Moonlighter-Review Moonlighter Review

   11/06/2018 at 12:03       Chris OToole       0 COMMENTS. - Score 5/5
 - RPG, Trading, Action, Xbox One, PS4

Review by Sam Gibson.

 

This a great game. It’s a fun game. It looks, sounds and plays nice. There’s a compelling two-tone dynamic that finds you playing for considerably longer than originally anticipated. It’s charming and easily learned while having a breadth that keeps supplying new things to chase, new things to do. 

It’s hot and sunny outside and I really want to head to the pool with my young daughter. You have the gist, the essentials of this game in your mind now; go buy it. Can I go now?

OK, if you insist, I’ll tell you some more about Moonlighter. You play Will, a 16-bit kind of guy living in a 16-bit kind of world. His wee village has fallen on hard times, but the dungeons tucked just around that screen are beckoning once more. Will owns a shop, the titular Moonlighter. While the life of a Merchant is safe, he yearns to be a Hero, to conquer the four dungeons and gain access to and defeat the mythical fifth dungeon. It doesn’t hurt that the dungeons are full of artifacts, curios and other things the patrons to his little shop have a keen interest in buying. 

As such, you guide Will into the dungeons. Starting with the Golem Dungeon, you and Will go beat up a variety of monsters, pick up any loot they drop, beat up some more, collect those goodies and onwards, till the meager space in Will’s backpack is full up and he must return to unload his bravely-gotten gains. If you die you get to keep five items on your person while all in the backpack is gone. The game quickly gives you options of returning safely and even teleporting out of the dungron, emptying the bags and coming back to where you left off. It takes the thrill of the Rogue-like and tempers its more sadistic totality to deliver a happy medium. The dungeons and the enemies are in tune with the 16- bit aesthetics. As such, Moonllghter’s dungeon crawling evokes wisps of 90’s nostalgia yet never succumbs to being defined by trying to rekindle a lost era. There’s stuff going on here which, while no example of emergent sandbox gameplay, for example, pushes the offerings beyond what you may expect from a simple look at the screenshots. Such as, how to organize and what to do with all that varied loot.

This is when the other aspect of Moonlighter comes into play. At the shop you put your goods up for sale and then open the doors to the public. Simple icons let you know if the original price you set is too high or too low. Adjust on the fly till those goods themselves fly off the shelves. Keep putting the loot on display; the other adventurers, mages and interested buyers will hand over their gold so it can be your gold. Once the shop is shut you can that new gold upgrading and enchanting your equipment from the other two vendors already in town. Gain enough gold – and reputation from defeating dungeons – and you can pay for other vendors to join the growing village. You’ll soon earn enough gold to upgrade Will’s shop, both in size and in its offerings. More shelf space, a better bed for better rest, decorations which affect the behavior of the patrons to the growing business. Even fetch missions become available. There’s always something new to lust after and achieve. Each upgrade and enhancement has a noticeable affect on your progress; no Sisyphean increasing of numbers only for them to be immediately matched by the numbers of your foes. You can go back to old dungeons to both feel god-like and make some easy money. Progress feels like progress. Moonlighter may look basic but it has made a lot of the correct design decisions. As a result, it puts the grind and drudgery of many modern whizz-bang games into stark relief.

It’s not perfect, of course. It can get kind of samey but in my experience, so can all games. It has some technical issues but, again in my experience, they are small in number and impact. They should be easily patched out. The loading times are longer than you would anticipate for such a compact game, but they are far from onerous. 

Look, I can see the sun outside and feel the water on my skin. I think I’ve given you all you need. Go get the game. I doubt this will be the only review an interested person will consult. If you weren’t interested before, surely you’ll confirm my opinions with others. If I’m not the first, I hope I’m the last. The world needs it heroes; buy Moonlighter to help Will and you fulfil that destiny. I know I’ll be going back after the pool, as the kid naps. My review may be done, but my time with this game is not.

Stars
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Better late than never, eh Ror?
 
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