Moonlighter

Game review by
Paul Semel, Common Sense Media
Moonlighter Game Poster Image
Tough action-adventure/sales sim tests skills, patience.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Running a business isn't easy, especially in a fantasy realm. Highlights persistence, testing your abilities against overwhelming odds, but there's a very shallow exploration of these ideas in the game.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Our hero risks his life so he can find weapons and other items to sell in his store. Otherwise, little known about the character.

Ease of Play

While controls are simple, combat is intentionally tough and unforgiving.

Violence

Though players use swords and other weapons to kill monsters, the game's aerial viewpoint and pixelated graphics mean there's no blood or gore.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Moonlighter is a downloadable action-oriented adventure game for the PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Windows, and Macs. The game casts players as a merchant of a small town who sells weapons and gear to townsfolk to fight monsters but also has to explore dungeons and defeat creatures to acquire the items to stock his shelves. While players frequently have to battle monsters, using swords and other weapons to kill them, the pixelated graphics and aerial perspective eliminate the blood and gore in the game. There's no inappropriate content to be found in the game, but players may find themselves frustrated by the gameplay. While the controls are simple to learn and play, defeating some monsters in battle can be extremely challenging.

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What's it about?

In MOONLIGHTER, you play a merchant in a medieval village that's near some dungeons. Which is why, when you're not running your shop, you're exploring the dungeons, looking for weapons and other valuables you can then sell in your store, hopefully for a profit. As a result, you spend half the game whacking monsters with swords, and the other half trying to sell the monsters' weapons to a fellow adventurer. All of which happens with the same kind of old-school charm as a classic Legend of Zelda game.

Is it any good?

Some players will find this action game difficult and others may wish they spent more time in the dungeons and less time in the store, but this is a fun, unique, tough, old-school adventure. In Moonlighter, you play as a proprietor of a shop in a small village. Since you can't order swords and other items from a local distributor, you have to find them yourself. It's a good thing your village is near some dungeons, and your whole world is set in a fantasy realm. What makes Moonlighter unique is that while you spend a lot of time exploring these dungeons, looking for loot you can sell, you also spend time selling that loot and running your shop. The business side is handled in a simplified way; you don't need a degree in economics to understand this part of the game. The largest and possibly most defining issue with Moonlighter is that everything that makes its gameplay unique could also be a downside to some people who don't appreciate the elements of its gameplay -- which will appeal to certain players. Some gamers will enjoy how unforgiving the combat can be, but others will find it frustrating. That's especially true when you're constantly getting hit by incoming attacks as you're getting swarmed by monsters in a dungeon. Some players will also enjoy running the shop, but others will find it tedious. Moonlighter won't be for everyone, but those who appreciate its unique take on dungeon-exploring action games and commercialism will get a kick out of it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. In Moonlighter, you kill dungeon-dwelling monsters. Do you think you'd feel differently about it if you also killed people? Is it easier to commit violence against creatures than humans?

  • Part of Moonlighter involves running a store, but what has this shown you about the way stores work, and the way you should shop?

  • What do adventure games like Moonlighter teach you about positive character strengths like courage and perseverance? Can you see how these traits apply both to fighting monsters and running a business?

Game details

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