Moonlighter (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 10.11.2018 1

Review for Moonlighter on PlayStation 4

As the indie sensation finally gets its release on Nintendo Switch, Cubed3 is taking a look at its release on PlayStation 4 from back in May this year. The name Moonlighter is completely apt, as despite playing as a dungeon crawling hero, the main character is only moonlighting as such. He's actually just a humble shop-keep - at least, by day. Although stocking the shelves has never been such an arduous task, since the heroic protagonist has to slaughter his way through five dungeons, gathering the loot of the fallen back to his shop to sell. Dungeons and Dragons meets Bargain Hunt in Moonlighter.

Shopkeeper Will is too adventurous for his own good. Lucky for him, his shop is in the little town of Rynoka, one on the doorstep of a series of dungeons locked away behind magical gates, giving him a perfect location to source his goods. Thus begins the cycle of heading into the dungeon to source goods, then bringing them back to sell in the shop.

The dungeons are old-school, top-down adventure RPG with a combat style reminiscent of the early Zelda games. No Master Sword or Deku Shield here, though; heading into the dungeon for the first time, Will has nothing but a broom and a dodge roll to get by. Thankfully, the first level of the first dungeon is filled with simple enemies that are easily overcome - tiny slimes and slow spitting water turrets. Things get even easier early on as a conveniently placed sword and shield are stumbled upon make it little more manageable.

That is for the first level or two. As Will progresses further into the dungeon, the simple equipment is evidently not enough to continue deeper, especially when getting to the final level where a huge boss monster Golem awaits. To take this on, as well as the challenges of the second dungeon that come after, and better equipment is needed. To make new equipment requires a blacksmith and sadly the little town of Rynoka has only one shop - at least, to begin with. After selling enough items and saving up enough cash, the noticeboard in town can be used to improve either the shop itself or the town.

Screenshot for Moonlighter on PlayStation 4

One of the steps in improving the town brings in exactly what the doctor ordered: a blacksmith who can fashion a whole host of weapons of death. A two-handed sword, a bow, knuckle dusters, a spear, and armour, just for starters. Some of these do feel rather overpowered, though, especially the two-handed sword and bow, both of which have special attacks of particular game-breaking levels. The sword has a charge up attack with a high amount of invincibility frames that used correctly can defeat almost any enemy with ease and the bow's special attack can shoot through obstacles, allowing for some cheesy tactics.

Not taking advantage of these makes for a solid experience. There are four dungeons to overcome, each with a special key that opens the special "fifth door," and the difficulty ramps up within each dungeon but equally the rewards are more valuable, meaning more money, meaning upgrading the town and the shop. Equally, improving the equipment at the blacksmith requires specific item drops, and to reach the more powerful versions of each weapon requires progressing through each dungeon. It's well balanced to require a few visits per dungeon to gather enough items to move on to the next.

Back to town, though: in improving the town itself, it's not just a blacksmith to entice into town, as there are a handful of NPCs from rare item sellers, to sellers of curios for decorating the shop, and a potion brewer who can enchant weapons and make them all the more powerful. These characters once again need items from the dungeons. Collecting goodies from the dungeons has another tricky element, though - the bag space is absurdly limited and items often have curses, which can destroy other items in the bag or require to be placed in a specific part of the bag.

The items not handed to NPCs can be, as previously mentioned, sold off in the shop. The basics of shop-keeping are just the right level of simple, yet addictive. The shop has counters for merchandise to be displayed, fill these with items, set a price, and open shop. The trick is setting the correct price. Each villager will come in and look at an item, resulting in a reaction ranging from underpriced, well priced but low, well priced but high, or overpriced. Usually, this means overpricing an item and cutting the cost a little each time, to try and hit the sweet spot and make the most possible cash. There are some extra elements to the selling, too - rarity and popularity - along with shoppers with certain traits, and even the occasional shoplifter.

Screenshot for Moonlighter on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Like all the finest indie titles, Moonlighter has such a simple premise but is done so masterfully it becomes fantastically addictive - from the basic combat, to the Resident Evil style bag management, to upgrading the shop, to selling the goods; every aspect feels great. Combine this with the charming old-school art and you have got a clear winner on your hands. The only real negative is how short the game is and how the story feels a little lightweight. Moonlighter also feels like it would be even better on Switch, so keep an eye out for Cubed3's review of that version soon!

Developer

11 Bit Studios

Publisher

11 Bit Studios

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

looking at let's plays makes this look like a inferior version of Hyper Light Drifter.

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