Ever since delightful Japanese hack n’ slash/storekeeping sim hybrid Recettear proved that such a thing was even possible, I’ve loved the idea of playing as an RPG shopkeeper. Clearly they’re the most powerful class around – how else do you get multiple god-slaying swords in stock? Today yet another game in this small yet charming sub-genre was released. In Moonlighter, you run your family’s equipment store by day, plunder the dungeons for loot and additional stock by night – It almost makes working two jobs sound bearable.
As with Recettear, Moonlighter is a game of two halves. By day you wander the village, buying and selling gear as needed and tending to the store itself, stocking shelves and trying to turn as much profit as possible. Each villager has their list of likes, dislikes and special items they want to see stocked, so chattering to the locals helps. By night, the game turns into a Zelda-meets-roguelike procedurally generated dungeon crawl. Fight bosses, unlock new dungeon areas, grab loot to sell to the locals or upgrade yourself with.
Unlike Recettear, where the dungeons only became the focus of the game in the second major story arc, the dungeon crawling in Moonlighter is a lot more involved and makes up the lion’s share of the game. Rather than blaze through enemies at a thousand miles an hour, you’ve got to be a bit more methodical in combat, and do a lot of careful picking and choosing of what you loot to fill your backpack with. You can only haul so much back out with you after a dungeon run, so you’ve also got to weigh up what you bring in as equipment for yourself to bring into the field.
While I’m not sure if anyone at Fort RPS has had a chance to monkey around a bit with Moonlighter, response to the game does seem broadly positive, although it does have some gaps in its stock, including a lack of native mouse support and limited support for gamepads outside of generic XInput devices. No issue if you’ve got an Xbox controller to hand, but could be a problem otherwise. Beyond that, there’s some reports of bugs and balance issues, but beyond that folks seem happy with the game.