Adventuring is expensive, as anyone who has ever played an RPG knows. Purchasing new weapons, upgrading equipment, and keeping potions in stock can put a serious strain on the wallet of any would-be hero. In Digital Sun’s Moonlighter, the resourceful protagonist Will easily offsets his adventure-by-night lifestyle since he spends his days as a shopkeeper. Part shop sim, part rogue-lite, this action-RPG walks a strange line, featur
ing surprisingly challenging combat within dungeons and often-picky patrons within the shop, all rendered and beautifully animated in pixel art.
I started my adventure by wandering through a tutorial dungeon, attempting to learn the dash and roll, Will’s signature move for both moving fast and leaping over pits, collecting items, and destroying monsters. I found the fighting to be quite challenging, reminiscent of older Zelda games, though I didn’t get to spend a great deal of time exploring the dungeon. After only a few encounters, I was returned to Will’s bedroom, where he was apparently sleeping off what had to be a rather nasty blow to the head.
Once awake and out of bed, Will and I set to the business of running his store. With only four spots to feature merchandise, picking the right items, and selling them at the right price was critical to make sure we earned a little coin that day. With a long-press of the A button, the shop doors burst open, and in came a wave of would-be patrons, many dressed in outfits which are familiar to just about any gamer. Once everything sold, or more often, when my patience with my picky patrons ran out, I closed the store and set forth into the big, wide world, looking to spend my money and seek my fortune.
The town was of a good size, with lots of open space, a blacksmith to upgrade my gear at, a potion shop, and tons of NPCs wandering, just waiting for me to bother them so I could learn their shopping preferences. Moving out of the laid back town environment and into the challenge of real-time combat within the dungeons was a little jarring, but it also helped to articulate the dual nature of the life Will is leading: It’s hard to be both an action hero and a mild-mannered shopkeeper. Moonlighter features a great soundtrack, and while combat is challenging, the controls are simple and pretty intuitive.