One could easily play Moonlighter with an emphasis on the action-RPG side. Thanks to the depth of the customisation and the ability to continuously invest in abilities, over say, the idea of investing in a bowl of fruit to place next to your cash register. Set in the picturesque but rundown Rynoka village, there’s an element of Stardew Valley to both the presentation and the intoxicating blend of things to do, and then do again because they’re so much fun. Visually a treat, the animation is also reminiscent of classic LucasArts adventures from the ‘90s including The Dig and Full Throttle. Where character detail extends to environments with no tiny plume of smoke or gentle waving of a cloth in a breeze too small a detail.
One reason, of many, that adds considerable weight to its success comes down to the simple fact if you were to subtract the shopkeeper stuff and view it from a dungeon perspective – Moonlighter still works. From the top-down perspective to the old-school Zelda-like layouts where you traverse through rooms descending deeper into more difficult levels to reach the boss - the progression of the action itself is sound. The combat has a great feel, the animation exceptional, and both enemy variety and design feel spot on. But what happens when you take a well-executed action-RPG and then add in the potential motivation that you’re simply there to find new and potentially exotic items to sell? Well, you get a literal game-changer.