Save The World Through Business
Moonlighter is an interesting concept for a dungeon crawling RPG. Most of the time in these types of role playing-adventures, you play as a hero on a quest which often leads you into life threatening dungeons and situations. Often on these dungeon runs you gain items which you use for future endeavors, or you just sell it to the shopkeep. However, in Moonlighter you play as the shopkeeper – sort of.
Moonlighter is the story of Will, a shopkeeper who dreams of being a hero. In this game you kill two birds with one stone by exploring dungeons for the sweet treasure at night. During the day you can stock the store with said loot, or use it to upgrade Will’s abilities and items to advance your heroic quest. I love this subversion of RPG tropes while still being an incredibly enjoyable RPG dungeon crawler. Moonlighter is a game all about management, risk and reward, and that sweet loot.
Into The Gates
Half of Moonlighter is a dungeon crawler, where you explore dangerous Gates. These Gates lead to different realms and dimensions where the dungeon crawling itself takes place. Each dungeon has randomly generated rooms and loot so that no run is the same. You will be faced with monsters, traps, and possible secrets when navigating through these rooms. This is your standard explore, fight, and loot affair found in many types of similar themed dungeon rompers. What sets Moonlighter’s dungeon crawling apart are the rogue-lite elements and how it ties into the shop management.
Loot is especially important in this type of game, because it directly ties into your progression and your success in future dungeons. The loot in this game ranges from crafting materials, health/mana restoration, and rare drops. If you die while in a dungeon you will lose most of the items in your inventory, save for a few items that you can allocate to make sure you don’t lose. So while it is important to grind making sure you’re careful is imperative if you don’t want to lose something valuable. And you will need these valuable items, not just for the direct effects and upgrade potential, but for your store.
Enchanted Artifact? Sell It.
Your store is where you sell the treasures from your adventures to gain the most important power of all – money. There’s an interesting sort of macroeconomic dynamic with the way you sell items. The value of certain items is not clear, so when selling items you have to gauge on their probable worth. After setting up the items you want to sell in your shop, customers will buy your items, and you can see their reactions. If an item is way too expensive or far below its value, you can tell by the customer’s expression when looking at items, and this information is good to keep note of in order to find that sweet spot of a selling price. These elements of finding out the value of items, picking what gets sold, and upgrading the store makes the shopkeeping aspect interesting and dynamic. However, at the same time it’s very streamlined and simplistic, meaning you don’t need a 101 course in Economics to adequately run the store.
You can make Will fit your playstyle through upgrades and weapon types. These upgrades and such are gained through the currency you make running your shop and materials you find in the dungeon. It creates this addicting core loop of dungeon running to gain valuable items and materials, which feeds into the shop management aspect of the title. On top of this you can invest money into the village your shop is located in, giving you more upgrades and resources for both Will and the store. It combines the core aspects of two different genres but in a palatable way where both compliment one another. The game is also very accessible in these aspects making sure that information is displayed as clean and simple as possible, while still maintaining depth.
Moonlighter combines a simple business management sim and a rogue-lite dungeon crawler into a charming pixel art package. I personally believe that the elements of both these genres, on top of it being very accessible, makes for a title that is worth looking into as more information comes out. Whether you dream of making a capitalist haven or being a world saving hero, Moonlighter is a game worth looking forward to.