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Moonlighter – Dungeons & Vending

  • Post category:Indie
  • Reading time:9 mins read

The game Moonlighter is a combination rogue-lite dungeon-crawler mixed with trade simulation and story-rich RPG elements. This timeless, beautifully rendered pixel top-down was released by Digital Sun in 2018, and is available on most platforms such as PC, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch and even mobile.


Moonlighter is a story about hopeful adventurer Will, a shopkeeper in the small commercial town of Rynoka. Although his family’s shop offers stability and prosperity, it is sustained by the materials found deep in dungeons accessed through gates outside the village. Every night after the shop closes, Will skulks into the darkness to descend into the dungeons before teleporting back with a satchel of goods and the magical necklace that allows him to do so. The more he adventures though, the more he wants to pursue the question of what the dungeons and gates are exactly. When he uncovers a map of the interconnecting nature of the five gates, an adventure begins.

Getting Started in Moonlighter

There are a few things surely endearing to Moonlighter. The top-down pixel graphics are highly detailed and stylized, leading to an atmospheric experience. The game is cozy and interactive. Aside from dungeons, and your shop, there is a whole town that can be explored and characters with meaningful interaction scattered night and day through the streets. The characters are natural and expressive, although the main character does not speak much. And though the dungeons offer re-generating challenges, they are fluid and add choices that matter to the other elements in the game. Such your experience might be, say discovering a book about Golems hidden in a pit just happened to fall into.
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Traditionally, rogue-lites or re-generating RPGs have a hook of sorts. The hook in Moonlighter is the combination of a dungeon-crawler with a shopkeeping sim. Yet, neither are depreciative of the other element, leading to some pretty fulfilling holistic in-game commerce motivation. The complexity of the game’s shopkeeping interface allows you to gather and merchandise according to information provided by experimentation and exploration. Customers are real customers, and they even offer expression-filled thought bubbles as they react to your pricing–either a smile or a frown, which lets you know to change the price accordingly, or leave it how it is. Record-keeping allows automatic storage of past pricing from materials gathered while moonlighting in the dungeons.

Comparative Games

You may remember a Nintendo game from the 90’s called Earthbound, also known as Mother. Earthbound has similarities to Moonlighter, for one stylistically, though some have compared Moonlighter more to the game Stardew Valley, which I agree with–when not slaying golems that is. Moonlighter is neatly packaged and presented, but it is by no means simple. With the incentive to do so, time can be continously deluged into the shopkeeping, crafting, gaining companions, collecting epic loot, or even getting to know neighbors. It’s sort of like a single-player, indie, MMO in that way–also a great source of replayability and nuance gameplay.

Features of Moonlighter

Here are some top features of the world of Moonlighter

  • Dungeon-crawling
  • Combat and Swordplay
  • Shopkeeping Trade-Sim
  • Character Interaction
  • Crafting Armor and Enchantments
  • Collecting Loot and Selling it
  • Gaining Companions
  • Achievements
  • Story-Progression

My Take

This game is from 2018. Quality doesn’t seem to have diminished in Moonlighter. The detailed pixel art graphics are phenomenal in Moonlighter. It’s always encouraging in games to have a way to either start over and or just go back somewhere safe. Some call it lazy, I call it cozy.

The trade simulation element sof this game are amazing. How do they make customers gauge the value of a random mob junk in my shop. How? Coding I guess, but it is super immersive. Trade-sims are the best way to experiment with an economy, without actually using money.

It’s sort of stunning to me that Digital Sun has not released or projected any new games since the release of Moonlighter. There is certainly no absence of talent or innovation. Hard to say though. Either way, I applaud them for creating this really neat game with the bold notion of seeing the connection between a cozy trade-sim idea and a fun pixel art dungeon-crawler. It has endless replay value, although a DLC whenever or new release could be alot of fun too. Great to see such a humble production leave a bright legacy amongst indie fans, and a great example for devs to come.

Hold Down A to Close the Review

That’s what I have for you on Moonlighter. Just kinda plucked this one out of a stack, knowing that it was well praised, but in need of some research. If you would like to purchase this game, I have provided a link below that will supports new content.

Thank you so much for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. We have lots to come, and lots to share already, so have a look around, and please come back!