Review – Moonlighter
Moonlighter (available now on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One) might look like a knockoff of an old Legend of Zelda game, but it’s a surprisingly deep roguelite that stands on its own two feet thanks largely to its focus on gathering loot for an entirely unique reason.
As Will, gamers take on the rarely-depicted role of the adventurer-shopkeeper hybrid, venturing deep into increasingly more dangerous dungeons in search of loot that you’ll then price and sell to the townspeople. Set your prices too high and you’ll have trouble drumming up business but set them too low and you’re going to have a hard time earning enough money to rejuvenate the small town of Rynoka where you live.
Investing in the town is a key point of advancement, as cleaning things up will attract new shops, blacksmiths, and even enchanters able to improve your gear, so figuring out the right price for items is a key mechanic. There’s a customer reaction system where popups appear over customers heads when they look at the price an object is listed at, but it’s simplistic ‘angry/sad/happy/elated’ reactions – and it can be hard to tell if the person was unhappy because the item was overpriced or if it simply wasn’t something they were looking for.
In a nice bit of gameplay freedom, Moonlighter doesn’t force gamers to progress through the five dungeons that make up the storyline side of things. If you’d prefer to simply farm a few things from the start of the first dungeon and then go sell them for a tidy profit, that’s entirely up to you. It’s a bit like the freedom found in the Elder Scrolls games, only with an 8-bit coat of paint.
Dungeon layouts are simplistic, but also generated on the fly every time you enter so there’s always something new (or new-ish) to see. If you want to get truly rare items, you’ll have to venture deeper into the dungeons, but keep in mind this is a roguelite so death means losing most – if not all – of your items.
Unfortunately having that penalty for death highlights issues with parts of the combat, particularly the way sword swings will sometimes pull you into harm’s way. Ranged weapons don’t suffer from this issue, so feel free to let loose your inner Robin Hood.