Charming… If I had to use one word to describe Moonlighter that would be it. Moonlighter has a lot going for it but the word charming sums it up best. Moonlighter takes a bit of old and marries it with an incredibly fresh idea. The game takes place in a small village where several gates have opened that lead to an ever-changing dungeon. The village thrived for a long time but has almost all but dried up except for one shop.
That shop is called Moonlighter and you play as Will the owner. During the day you tend to your shop by selling goods and you determine what items you will see and what keep for yourself. More importantly you set your own prices. The game doesn’t give you any hints at the value of an item until you attempt to sell it. Customers will make a sad face and snub their nose at it if the item overpriced or they’ll get excited and make a happy face if it’s a good deal. The beauty of the game is trying to find the sweet spot of keeping the customers coming back happy and making a living with your wares. It sounds difficult but you catch on pretty quickly. To be honest, I found myself enjoying this quite a bit more than I thought I would. It’s a nice take on a classic genre.
Now this isn’t totally a shopkeeper simulation. You need items to sell and they have to come from somewhere. This is where the meat and potatoes of the game comes in. At night Will ventures into the dungeons to slay monsters to gain treasures to sell at Moonlighter the next day. The dungeon is procedurally generated and is a different experience every time. Death is not permanent like most rogue types; nevertheless, you will lose all your treasures in the event you do die. Once you’ve filled your bag with all you can carry you’ll have the option to try to advance further into the dungeon or take your goodies and leave. Leaving the dungeon early does cost gold but it guarantees that you keep your hard-earned goods. The game has a very old school Zelda feel but blends the best elements of the Binding of Issiac. Combat is responsive and you always want to push just a little more which can lead to an early demise if you don’t play it careful.
I have to say, I really enjoyed my time with Moonlighter. The art style was beautiful and definitely felt like a merger of new and old schools blended together. The concept of running your shop during the day was such a unique idea and I’d like to see more developer’s try a similar approach in the future. I reviewed the Xbox One version which shouldn’t differ too much from system; however, during my play through, I couldn’t help but feel that this game would feel more at home in the Switch. Regardless of your console of choice, this gem is a good time. It is gleaming with nostalgia while all of the while feeling fresh this game is definitely worth checking out.
8 out of 10