Selling materials in a small village must be quite hard, even harder if you are the one gathering all the supplies. But how fun can it be playing a game about working on fantasy retail? Well, let me tell you in this Moonlighter review for PS4.
Okay, before getting out of this article because I’m going to review “an indie shop simulator”, hear me out before doing that. This may sound odd and risky, but I think Moonlighter deserves some high praises. Why you ask? Well, just sit down and relax, because the shop’s open.
Dungeons and Dealers
As I don’t want to spoil Moonlighter’s plot because it’s quite interesting to discover stuff by yourself, I’ll be brief. We take control of Will, a young man eager to find glory and adventure since he was a kid. But of course, reality struck him quite early, as his family owned the Moonlighter, a humble shop established in the humble Rynoka’s village. Years passed and the only thing Will did was cleaning the shop’s floor and see the same customers go in and out. But when Will’s parents passed away, he had to keep the promise of keeping the shop’s legacy intact. And thus, Will’s journey begins…
Okay, now that I’ve written something that you could find behind the game’s box, I think it’s time to talk about what the game’s about. Moonlighter is basically what you could get if you mix a cute pixel art that reminds me of The Legend of Zelda Minish Cap with those Imagine: Shopkeepers games for the DS. Okay, don’t go yet please, just listen.
What are you sellin’?
The main premise of Moonlighter is simple: you go to thematic dungeons (your basic forest, desert, stone and spooky technological areas) in order to collect materials and sell them in our lovely shop. How do you gather said materials? By killing cute monsters! Well, some of them are cute, others are the stuff of nightmares (don’t stay in a dungeon floor for too long, your underwear will thank you for that). Each material is unique depending on the dungeon’s floor we are inside of and the type of monster we slayed. We can also find materials inside of chests, but be aware: some of this materials will be cursed. And this where one of my favorite mechanics comes into play: inventory management.
I don’t know why, but this feature reminded me of Resident Evil 4. You know, having to place your items in specific ways in order to have as much space as possible. Moonlighter is quite similar, as we can’t upgrade our backpack. 20 is the highest amount of slots we can carry, and materials can be stacked in order to manage those slots more carefully. Curses act as an interesting game changer, as they will clone an object once you return to Rynoka, break them or even hide what they are until you arrive safely to the village. But don’t be reckless, because if you die inside of a Dungeon you can say goodbye to all the materials located in your backpack (the ones in your pockets can stay, don’t ask why).
“But Gorondorf” I hear you say, “why do we need materials and money?”. Well anonymous person, here’s why: because Rynoka’s is a place full of greedy bastards.
What are you buyin’?
The first dungeon is fine if you want to live with like, 4 customers per day who only buy sticks for 3 golden coins. But if we want to make Moonlighter great again (and get more cool materials from harder dungeons), we have to upgrade ourselves as well as the shop. And that’s what we do with the money in Moonlighter: buy things in order to adventure some more.
From armors to bows, swords, great swords, spears and a JoJo’s reference that I won’t spoil, there’s plenty to buy in Rynoka. And also expensive. That’s why we have to buy upgrades for the shop in order to sell more goodies. From a better bed to a “For Sale!” place in order to call the customers’ attention, every upgrade in this game feels worth it. Heck, you can even receive orders from people about specific materials! And of course, when something goes big, there’s going to be thieves. And yes, they get really annoying once your shop gets huge, as you’ll have to catch them while dealing with customers buying materials for a price they don’t agree. No Sarah, I don’t care if you don’t like that the Core of a Lava Serpent costs slightly more than the ideal price!
Thank you for your purchase!
Moonlighter is small in size but huge in terms of enjoyment. Everything feels fantastic, without any serious nitpicks whatsoever. I mean yeah, it would be fine to deal with thieves the moment they enter to the shop instead of having to wait for them to grab an item, or maybe a little bit more of secret rooms with more content inside of them. But again, these are all minor issues that don’t make your experience with Moonlighter less fun. And trust me, I’m making this review short in order to make you experience the game as fresh as possible, because something I can say with no doubt is that I had a blast playing this cute indie title.
I’m not afraid of saying that this game deserves a spot in your library, as to me Moonlighter is a solid example of why indie games are the true future of gaming. No mindless action, no pretentious characters or plot devices, just simple and rewarding fun.