Moonlighter by Digital Sun Studios is a game of two halves. One half you run a shop filled with rare items and manage pricing of these items depending on your customers reactions and the other half is a rogue lite dungeon crawler where you scavenge for rare items to sell in your little village store called Moonlighter.
Okay so in the way of story its pretty straight forward, you are the last in the line of a family of shopkeepers and you must risk your life venturing into one of four mysterious dungeons looking for loot to sell to your very fussy customers. You use the funds earned from your nightly escapades to upgrade your shop, build new weapons and armour and invest in new business opportunities bringing more businesses to your town. Once you have cleared the four randomly generated dungeons and killed their bosses you will retrieve the key to the never before explored fifth dungeon.
The art style is superb with gorgeous animation and its pixel art design. The enemies are varied enough but some are uninspired. Bosses, the bosses are varied, unique and with the risk of losing all of your loot upon death make you think about the risk vs reward element of the game that makes Moonlighter so unique.
The five dungeons are well designed and every time you leave your dungeon either by using your magical pendant that spawns a portal or through death the dungeon changes so no two scavenges are the same and with each one the difficulty increases.
Combat is intentionally clunky, similar to the original Legend of Zelda. There are a fair selection of weapon styles, Sword and shield, two handed sword, bow and arrow and spear. Each weapon can be upgraded for more damage or with a elemental effect (Fire or Electric) and your armour can be upgraded for better protection against the many foes you will encounter on your adventures.
One unique and interesting mechanic the game has is if you linger in a dungeon to long you will see a new icon on your HUD, a blinking eye with a meter that is slowly filling. Once the mater fills a giant green ghost will start to chase you and if he catches you he kills you in one hit. The green monster adds urgency to what is already a dangerous scavenging hunt and adds a new dimension to the game.
So now you have plundered as much loot as you can carry you must now try to sell it through your shop. Managing your store you will have to decide what to sell and the pricing accordingly, learning to judge what certain customers want and the price they are willing to pay for your wares or stopping the many shoplifters trying to rip you off. You can use your profits to invest in your shop and install display cases, hire a employee to give you more time to dungeon crawl and even upgrade your bed for a health boost. You can also invest in new businesses and bring more vendors to your town including a blacksmith who will upgrade your items and a witch who will enchant your weapon.
During the 15 or so hours it takes to complete Moonlighter you will learn to manage a thriving business, build relationships with your fellow merchants and battle through dozens of enemy filled rooms on your quest for the key to unlock the fifth dungeon. It has a brilliant soundtrack capturing the mood of the game perfectly. The dungeon crawling can become repetitive after a while and if the shop management isn’t for you then your going to struggle to get through the game but if you like games like Harvest Moon, Legend Of Zelda (NES), Enter The Gungeon and The Binding Of Isaac then I am sure you will find something to love about this pleasant little game.
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- Overall - 8.0/108/10
Digital Sun Games have crafted a unique and beautifully presented game in Moonlighter that is a joy to play even if the day/night cycles can become a little fatiguing.
With its delicate art style and enchanting soundtrack Moonlighter is a unique little game and I cannot wait to pick it up again on the Nintendo Switch later in the year.