Moonlighter Review -Another Shop Management & Dungeon Crawling Game

Moonlighter Review

Moonlighter theme is similar to one of the games I’ve reviewed in the past. The game is called Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, one of the first few game titles I reviewed when I started to do game reviewing. There is some similar theme they used in making their game, such as dungeon crawling, shop management, and item crafting. The difference? Is its execution.

You play as a young merchant named Will. He is the owner of a shop called Moonlighter. It’s a humble little shop in a down on one’s luck village called Rynoka. You’re the hope of your village, hoping that one day you will rejuvenate and bring prosperity to it. And to do so, you must venture into the dungeons located at the edge of town.

The village leader warned you about the perils that lie within the dungeon and the fools that went ahead, only to never return. But how else are you going to stock up on your shop inventory. You’ve been stocking up on dust and it’s hardly a seller.

As you clear through the dungeon room by room, your bag will slowly be filled with loot. Be it from the monster drop or treasure chest. In general, the loot from the treasure chest has a higher monetary value compared to monster drop. But those said items are cursed, mostly. Placing those cursed loots into your inventory bag is like playing a mini-game. As those cursed item effects the position of where you’re going to place them in your bag and it may affect the item next to it. Some can only be placed at the sides, at the top, or even destroy your other loot upon returning back to the village. And in the end, it’s about being selective about which loot to bring back and as many as you can.

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Moonlighter | Digital Sun

There are several ways to go back to town and being dead is one of the options. Sure it’s painful to the point of death, but the dungeon would throw you out before you actually die. Although it’s a free exit ticket, only the loot on the top row of your back will be brought back to town with you. The rest of the loot will be the loot drop for the dungeon. You won’t get those back by the way, as the dungeon layout changes every time you enter it. The next option is to activate an artifact by spending some gold in order to get out of the dungeon. And if you’re dirt poor, dying is the feasible option left.

The last option is to clear the dungeon itself. The dungeon is really short in this game, with only 4 floors to go through including the boss floor. It’s kill or be killed at this point. And if manage to do the former, congratulations to you. You’ve unlocked a new dungeon.

It’s time to make money from those loot. And when you lay those items for sale on the table, you have no idea the value of it. Or rather, you may feel that the value of this stick is 1,000 gold, but to the customers, it may only be worth 10. It’s all about trial and error at this point. Set it too high, the customer will weep. Set it too low, their eyes will shine like ladies seeing a massive shoe sale.

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Moonlighter | Digital Sun

I do enjoy these little antics. Not because of the lively atmosphere, the act of running back and forth to restock the table or adjusting the price after seeing the customer terrible expression (ehehehe). But finding the sweet price to set for each item before their face turns sour. And also being able to beat up thieves, especially those naughty kids. The duration of your shop opening for business is from morning till evening. You may go dungeon diving after that.

With the money you earn, you can invest in the village development. Allowing the opening of various shops such as blacksmith and a potion store. Or you can invest in your shop. Expanding the number of tables you have on display, and hiring a shop assistant. The shop assistant will help you sell your item during the day as you go off adventuring in the dungeon. But she will take 30% cut of the sales made then.

This daily routine of yours will repeat and when you have properly equipped yourself with enchanted gear and potions, may you defeat all the dungeon bosses and open the 5th and final dungeon.

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Moonlighter | Digital Sun

Personal Opinion

As tempting as it is to make a comparison between Moonlight and Recettear: An Item Shop Tale, I’ll do my best to not to do that. But for the record, I feel that the latter is superior in its execution and more enjoyable to play.

The story is pretty straightforward with an unsuspecting ending. The only NPC that you will have a sense of bond with is the elder. As he is the only one that truly cares about you and your reckless endeavours. All the other NPC feels rather one-dimensional with nothing of interest towards them.

The combat is smooth and its pixellated graphic during combat is nice to look at. As you are able to use different weapons, they’ve different attack moves. With a total of 5 different types of weapon, you may find one that suits you. And although I mention enchanted gears, it is nothing too fancy actually. It’s just improving the base stats of those equipment with no other fanciful attachment.

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Moonlighter | Digital Sun

There are a decent amount of enemy to fight and every dungeon have their own set that is unique to it. Except for the slime. It’s just of a different colour. The dungeon feels very short as there are only 4 levels to go through. And once you kill the boss, it doesn’t respawn. Knowing that, there isn’t much incentive to go back to a lower tier dungeon.

There aren’t many items to craft once you have set your preferred fighting style. Other than upgrading your current set to the next tier, there isn’t much reason to craft each and every item. As it isn’t worth the time and you won’t make much profit out of it. It’s more profitable to sell the materials required to make that item than to sell the crafted item.

If you’re hoping to get an in-depth level of economics from this game, you can’t. You can’t haggle the price item between the customers and you. You can’t buy any items from them and resell it. There’s no sudden popular demand for specific item types or a market crash of certain items that will affect its final price. And every single customer, young and old, has the same amount of spending power. You can only set the price of the item and accept a quest from the customer from time to time. In a sense, the shop management side of things is very simplistic.

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Moonlighter | Digital Sun

Once you cleared the final dungeon, that’s the end of the game. End of story. There’s no replayability value, besides aiming for a 100% achievement. You won’t be compelled to play the game again if you’re the kind that ignores 100% achievement. Expected hours of completing the game would be around 10-20hrs. And if you’re able to beat it under 10 hours, you will get an achievement for it. I know because I got it.

Conclusion

A decent dungeon crawling and a simple shop management game whose charm will be lost upon clearing all the dungeon. I would recommend playing Moonlighter before Recettear. And to those that already played Recettear before, do lower your expectation for this game. Cause if you don’t, you may end up disappointed.


Platform: PC (Windows, Mac Os X), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Developer: Digital Sun
Rating: Good (70 out of 100)
Hours Played: 14.4hrs


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