Moonlighter Hands On
Currently in the works from indie developer, Digital Sun, Moonlighter is an exquisitely charming ARPG looking for its time in the sun here at E3 2017. Being an avid fan of dungeon crawlers and loot based RPG’s, I found myself immediately captivated when I dropped into the quaint village of Rynoka. The village is home to courageous heroes and merchants alike; all who share a desire to capitalize off of the treasures found within the mysterious gates residing outside of town. Filling the role of Will, a humble shopkeeper who possesses an ambition of becoming a hero, I was tasked with managing my business by day, and collecting valuable loot at night.
My adventure in Moonlighter began with a brief tutorial dungeon which introduced me to the combat and inventory management mechanics. Carrying a modest backpack and wielding nothing but a death-inducing broomstick, my meek attacks were only capable of carrying me through two rooms before I was tragically slain. Along the way, I smashed a plethora of pots in Zelda-like fashion, leaped over pitfalls, dodged projectiles, and defeated various enemies who dropped precious loot I was so desperately seeking. Upon vanquishing my enemies, multiple treasure chests were unlocked, which provided me with additional currency, useful trinkets, and consumables.
“Bearing rogue-lite qualities with the added flare of managing my own shop offers both a familiar and fresh experience.”
Following my vicious death, I was rescued by a local elderly man who felt pity towards my inability to hold my own against the horrors within the gates. Recognizing my undying will of becoming a hero, he grants me a new blade and a sacred ‘Merchant Pendant’, a common tool among merchant families which enables me to escape the gate realms at will. The old man claimed to have been a close friend of my grandfather, therefore, he offered to share his tips on profiting off of my collected loot. He stated that being a successful, well-renowned merchant depended on three key aspects: customer purchase level, the value of an item, and it’s popularity. I then proceeded to open my shop to potential buyers. My first customer of the day purchased a health potion, a necessity of every great hero, and was thoroughly satisfied with the fifty dollar price tag. My elderly mentor mentioned that my prices should be based entirely on the expressions of my customers. Determining the balance between too expensive and too cheap can prove challenging, and just as I began feeling like a prestigious business owner, I was sorely denied by a burly warrior. Disgusted with the hefty price of a different potion, he turned his back on my modest establishment without saying goodbye. While being enveloped with a sense of somberness, my companion continued to shed his wisdom by reiterating the importance of avoiding repetitiveness. Selling an item too often will swiftly satisfy my customers, forcing me to adjust the price in order to satisfy them further. Offering items in high demand is crucial, and setting a heftier price for said items is key to making a significant profit.
After wrapping up my time with the demo, I shared an in-depth discussion with David Fernandez, one of Moonlighter’s designers, regarding the progression of the game. Over time, Will enters the gates to collect loot and sell it within his shop. The currency gained through his entrepreneurial endeavors can be exchanged for higher level weapons, armor, and enchantments. Additionally, Will can expand his shop, hire employees, and manage his growing collection of gold. Throughout the course of the game, players must choose when to advance, and when to flee from the gates in order to balance their heroism and shopkeeping responsibilities. Should players die, they’ll lose everything they’ve collected during their quest with the exception of the minimal items they can fit in their pockets. Utilizing their merchant pendant ensures a safe escape. Dungeon crawling, profiting, and upgrading your gear is the name of the game, all in the journey of Will solidifying himself as a true hero.
Overall, I was genuinely intrigued by the elements presented by the action RPG. Bearing rogue-lite qualities with the added flare of managing my own shop offers both a familiar and fresh experience. I even found myself identifying with Will’s ambition to progress beyond his current state of being. I’m thrilled to get my hands on the full release of Moonlighter later this year and if you dig ARPGs I’d suggest keeping an eye out for it yourself.