Thanks to PR for the Xbox One code for this one, it's a lovely game!

Shopkeep by Day!

Say hello to Will, Will is a nice guy, a nice guy who inherited his family-owned shop known as Moonlighter, as time passed and Will's family declined in years he eventually ended up as the sole owner of the business. Will is also an adventurous sort of lad who loves nothing more than to grab a sword, a shield, and go wandering into the nearest dungeon to test his mettle and grab a bunch of bits and bobs that he can sell in the shop.

Hack and slash, sell for profit!

This is the straightforward premise of Moonlighter, a game akin to the lovely Stardew Valley. Only not as involved since there's no farming, or friendship mechanics.

Moonlighter is a gorgeous game though, incredibly fun, not frustrating. It's charming and refreshing in equal measure, and quite addictive. There's a simple gameplay loop that revolves around entering dungeons, looting the monsters and rooms, then getting out with your spoils.

Loot equals potential profit and that's where the second part of Moonlighter comes in, so before we dive into that, let's dive into the gameplay loop #1 a bit more first.

Dungeoneer by Night!

Night is when the dungeons are really dangerous, more lucrative and can net you a great set of loot. Will has a limited inventory space and you can play 'inventory shuffle' with his backpack to get the best loot out. The combat system and navigation in Moonlighter is simple, and if you're familiar with games like Hyper Light Drifter and so on, it's very much a case of: attack with melee or ranged weapon, power attack, dodge (which can also be used to cross gaps).

Monsters are varied and they have attack patterns you can learn, it makes them a lot of fun to fight and to finally defeat.

Fortunately for you, and Will, Will's gear isn't static and you can get new equipment to make your dungeon runs easier and easier. At the start you'll feel like you're not truly making much headway, but over time you'll get enough money to buy new stuff and upgrade the stuff you do have.

Key to this is the forge and the enchanter which we'll cover a bit later on.

Once you have managed to get enough loot to make the run viable, or escaped then you'll return back to the town with a backpack laden with some goodies. Your pendant that allows you to escape dungeons costs gold to power, so don't leave yourself short of a way out or you're going to be in trouble.

If you 'die' in the dungeon you lose everything in your lower-slot backpack, get spat out, and need to do the run again.

Dungeons are random, so rather like Enter the Gungeon, you'll never get the same dungeon layout twice.

Sell, Sell, Sell!

Will has a backpack full of stranger things; there are bits of monsters, broken swords, junk and a few choice items. What can he do with them?

Well, Moonlighter has slots for 4 items to begin with and you can put them down on a display, price them up and see what kind of reaction your customers have.

Beware though, if you price them too high, they'll either not sell or the customer will be unhappy and the demand for that product will lower. If you price them too low, they'll be over the moon, but you'll make barely enough money to cover your dungeon escape, or give you a decent chunk of money to plough back into the town and Moonlighter.

When you open the shop you'll get your customers in, first rank customers are basic folks who'll buy things that they like and have no real preference for quality. You'll see icons above some of their heads, like a sword and shield etc, these are warriors and they'll only buy weapons/potions from your stands.

Keep an eye on their expressions, which pop up Sims-style over their heads in little speech bubbles. You're looking for that spot-on look, not too cheap, not too expensive but just right. Once you get that, you know you're on to a decent sale and profit. Don't be greedy, it can backfire.

Drive the prices up too much and people won't want the thing you're trying to sell, so you'll need to make a loss to get it back to a decent level of demand. Be too generous and you'll also lose out, yeah, your customers will be over the moon smiley faced bastards - your wallet won't be.

Will's journal keeps a track of what you sell things for, so it's pretty easy to tag the right price for the right goods over time.

As you level the shop up, you'll attract new customer archetypes - including thieves, who will lurk about the shop and attempt to steal things from you. Don't let them!

SO, you've made a chunk of cash and you're closing up shop for the evening. What now?

The Town and Shop

The town isn't doing so well; it's not in the best of shape since the dungeons all got closed barring the first one. So Will is going to put money into it, money that will help him grow as an adventurer and provide services he needs as well. Open things like the forge and the enchanter and you'll be able to get new gear, new powerful armour, and enchant your items to do bonus damage. All of this costs money, and money is gained by raiding the dungeon and selling - rinse and repeat.

The same goes for Will's shop. You can upgrade the Moonlighter with various things, new cash registers, and new beds and so on. These give you passive bonuses that help you get more and more money, delve further into the dungeons and gain even more loot to sell.

This simple drive to get bigger and better space to sell even more stuff is a great gameplay loop.

The same goes for upgrading weapons, armour, and getting new gear.

Fighting for the Right to Party

Combat in Moonlighter is great; it's simple, with a lot of tactical options, especially when you get Will a bow. I'd say that a good bow is a must in this game and it'll make delving those dungeons a lot easier. Will can dodge really well, and he does take contact damage, so exploit the so-called invincibility frame that's a staple of these games. Learn to use the last frame of Will's dodge animation to get past enemies and avoid projectiles, it takes some timing, but it works really well. Bows also have no ammo, so you know, go nuts!

You can always use the amulet to get the heck out with your spoils, learn your limits in Moonlighter and you'll have fun.

Dungeons and monsters are random, so you'll encounter different layouts and enemies per delve. Though that said, they might be less random than you think in one way.

Ever notice how a healing pool is always not far away from an important encounter?

It's almost like the designers wanted you to win.

Warning: spend too long in a dungeon faffing about and the game will send a hunter after you, this green menace cannot be killed and hits HARD. Run, dodge, escape to the next level or leave the dungeon!

My Beautiful Dungeons

Moonlighter is a gorgeous game, the pixel-art style is fantastic and it runs extremely smoothly. Yes, it's not exactly pushing the Xbox One to the limit here, but it's a fantastic indie game with layers of atmosphere and detail in every single element.

Animations are great, smooth, and packed with character.

Music to Moon Over

The music and the sound design in the game are excellent, and whilst the sound design is restricted to the clash of weapons and thunk of arrows etc. There's something truly special about the music which matches each area, the time of day, the danger and the situation quite perfectly. Often I'll just stop and listen to the music in a dungeon room, but not for too long.

Single Player Shopkeeping

Moonlighter is single player, it doesn't suffer for this and the whole game is a great way to spend some time away from the frenetic pace of the AAA industry. It's fun, it's punchy and there's a lot to do to upgrade your shop into a place where you can seriously make a ton of money.

Moonlighting Will

Moonlighter is a great game, a wonderful way to while away some hours diving into dungeons and back again to make money to make the subsequent delves easier. There are bosses and there are secrets, it's up to you to find them and discover the further story of Moonlighter.

See you in the dark; I'll be the one with trinkets galore in my pack.

Note: this does not mean there's multiplayer!

Have fun!