Moonlighter is an Action RPG with rogue-lite elements that demonstrates two sides of the coin – revealing everyday routines of Will, an adventurous shopkeeper that secretly dreams of becoming a hero. Dulcet tones and somber notes played in time represent the curious duality of Moonlight. It is, at once, a heroic adventure and the name of the subdued storefront that you alone run. Centered in the heart of a once-bustling town, all the greats, the audacious plunderers of dungeons that were sealed long ago, have died out. The markets and the merchants of your hamlet have all but vanished alongside them. Always looking to the horizon, you see what could be–in both yourself and the town–and set out to claim your glory and bring riches back from the depths of dangerous dungeons.

Now this isn’t totally a shopkeeper simulation. You need items to sell and they have to come from somewhere. This is where the meat and potatoes of the game comes in. At night Will ventures into the dungeons to slay monsters to gain treasures to sell at Moonlighter the next day. The dungeon is procedurally generated and is a different experience every time. Death is not permanent like most rogue types; nevertheless, you will lose all your treasures in the event you do die. Once you’ve filled your bag with all you can carry you’ll have the option to try to advance further into the dungeon or take your goodies and leave. Leaving the dungeon early does cost gold but it guarantees that you keep your hard-earned goods. The game has a very old school Zelda feel but blends the best elements of the Binding of Issiac. Combat is responsive and you always want to push just a little more which can lead to an early demise if you don’t play it careful.

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Moonlighter is meant to be completed and set aside, not mastered and repeated like other, harsher roguelikes. Neither of its activities, the dungeon diving or shop management, are as complex or harrowing as other examples of either game type. I expect some will see this as a shortcoming.
  • Balancing the needs of your shop and dungeon crawling is surprisingly fun
  • Watching your town grown alongside you as an adventurer creates a powerful thematic thread
  • Little depth to the world and mechanics
  • Repetitive combat
Gameplay - 7
Graphics - 8
Audio - 8
Longevity - 7

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