If you’re a fan of roguelite dungeon delving, but also enjoy the calm and serenity that games such as Stardew Valley provide, then have I got the game for you! Moonlighter blends these styles and genres into a charming, beautifully crafted adventure that put your merchant skills and economy adaptation to the test by running a shop in a small village. When you’re not working for your shop, you will be running off to procedural dungeons of increasing difficulty to find evermore rare artifacts to sell. Earn your fortune and craft better gear on your journey to become the best merchant and adventurer around.
With a simple and charming opening, you are dropped straight into your own devices: begin travelling to and from the dungeons as you please, and take time out to open your store when you can. Once you've earned a bit of gold and depleted your stock levels, head back out with better gear to progress further and further into the dungeons. Initially, you have access to only one dungeon, and you will have to complete each one and defeat the bosses to open the next. There are five dungeons in total, all of which offer their own unique artifacts, styles, enemies, and procedural variety. Earning lots of gold isn't easy, however, as the most common items you find will be the cheapest to sell, and will only decrease in value as you flood the market with their presence. Watch the economy, and adapt to demand smartly to make sure you're efficient in your earnings.
You possess an automatically updating journal, that will note down each item you find in the game, and what sort of price it is worth. To find prices, you will have to take part in a bit of trial and error. Advertise an item for 300 Gold, and a customer may think it is overpriced, so you’ll know that you need to lower the cost. Similarly, they might snatch it up because it's so cheap, and then you know you can increase the price for that item in the future. As mentioned, flooding the market will affect demand, so it’s something to keep in mind as you go about your daily business.
Now, don't worry, the game isn't just a procedural grind for gold. Other shops will keeping progression interesting. Throughout the game, you will be able to make investments for the town, adding various merchants and services to assist you along your journeys. Early on, it's a smart idea to invest into a blacksmith for the town you can then use by providing gold and materials to craft better gear for yourself. The same goes for the potions shop to get various elixirs to keep you alive on your ever-increasingly dangerous dungeon delves.
Speaking of them, the dungeons never feel like a chore. I loved running off to them, and fighting my way through each room to find more gear and progress further. The variation is vast enough to keep the experience interesting. As such, the combat is simple but fun, using a very simple attack, block and dodge system that’s reminiscent of games such as Enter the Gungeon.
You'll also have inventory management to keep tabs on, as some items can't just be chucked into your backpack and be forgotten. When looting treasure chests, you'll commonly find items with curses on them. Some of them may just limit where the item can be stored within your inventory, but they can also have a little more impact. For example, some items may destroy another item in the indicated direction in your inventory, while other items may remain unknown until returning to town. This risk/reward management is a fantastic way to keep your adventures interesting, making you think and consider each item you want to bring back.
In addition to the vast amount of features and variety, you also will the game enjoyable to look at. The pixel art is very detailed, and uses a very strong and wide color palette. Excellent animations ensure that there’s no shortage of charm or personality in the adventure. The music is calm and peaceful while you run your shop and explore the town, but get more intense and epic when delving ever deeper into danger. All of this pieces together a heartfelt journey.
Moonlighter is a fantastic and unique adventure that can be played for either five minutes or five hours at a time. The gameplay works significantly well on the Nintendo Switch, making it a perfect pick-up-and-play game. Whether you just want the simple serenity of running your own shop, or the big adventure of beating each dungeon, you will find a great time with Moonlighter. You should definitely invest your gold into this title.