Roguelike role-playing games (RPGs) are a dime-a-dozen on the PC platform, so the unique premise of Moonlighter caught my eye. While you spend time exploring the typical procedurally-generated dungeons for loot and items, you also have the responsibility of maintaining and upgrading a shop between expeditions.
This is an interesting premise, but unfortunately, Moonlighter never truly reaches its potential. But the game is decent, and if you're looking for a fun time-waster, it could be for you.
The core gameplay loop of Moonlighter is this: you go into dungeons and fight through monsters to find valuable artifacts, and then return to your village to sell them at your shop the next day. Then, you use your money to upgrade both your shop and the arsenal of your character, Will, before going back into the dungeons and repeating the process.
It isn't bad — the randomness of the dungeons keeps things interesting — but ultimately, both aspects of the game feel shallow and unimpressive. Fighting monsters with an array of weapons and armor is cool, but all you're really doing is mashing the attack buttons without much thought. There's a bit more strategy involved when selling items in your shop, as you have to raise or lower prices based on availability and demand, but it still really isn't enough to grip the player.
Another flaw of Moonlighter is the lack of any real narrative. Most of the characters in the game are generic and uninteresting, and the ones that are good aren't on the screen for long. When you pair this with the average gameplay, there's not really a lot to keep you playing for a long time.
In the end, Moonlighter feels like a checklist: Go to dungeon, get artifacts, sell them, buy and craft equipment, rinse and repeat. This never changes, and whether or not you like hard grinding will largely determine if you will want this game or not.
Presentation: Pixelated perfection
While the gameplay is lacking overall, the looks and sound of Moonlighter are perfect. The pixelated art style and cartoony animations are reminiscent of some of the older Pokemon games and the recent Escapists series, and the solid variety of colors used makes the world feel alive and full of life. The soundtrack is also top-tier, featuring calm and mellow tracks for spending time in your village, as well as intense and exciting ones for when you're adventuring through a monster-filled dungeon.
The user interface is also clean and organized, which ensures that it won't annoy you during gameplay but will allow the player to view important information like health and controls easily.
Moonlighter for PC review final thoughts
Though Moonlighter has several problems that prevent the game from truly achieving greatness, the excellent art and music and the fun gameplay experience make it worth a try if you enjoy roguelikes and want a new title to play.
- Decent gameplay.
- Interesting concept.
- Excellent presentation.
- Simple combat and exploration.
- Lackluster story.
- Experience becomes repetitive.
You can get Moonlighter on PC now for $19.99, both on Steam and GOG.
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