Moonlight your way into this beauty!
Ever wanted to run your own shop? Ever wanted to loot mysterious dungeons? Dreamed about doing both at once? Well you’re in luck, welcome to our Moonlighter review.
Moonlighter is a gorgeous pixel style game, in which you play the role of Will, the shopkeeper who moonlights as a dungeon explorer. You start off the game talking to an old man called Zenon, who tells you a tale about your grandfather. He says that your relative used to run the shop that you are about to take charge of. He also warns you about the dungeons and not to go exploring them too deeply. This advice of course, you ignore.
The basic premise of the game is that by night you run around the dungeons killing things and collecting loot from their bodies. The hope is that you escape the dungeon alive and manage to make it back to the shop. This is so you can sell everything you’ve found. If you aren’t lucky enough to escape alive and you die in the dungeon, you drop everything you are carrying except for those in the top five slots in your bag. Be careful out there.
This wonderfully addicting game play loop, is present throughout the entire game. With each advancing dungeon, the things you sell are more and more valuable. You find yourself striving to earn more and more money with each trip. What do you do once you’ve earned all this copious amounts of money I hear you ask? As it turns out there are a number of things you can buy.
With the money you earn from your plunder, you have a number of options. In the centre of Rynoka (the name of the village) there is a notice board where you can purchase upgrades to your shop and to the town. The town upgrades take the form of purchasing extra shops, there are 5 to buy in total. These include; shops to upgrade your equipment, a banker, an accessory shop and a retailer where you can buy all the things you come across in the dungeon (at extortionate prices).
You can upgrade the size of your shop to give you extra selling space. There are also upgrades to your bed. These will give you extra protection whereas till upgrades, force your customers to tip with every purchase. There are other upgrades you can discover on your own.
When you’ve finished selling everything, the main two shops you will visit are the Vulcan’s Forge & The Wooden Hat. The former will allow you to buy more powerful weapons and armour, provided you have the necessary ingredients and coin. The latter will allow you to enchant your weapons and armour to improve them, you can also buy a large selection of potions here.
Whilst at either of these two shops, you may find there is something that you want, but don’t have the required ingredients. This is where the fantastic system of the wish list something comes in. You add something to your wish list, then when out gallivanting in the dungeon, if you find one of the requisite components, then game will favourite it, allowing you to make sure it is safe, should you die and lose everything.
There are five dungeons of increasing difficulty in the game. These are: Golem, Forest, Desert, Tech & Unknown. Once you’ve beaten the final boss in each dungeon, the next one will open up to you.
Each dungeon comprises of three levels. There are a variety of rooms on each floor, with lots of monsters within. On every level however you will always find a room with a healing pool in it and you will also find a room with no monsters in it at all. This room has a book which contains most of the games lore in it. In the early levels this is also where you will find some upgrades such as the Merchant Pendant & the Merchant Emblem. Incidentally the music in this room is beautiful.
The Merchant Pendant allows you to teleport home. Whilst the Emblem will allow you to teleport home and gives you a portal to return to where you left off. Use of both of these will cost you some gold, however the Emblem costs considerably more. You will have to keep in mind the value of the items you are carrying and make sure that it will cover the cost of the Emblem’s use.
Chests of Goodness
Some rooms contain chests, which will open once you’ve defeated every monster within that room. These chests have a chance to contain some of the rarer items of that dungeon. At the end of each of the first two levels there is a mini boss, some of these can be quite a challenge, but they will always provide an explosion of loot when defeated as well as passage down to the next level.
The monsters on levels two and three have a higher chance to be the more difficult variety of that dungeons monster repertoire. There is quite a wide variety of monsters in each dungeon to keep the challenge fresh.
To help you in your dungeon exploring duties you can enlist a familiar. These are a miniaturised version of a particular monster in one of the dungeons which you unlock by killing ten of the thing it is based on. Some familiars will fight alongside you, whilst others perform other duties such as healing you. It’s a lot of fun watching it bounce along behind you.
Sometimes within the dungeons there are mini portals to a room from another dungeon. These give you a glimpse of the challenge ahead, whilst also providing you with some valuable items ahead of time.
You have a wide variety of weapons to choose from to do your killing. You can explore these in the Vulcan’s Forge.
Running the shop
When you sell things in your shop, you set your own prices for the items. This is a fun system and will have you working out what the most you can get from an item is, whilst also trying not to give things away too cheaply. The popularity of an item will also affect its sale price. You may be able to get more for something which is high in demand, but sometimes struggle to sell something unpopular.
All the information regarding people reactions to prices and the popularity of the items is stored in your notebook, don’t worry you don’t have to remember it all.
Sometimes customers will come into the shop with top hats in their thought bubbles. These are rich customers and they will usually happily pay over the odds for an item, just because they can. Other times people will come into your shop with a thieves balaclava in their thought bubble. Watch out for these as they will attempt to steal your things, unless you tackle them before they escape.
Once you’ve started to upgrade your shop you can place accessories around which can do a multitude of things. These can increase the amount of tip that customers pay, make the customers walk faster around the shop, decrease the likelihood of thieves and many other things. You can buy these from the accessory shop, once you’ve upgraded the town to include it.
As the size of your shop increases to the third level you can pay your new assistant to run the shop for you so you can stay in the dungeon permanently, this will cost you 30% of your takings. They can also assist with thieves although only if they happen to be close to them at the time.
In conclusion, the two main systems in this game as described above are so much fun. The combat is quick and intuitive. The buzz you get with each sale in the shop is quite addicting, especially as you start to sell things for more and more money. The game is simple enough to pick up and exciting enough to keep going back for more. In our opinions it’s one of the finest indie games on the system.
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