Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Mac, Linux
Rating: E for Everyone 10+
There are hundreds of rogue-like dungeon crawlers that come out nowadays, so making something that stands out among them be-comes more difficult with each passing year. Moonlighter aims to separate itself from the other games of its type by adding the concept of running a shop alongside exploring dungeons. Though it falters a bit toward the end, Spanish developer Digital Sun still succeeded in mak-ing a very enjoyable experience.
The player is a shopkeeper named Will who seeks to expand his horizons by exploring the dungeons nearby his town. He is guided by his mentor Zenon who teaches him the ways of dungeon exploration. Sadly, the story never really deviates from this fairly standard guideline until the very end with little investment being placed into Will’s journey besides just wanting to finish the game.
The game’s greatest aspect lies within its gorgeous aesthetics. The game is pristinely polished with beautiful pixel art, smooth animations, and a luscious color palette. The heads-up display makes everything clear for players to understand. The residents of the village even have little bits of dialogue that serve to give them bits of personality.
The aesthetics also carry over to the game’s dungeons. Although the dungeons are procedurally generated, they still contain a sense of individuality when they’re explored. The enemies come in multiple varieties that will change depending on the type of dungeon you enter. Enemies can be slain with five different types of weapons: sword and shield, great swords, spears, bows, and gloves. Two types can be brought into a dungeon at a time and the satisfying combat allows for different ways of approaching and defeating enemies. The loot that enemies drop is organized through a limited inventory that forces players to make hard decisions about what they really need for the next dungeon run.
Unfortunately, the shop keeping side of the game isn’t nearly as well defined, although it starts with promise, but having you decipher how much to charge for specific items can be cumbersome. As soon as the pricing is set the shop keeping then becomes easy, so that you’ll have additional money by the midpoint of the game. Activities outside of the shop also tend to lack pur-pose. A local black-smith allows you to use materials found in dungeons to craft better weapons or improve your current weapons. The main problem is that these are usually so expensive, that holding out on just finding a new weapon is often a better solution. Further-more, there is a rival merchant who will sell you rare items for a steep price. His items lose their value near the midpoint of the game which weakens the supposed rivalry with the main character.
Despite these grievances, Moon-lighter was a very fun game to play. The appealing art, solid combat and fun dungeon exploration kept me playing for the 10 hours needed to finish this game. The weak shop keeping and crafting hamper the experience toward the midpoint of the game, but the overall package is one that should be bought by anyone looking for a new rogue-like game to discover.