Not only does this take trial and error from seeing the townsfolk reactions, but if you undercut yourself too much you lose profit, and over charging results in an artifact not being sold. After trial and error, the menu in Moonlighter has a section to see Selling and Reactions of previous selling prices to gauge where customers were buying products.
Once you select a price for a particular artifact, the game will automatically remember it the next time you place it down to sell. This is one of the best features I found, simply because if you forget the price the game remembers it for you. Coupled with the Selling and Reactions section of the menu, this makes selling artifacts much easier.
The combat in Moonlighter is what you’d expect from any RPG. The weapon type changes how Will performs attacks, from slashes with swords to heavy attacks where he charges with spear-like weapons. The player is also able to block enemy attacks with a shield, or roll out of the way and dodge. This is useful for getting behind certain types of enemies or scathing past a close call. With the top-down view, it has a very Zelda-esque feel to the game, and gives you a combat sensation that is very nostalgic.
Moonlighter has some of the most relaxing music I’ve ever heard in a video game. It reminds me heavily of the calming Stardew Valley music. Below I have put some of the soundtrack’s that are most enjoyable, including Moonlighter, Village of Rynoka, Will’s Theme, Forbidden Steps, and The Heroic Merchant.
Aside from the Moonlighter menu for selling artifacts, the game also has a section for seeing your inventory, and a quick description of different items that you find. This is VERY handy, simply because there are so many artifacts and it’s impossible to keep track of everything. From here, you can also see the different ‘special’ items that you get, including a mirror that turns artifacts into money, and a pendant that can teleport you outside of the dungeon.
My Final Thoughts
I really find Moonlighter to be a game that has a bit if everything for everybody. You get the combat, shop management, town building, and crafting all inside a cute game that has fantastic animations, soundtrack, and controls. Instead of a game being solely focused on the combat or management, this one puts it all together in a harmony
You can play Moonlighter on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and soon on the Nintendo Switch! Get yours hands on it now for $20 USD and enjoy.