Have you ever played a dungeon exploring roguelite game and thought “Damn, I really wish I was a store manager right now”? No ? Well, Moonlighter will make you live that life anyway, so be ready for an exciting adventure full of mysterious dungeons, monsters, and even more terrifying, sales. After a not so enjoyable tutorial, the player quickly understands that Moonlighter applies all the codes of a classic roguelite: Permadeath, random elements and gear upgrades. But Digital Sun went the extra mile and implemented a whole new aspect to their game: On top of dungeon exploration and monster slaying that happens during the night, the player will also have to manage their own store and sell gathered resources and goods during the day.
There is a total of 4 varied dungeons in the game. Each of them having a different ambience, both graphically and sonically. As Will, our hero, progresses in the game, he’ll be able to go deeper in these dungeons and loot more chests. You might think that collecting the items once the monsters are defeated will be the easiest part of the game, but it’s not. Moonlighter made inventory management a real challenge, because items all have different properties: for example some have to be placed at the bottom of the inventory grid, and some might destroy other items if placed next to each other. Whether it is in combat or in sales, the game can be a good, stimulating and satisfying challenge.
Artistically, it’s a success. As I always say, pixel art is extremely hit or miss. It either comes off as beautiful or lazy, and Moonlighter is absolutely beautiful. The art direction is great, the buildings, characters and monster are all very well designed. But what I liked the most is how colorful the game is. The pastel, very warm color palette of the village is a direct contrast with the darker shades of the dungeons, but I was amazed at all times. The soundtrack always fit the context, calmer in the village, and faster in the dungeons, looking at this game and listening to it is a pleasure.
Unfortunately, just like every game, Moonlighter has its little flaws and imperfections. The most bothering one is that it’ll take around 15-20 hours to complete the game, and it’s just going to leave you demanding more of it. Bestiary lacks a bit of variation, some hitboxes are faulty, and I also wished that there was a little more storytelling.
To me, beyond the fighting and the shop keeping mechanics, Moonlighter is a game that you live. Filling your purse with that puzzle-like inventory system, understanding how the dungeons work and how they’re built, using all the possible upgrades available at the village; trying not to be scammed by the banker, and finding yourself smiling at the faces of your clients that become beloved regulars. I love this game, and despite the little flaws here and there, I recommend it to anyone looking to have a great time. Man, video games are beautiful.