If you’ve ever milled around a shop in an RPG and wondered where all the weapons and equipment comes from, Moonlighter gives you the answer in this unique take on the rogue-like dungeon crawler.
11 bit studios and Digital Sun’s game, originally out on PC in 2010, has you taking on dual roles, where you act as shopkeeper by day and crawling through dungeons trying to find items to restock your shop by night. Talk about burning the candle at both ends!
The isometric graphics provide an instant nod to old Zelda games as well as to the more modern resource management titles like the excellent Stardew Valley and Moonlighter takes quite a few ideas from both. While defeating enemies in your night-time excursions may seem the most fun in theory, running your shop, meeting people’s needs and trying to make as much money as possible, while getting new equipment, spells and weapons from the townsfolk is actually equally satisfying.
Dungeons start of easy but ramp up the difficulty as you crawl deeper. Grabbing a bow and arrow for the first time was certainly satisfying and allowed me a bit more of a breather but after a strange eye appeared in the corner of the screen everything went a little pear shaped. Learning from mistakes is, of course, the route of any rogue-like game and this game is no exception. Just when you think you’ve got things licked, something else comes along. Thieves steal your goods if you don’t keep a beady eye on your shop, spells can help with weaker armour when you’ve not got enough resources to get better stuff and pricing goods in your shop so people will actually buy them while you make a profit is almost a game in itself.
Then there’s your backpack which needs managing, some objects react badly when placed next to others, so there’s a puzzle element in getting them all in the right placement as well as stacking items quickly so you can get back to stuffing more in your bag.
In fact, the only downside to Moonlighter is that it won’t take long to trawl through the dungeons on offer and it feels less replayable than other rogue-likes. You can start to work out a pattern early on based on what sells well in your shop and then aim to go after these items as quickly as possible, using the resources that slowly make their way to your town to help rush through the various dungeons as fast as possible.
Moonlighter’s charm and love of the genre shines through, it’s less of a mocking glance at the dungeon crawler and more like a love letter to the genre with more resource management thrown in for good measure.