Dungeons And Debtors: Moonlighter

Do you remember Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale? Released in Europe and North America in 2010, it’s a dungeon-crawling RPG combined with shop management. You’re the person adventurers turn to when they need an upgrade on that rusty sword and battered leather armour.

Moonlighter [official site] looks like a fresh version of the same idea. In the daylight hours, you manage your shop and at night you head into randomised dungeons to gather the materials and items you need to keep the shop running.

Moonlighter has been in development for a good while, and after a successful Kickstarter, updates are coming thick and fast. Release is planned for March next year and you can follow development on TIGSource.

And here’s why you might want to follow along. Details on SHOPPING:

“Customers have different behaviours and interests. Some of them would buy an item even if it’s a bit overpriced. Others, on the contrary, will leave the shop empty-handed unless they find a bargain… and, be careful, there will be some shoplifters too.

“From time to time, some customers will request for an specific item. If Will can deliver it within a few days, they maybe very generous!

“Upgrading the shop by investing a large amount of gold is key to increase its benefits dramatically. You will be able to sell more items at the same time, attract better customers and so on.”

And you can’t have a shop without stock. ITEMS:

“Moonlighter is all about the items. There is no ‘level progression’ so having powerful equipment will be the only way to beat the game. Choosing what to keep, what to sell, what to upgrade, and selling the items at the right price will be crucial.

“Each item has a base price which is initially unknown by the player. When an item is first picked an entry about it is added to a merchant notebook that Will carries with partial info about the object, resembling the current knowledge that Will has about the object.

“All items belong to a culture, linked to each of the dungeons. The player will know more about an item as he obtains more items from that specific culture. All items which are part of the same culture will look alike, so it will be easy for the player to associate them. As the player knows more about the items of a culture, it will get easier for him to set the ‘perfect’ price on the shop.

And where do you get those items? Well, you go into a dungeon and harvest the body parts of monsters, of course. Dungeons have three floors, with a boss lurking on the third.

“Unlike other similar games, when the enemies spawn, the doors of the room will be kept open, so player can keep walking and explore faster. If monsters are defeated they will not respawn, even if the players exits the room and enters again, giving the player the possibility of ‘cleaning’ rooms and slowly take control of that instance of the dungeon.

“Chests will spawn randomly on rooms and the player will only be able to open them after defeating all the enemies in the room.

“The loot that enemies drop on death will consist of parts of their bodies, or weapons and armors they are carrying.

“At the end of each dungeon the player will need to defeat a very tough boss that will drop a very valuable loot and unlock new possibilities for the player.”

Sounds good to me. I didn’t get along with Stardew Valley because I find the actual farming too repetitive, but the balance between management and looting here could be better suited to my tastes.


  1. phlebas says:

    Capitalism, ho!

    • TeePee says:

      I have Recettear, and I remember enjoying the limited time I spent with it, right up until the hideously punishing progression curve kicked me in the nads and I lost interest.

      There’s definitely a market for this sort of game, I just don’t think anyone’s nailed it just yet. Fingers crossed this gets a little closer than anything else so far. :)

      • Pantalaimon says:

        Orcish Inn is in the same vein of things, with more of a slant on the shop running aspect. I think it’s perhaps the most interesting.

      • tigerfort says:

        [Arguable spoilers for Recettear]
        I assume that by progression curve you mean the debt repayments? They increase absurdly fast… and then just stop. There are only actually five (IIRC, might be out by one) in total, after which you can just wander through the dungeons at will, levelling up heroes, collecting new gear, and accumulating endless loot. Once I realised the 5th payment was the last, I met it by selling pretty much everything, some of it at a loss. (Which is fine, because money is never a worry ever again once you’ve paid it.)

        But yeah, it was a rather irritating barrier, and if the payments had carried on increasing like that, I would have stopped playing too.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Contrary to what both of you have said…the game is intended to be New Game Plus’d. You aren’t supposed to win on your first try, you’re supposed to basically carry over every last thing you already did after you lose (by restarting, you lose a lot…of completely inconsequential stuff)

          Of course, it’s very easy to win on a first go if you do understand how vastly more important shop XP is than anything else (while the game essentially tells you exactly the opposite in its tutorial)

    • NetharSpinos says:

      Damn you phlebas, I was going to say that :(

      Funnily enough, me & my flatmate were talking about Recettear last night (albeit briefly). Maybe we should all get back into it?

    • Chillicothe says:

      Yayifications, the best first comment!

  2. Pantalaimon says:

    The part of these games that is the largest detriment to actually playing the things is knowing that I’m going to have to endlessly traipse backwards and forwards around one of those RPG maps. It’s just so tedious.

    If any developer wants to cut all that stuff out completely that would be great.

  3. Freud says:

    The actual dungeon crawling was weak in Recrettear and this looks a bit pale as well. I tend to get bored if that part of the game isn’t good.

  4. genoforprez says:

    I thought the crippling debt payments in recettear were a good challenge, but I never failed to meet them. If you were the kind of player that just burned through days or wasn’t selective about what brought back then maybe it was harder. But if you were very resourceful and conservative with your resources and pushed yourself to squeeze as much out of a dungeon in a single run as possible, then keeping up with the debt is no problem.

    Actually, after I got the debt all paid off, I continued to enjoy the game for a while, but I didn’t feel as motivated because I didn’t have any overarching objective after that. I mean, there was the “finish the rest of the end-game dungeon content” but that is a dungeon goal. There was no goal for the shop after that, which I feel like is kinda needed.

    I am curious about this game, but I am skeptical as to whether it will be as nice as recettear was. I am eyeballing it, though… we’ll see, Moonlighter…. we’ll see…

    • Kitsunin says:

      I think if you play the game as the game implies it’s meant to be played, it’s very easy to lose the game. The items simply won’t sell enough for you to even possibly win unless you’ve lowballed customers enough for them to afford the pricy stuff, and for you to have enough shop XP to be allowed to buy the pricy stuff.

      On the flip side, if you understand that you should never ever haggle (despite the tutorial all but saying “haggle whenever you can!”) and should even aim for a solid chunk below what the customer will pay, and you speed through the dungeons, you can easily get enough money for the final payment by the second payment.

      • genoforprez says:

        I’m not really sure where you’re coming from on this. I didn’t see any disparity between the way I was playing and the way the game “implies it’s meant to be played”. You suggest that the game tells you to haggle when it doesn’t want you to, but I haggled all the time. There are certain customers who are more cheapskates (e.g. that little girl) and certain customers who are more generous (e.g. the guildmaster). Different people are haggle-able to different degrees. It also depends on the living economy. If the good in question is in low demand, then yeah, you’re gonna get boned on selling it (but score on buying it!). But if it’s a hot item at the moment you can jack the price WAY up and make a KILLING on selling (but avoid buying at the time). I really don’t know where you’re coming from when you say the game doesn’t actually want you to haggle.

        I also don’t know what you mean by “you should speed through the dungeons”, since like I was saying before, my style was to play in a very slow and methodical way. If you mean “speeding through” the dungeons by clearing as many floors as you can in a single day, then yes, of course.

        I think any real confusion that might occur is if you go into Recettear with the mindset that you are playing a typical business sim (or most other sims) where the objective is simply “grow” but there isn’t any overhanging time pressure or this dungeon-clearing stuff on the side you have to worry about. If you are trying to play it like a business sim, the debt thing will break your balls, but if you go into the game with a kinda minmaxer mindset, you’ll be just fine.

        • Kitsunin says:

          The thing is, every time you haggle, you lose out. The amount of money you can make grows exponentially as you gain shop levels and the customers bring more to your store. The amount of shop XP and customer “trust” (i.e. the amount of money they bring with them into your store, as well as how many customers you get each day) increases by about 5x when you lowball the customers to never miss a Just Bonus. Meanwhile actually earning more money is very unimportant for your future profits when you’ll quickly be acquiring items worth more than your entire fortune at the start if you aim for XP. If your shop level is too low since you’ve haggled too much, then by the time the last payments roll around, the items the customers are purchasing will simply be worth too little money for it to be possible to avoid losing.

          I only really mentioned the dungeon as it’s still a necessity to do in order to get absurd amounts of money within the first couple weeks, there’s nothing weird there.

          But none of this is stuff anyone needs to know, as iirc the localization team stated that the game wasn’t designed to be cleared until a New Game + in the majority of cases.

  5. Rince says:

    So, it’s like a Recettear but replacing the cute and charming character for a generic RPG wannabe hero?
    And the dungeoning don’t look better than in Recettear either.