Moonlighter is more than just another RPG with pixelated graphics. It’s a top down isometric adventure with an enjoyable narrative paired with a driving and addictive plot point. This charming action game borrows elements from other highly enjoyable titles such as Stardew Valley, Zelda and at times even the elusive Dark Souls games.
Our protagonist and playable character is a humble shopkeeper in the dilapidated town of Rynoka known as Will. During the day Will slaves away behind the counter selling produce to earn a profit but once night falls Will, equipped with a broom takes to the monster ridden dungeons to collect treasures and live out his dreams of becoming a hero.
Initially the main component of the game appears to be nothing more than an endless cycle fuelled by grinding for trinkets to sell for a profit. But as the hours peel away this mechanic becomes addictive as you attempt to create a thriving town and delve deeper into the mysterious caves that house each dungeon. The variety of items you’ll gather ranges from twigs to crystallised orbs and Will must price them accordingly in order to create customer satisfaction and make a margin in his store. If certain items are too high then customers won’t buy them and if they’re low in price Will’s income will suffer. Because the entire narrative of Moonlighter revolves around making money, buying better weapons and repeating this process it’s of high importance that you keep an eye on your business and fighting ventures.
Moonlighter houses five dungeons with increasing difficulty and with numerous rooms, intimidating boss battles and endless amounts of enemies these caves feel as though they’ve been plucked straight from a Zelda game. Your first venture into these lairs leave you only protected by a broom, but continuous mining and crafting allows for better tools, more health potions and tools to help you escape the dungeons alive and fight its inhabitants with more ease and enjoyment.
If you have money left over from your earnings Will can use his income to fund new businesses in town, replenishing the run-down village of Rynoka and increasing his own chances of success in each dungeon by hiring potion makers and blacksmiths to forge better weapons. This continuous cycle fuels the game creating an delightful atmosphere fuelled by a grind for better items in exchange for better weapons.
Moonlighter does have downsides but thankfully they’re minimal. Strict restrictions are in place with backpack storage which means you have to be tactful with item collection once inside the dungeons. The other negative is that the formula at times is too strict, and some players may find themselves unable to beat a boss without the proper upgrade material and therefore get lost in an endless loop of frustration in the more dangerous levels in each cave.
Graphics are the main standout feature of indie game and the games unique visual style leaves a strong impression on the player. The narrative whilst simplistic is endearing and the concept stands out as memorable and unique, Moonlighter is a intriguing and clever approach at the action adventure genre and one which will have no trouble standing out.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*