Welcome to Best of Xbox Game Pass where each week I’m going to pick out a game available on Game Pass and explain why I think it is worth playing. While I’ll certainly include some of the bigger titles available on the service, I’ll focus more on other games that you might have overlooked in the hope of leading you to a hidden gem
Ah, the humble purveyor of all things healing, helpful and harmful. There’s always a store in RPGs that carries mountains of things a hapless adventurer might find useful, from wheels of cheese to high-quality armour, magic gems and seemingly legendary weapons that they are willing to part with for a relatively small fee. These peddlers of wares are little more than set dressing for us adventurers, their entire existence ignored up until the point where we would like to buy 100 health potions that we will never actually use. But where do they get all their stock from? How the hell does someone who looks like they could barely afford some bread have a legendary sword of demon slaying? That’s where Moonlighter comes in.
In Moonlighter you aren’t the hero of the story, you’re just somebody running a shop that supplies all sorts of items. By day you’ll sell your stuff for as much coin as possible, and then at night you’ll delve into a dungeon to seek out even more stuff to stock your shelves and display cases with. I like to imagine this is what the staff of our local stores do for us, battling the hordes of public during the day and battling the hordes of monsters at night in search of that sweet, sweet loot. Or a bag of Wine Gums for me to buy the next day.
It’s such a cool concept that results in an equally cool gameplay loop. During the day it’s all about keeping an eye on your customers to figure out exactly how much you can charge for each item. You can reinvest the cash into expanding your store, getting a fancy new cash register or setting up some display cases that let you charge way too much for very basic items. Hell, you can even finance other shops in town, like a blacksmith. Your success will help not only yourself but everyone around you, although I do often wonder what happened to all those items I sold. Perhaps they lie lost in a dungeon somewhere, to be found one day by another intrepid adventurer who shall return to the village and sell it to me for about 5 gold pieces. Best I can do, mate.
You can also use that cash to fund your nightly operations, though. Combat and exploration is all kept simple yet it remains fun and hauling out a pile of valuable loot that can pawned off the next day is weirdly satisfying. But taking said loot isn’t so easy due to an intriguing inventory system whereby some objects must be placed in specific places, or might destroy anything above or below them. Hell, some of they may even convert an adjacent item into something else entirely, which could even be a good thing.
Neither the selling or the adventuring are particularly deep. I don’t count that as a major flaw, though, because it keeps Moonlighter as a relaxed indie game that you can pick up and play whenever you want a break from real life. Unless you run an actual shop, in which case I don’t know if all the money in the world would convince you to come home from work and do more work. Mind you, there are truck drivers who play the truck simulators during their time off, so what do I know?
The point is, Moonlighter is comfortable as an absurdly charming and delightful game about running a quint village shop and then going out at night to smash monsters in the face. And isn’t that the dream?
You can check out my full review of Moonlighter here.