Roguelikes and Legend of Zelda clones are common in the indie market today, but Moonlighter takes both of these elements and throws in town building and crafting elements. I found this added mechanic to be a nice addition to the formula, and added to the narrative, despite the minor glitches and framerate issues.
Moonlighter’s story revolves around a shop owner, named Will, who is the last living member of his family and is entrusted to carry on his ancestors legacy. Will, on the other hand, wants to be a hero, and at night, goes into dungeons to try and become a town hero, but fails and is pulled out by an old man, named Zenon, who gives our protagonist a sword and tells him that he should concern himself with his shop and use funds to rebuild the small town. Despite this warning, Will continues to explore the dungeons. While this setup is cliche, it works as a great setup for the game’s mechanics.
Gameplay consists of three main components, dungeon crawling, town and shop building, as well as item crafting. Dungeon crawling consists of playing through five different randomized environments in an overhead view, swinging a sword, and gathering materials, such as armor crafting supplies. Town and shop building is simply saving up money through selling the items in your small shop, Moonlighter, in order to have enough cash to pay for new shops and renovations to your store. Crafting is essential to surviving the gauntlets ahead and consists of saving money and gathering items in order to craft everything from weapons and armor, to health potions. While these concepts all work in an endless cycle, it is fun to find new items, discover their value, and use them to gather the capital to revive the village’s economy.
Frame rates were a constant issue I encountered and could sometime drop to a couple of frames per second. This problem would happen at any time from loading screens to a chamber full of enemies. I found that I was never safe from this except for when in the village. I found this to be infuriating and caused me to have a few cheap deaths.
Moonlighter, when it is all said in done is an indie darling that could use some polish. Despite the glitches and frame rate problem, I found myself charmed by the characters and core gameplay. Moonlighter is unique and is something I could see myself playing for hours on end with the roguelike elements and crafting, there are a lot of great ideas coming together for a flawed, but colorful adventure.