For the past few months I’ve been moonlighting as someone who doesn’t write game reviews. Hell, to be more accurate for the past few months I’ve been moonlighting as someone who doesn’t even play games. Man, having a day job really sucks the fun out of everything, doesn’t it? Now that I’m back let’s talk about Moonlighter: a game where a day job sucks all the fun out of everything.
The core idea of Moonlighter is that on top of the typical dungeon crawling, you also have to run a shop, selling off items you collected. It’s not a bad little gimmick, and one that’s been pulled off well in the past. The issue here is that at the games best Moonlighter doesn’t make up for how grindy it swiftly becomes.
You have limited Inventory space when entering a dungeon, and that fills up pretty fast. So while dungeons have three or four floors, I never really found it to be worth the effort to go past the first or second, then leave and sell whatever I had collected. The game does try to make up for this by making certain items necessary for upgrading your equipment and creating potions. But even with that I was still flooded with junk to sale. The sad thing is, there is a really simple solution to all this: add some pressure. There are 4 dungeons and one that’s just a boss fight, so why not add a Swindle like countdown to having to clear them all before the world blows up or some shit. Or, how about making the player have to pay rent and wages each month, forcing you to HAVE to make a certain amount of money each month? Or both? As the game is now I just went into a dungeon, filled up my pack, left and sold my stuff until I had the money and items to upgrade my weapons and armor, fought the boss, the did it all over again. There is no pressure on the player. There’s none of the “big risk, big reword” kind of motivation that is supposed to make entrepreneurship so tantalizing.
The shop keeping itself is also kind of dull. There are 4 price ranges for all items: “Holy Shit What A Deal”, “The Right Price”, “I Guess I’ll Pay This But I’m Not Happy About It”, and “Fuck This Noise”. So long as you get each item at “The Right Price”, it will get sold. A costumer who thinks $5 is too much for something will still happily pay nearly $1 million for another item, so long as the price point for each unit is right. And they will always buy every until. You can’t over saturate a market with a product and drive down the price or withhold it to raise the price. If the product is out, and the price-pre-each is right, it will get sold. This is entrepreneurship by way of people who don’t know much about entrepreneurship. And look, I’m not exactly an authority on the subject either; I’ve got two semesters of college level economics classes under my belt, that’s it. But even with that I couldn’t help but feel like the game missed a lot of opportunities.
The dungeon crawling doesn’t fair much better. There are five or six types of weapons, each with their own upgrade trees, and three types or armor with their own three branches. While it is important to upgrade your equipment to increase your damage output and max life, once you find what your play style everything is pretty much stagnant for the rest of the game. Your move-set doesn’t change when you upgrade, so the only real difference is the number of hits it takes to kill each enemy. As my preferred weapon was the sword and shield, this meant I spent the entire game hitting one attack button and the dodge every now and again (the shield itself was pretty much useless).
I think the point of all of this was to “streamline” the experience. But what ended up happening was the game was stripped of of everything that made it interesting. I do hope developer Digital Sun takes another stab at this at this kind of dungeon crawling/entrepreneur simulator but expands on it, because I do see a lot of potential here. The art style is great and the enemy verity was impressive. Plus the boss fights were genuinely enjoyable even if the combat could have used a bit more verity. As is, I don’t think I can really recommend Moonlighter. I never hated the experience, but there was so much more that I wanted out of the game. Maybe pick this up if you’re looking to see just how invested your kid is in going to business school, but other than that, I don’t see much profit to be gained from playing this.
Moonlighter was developed by Digital Sun
$19.99: Sorry guys, the Opportunity Cost of buying this one is just too high
A Review Copy of Moonlighter was Provided for this Review