Role-playing games offer a diverse range of perspectives by allowing you to embody various characters. Whether it’s being chosen as the destined hero or joining a group of unlikely allies for a shared mission, RPGs provide an immersive experience where you can explore different roles and identities. RPG protagonists often fall into several common categories. However, in some games, you may find yourself playing as a more uncommon type of protagonist. Moonlighter is a unique game that allows the player to experience the life of a shop owner. During the day, you manage your shop, serving customers and making sales. At night, you embark on adventures to collect valuable items for your shop’s inventory. This dual perspective offers a different gameplay experience than one would normally expect.
The Role You Play
You play as the latest descendant of the titular Moonlighter family: Will of Moonlighter. Your main objective is to successfully run and manage a shop within the town. This involves selling various items to other residents of the town. When the shop is open, you are responsible for managing inventory, setting prices effectively, and helping out customers with other needs. To gather these items, you can embark on adventures in the nearby dungeons. By defeating monsters and looting chests, you’ll discover treasures to can use to restock your store. The profits from selling your items can be wisely invested in various ways.
An intriguing phenomenon unfolded one fateful night. Mysterious mazes, filled with both captivating treasures and perilous creatures, known as Dungeons, suddenly materialized. The Dungeons attracted the attention of a curious group of people who decided to settle nearby, giving birth to a village called Rynoka. Within this community, two groups stood out: the Heroes and the Merchants. The Heroes sought glory, while the Merchants pursued riches. The dungeons in the town were initially exciting, but unfortunately, they turned out to be too perilous. Due to numerous casualties, they were eventually shut down. This hurt the town’s livelihood, particularly for young Will who owned the oldest shop called Moonlighter. Despite the hardships faced by the town, Will held on to his dream of unlocking the 5th door within the dungeons.
Moonlighter offers a gameplay experience that is divided into two distinct parts. The first part involves store management, where players can run their store in town. During the daytime, they have the opportunity to stock their shelves with a variety of items to attract and incentivize customers. You have the option to upgrade your weapons, purchase new armor, acquire upgrades for your shop, or even hire additional entrepreneurs to enhance the growth of your town.
At night, players have the opportunity to embark on dungeon exploration and gather valuable items. These items can serve multiple purposes, such as restocking your store or acting as building materials. The dungeons feature action RPG combat reminiscent of Zelda games, and the layout of each room is dynamically generated. This ensures that every time you enter a dungeon, you’ll encounter a unique arrangement and an exciting challenge.
Moonlighter boasts a total of just four dungeons for players to explore. After conquering one and defeating the boss, the next one becomes unlocked. However, once you progress forward, there is little motivation to go back and revisit previous areas. In Moonlighter, you’ll come across enemies that drop valuable loot, allowing you to unlock various upgrades for your town. This system pushes you to progress rapidly through the game. However, it’s worth noting that Moonlighter offers a relatively limited gameplay experience of about 15 hours at most.
The music in Moonlighter seems to lack that special something. It mostly fades into the background, creating a mediocre atmosphere that only somewhat complements the town and dungeons. The music in this game is far from exceptional, but it’s not terrible either – at least not initially. However, the repetition and the lack of variety set in quickly and listening to the same songs over and over becomes monotonous.
It is impossible to overlook the abundance of cursed items when collecting items from dungeons. Almost every object you come across will have some kind of curse attached to it. These backpack limitations can be quite frustrating as they dictate how you organize your items. Furthermore, the fragile nature of these items means that they easily break after taking a few hits. Additionally, some of these items have the ability to transform other items in your backpack, which can greatly affect your inventory management strategy. To make matters worse, when you return to town, certain items end up being destroyed completely. It overcomplicates the process of collecting loot, slows down the gameplay and makes the entire process less fun.
The Talking Parts
Dialogue in Moonlighter is not particularly abundant. However, what stands out is the way customers express their opinions on your shop’s items. When customers browse through your shop and show interest in a particular item, an emoticon will appear above their head to indicate their approval or disapproval. This unique feature adds a distinct interactive element to the game.
This specific emoticon can convey a wide range of emotions, from excitement to anger. The emotion it represents is determined by the price at which you list your items. To gauge customer satisfaction and align with demand, you may need to adjust your prices accordingly, raising or lowering them as needed.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
The game Moonlighter is excessively compartmentalized, with different sections for each dungeon level. Unlocking upgrades for your equipment is almost solely dependent on defeating the bosses in each dungeon and reaching the next one to be able to acquire new components. Each dungeon in the game comes with its own set of components required for upgrading each weapon and set of armor to the next level. However, what is highly concerning is the significant difference in cost between each stage. The lack of transitional steps between these stages further makes it even more problematic for players to progress smoothly.
Moonlighter has an interesting premise of putting the player in the role of a shopkeeper and hero but doesn’t do enough with it. It’s very repetitive and it often feels like you’re just doing the same thing over and over again. It’s filled with a lot of potential that it just does not live up to.