At it’s core, Moonlighter is a procedurally generated dungeon crawler. However, when you really get down to it, it is much more than that. It addition to repeated dungeon dives, it involves gathering goods to sell in your shop. The mercantile aspect adds a layer to this top-down adventure game that breaks up the monotony that is often found in other games of the genre.
Running a store by day.
The shop running in Moonlighter is both important and fun. The importance is that the items you gather from dungeons can either be used to upgrade your gear, or to be sold. Both the goods and coins are required to obtain and upgrade your gear so you can’t sell or keep all of the spoils from dungeoneering. It requires a good balance of the two. The shopping can be quite fun and has a good deal of depth to it. You set the price on items and place them on tables. Once you open the shop, you have to watch the reactions of customers to gauge whether or not you have set your prices right. Just because a customer buys an item doesn’t mean the price isn’t too high. If the demand isn’t there for a slightly over priced item, it won’t get bought. You also have to keep an eye out for potential thieves.
Upgrade your shop and help bring other shops to the village.
You can make several upgrades to your shop. These are important as they allow you to sell more goods the bigger the shop is. Eventually you can hire an assistant to do one of two things for you. The assistant can help you prevent would be thieves from making off with your hard earned loot. They can also run your shop during the day so you can go into dungeons more. You can also help more shops open in the village. Don’t worry though, they aren’t competitors. Rather they help you by crafting new gear or enchanting your items. The upgrading process isn’t tedious thankfully as there aren’t too many to make.
Exploring dungeons by night.
There are five dungeons in Moonlighter. Each with increasing difficulty from the previous one. They are all laid out in three floors with a boss fight coming at the end. The enemies increase in health and damage output with each successive floor and dungeon. With the exception of the bosses, none of the enemies are that difficult. What makes the dungeons hard is balancing limited health and healing and the need to fill your backpack with items to sell. I often pushed things a bit too far by getting greedy,
Entering a dungeon is dangerous work… do so at your own risk.
The repeated trips to each dungeon to load up on provisions make combat in Moonlighter tedious. I found myself making several trips to load up on gear so I could hawk them and upgrade my gear. It became a cycle that was there to perpetuate itself. It is it the biggest issue I had with this otherwise fun game. If you are good at dodging enemies, you may be able to get away with less upgrading than I needed. The battling was fun, but it wore out it’s charm when it became a chore.
Overall, Moonlighter is a fun game. The shop keeping is what I found myself looking forward to the most. The combat and dungeon diving grew monotonous fast. What really made Moonlighter charming is the art style. The cartoonish graphics filled the void that the lack of a top-down Zelda game has left. It is a whimsical game that is overall fun in short doses. I played it on the PlayStation 4 which it looked great on, but if you have the option to get it on the Switch I recommend it. For good graphics, unique gameplay in running the shop and despite tedious combat, I give Moonlighter a 3.75/5.