Moonlighter – Sales and Slashing (A Review)

Last year we discovered a new game; Moonlighter.

We watched a trailer for this delightful little dungeon crawling shopkeeper game and straight away we knew that it was our kind of game. It was reasonably cheap for a physical copy, so we went ahead and ordered a copy.

When it arrived, I was knee-deep in We Happy Few, and although I was really into it and wanted to finish it, (it had been on my ‘to-play’ pile for a long time), I couldn’t wait to get Moonlighter going. Luckily I could stick it in to install and still play We Happy Few for a bit.

Once it was installed I was in there.

When the game starts you find yourself in a dungeon – one that looks like it’s straight out of Zelda: A Link to the Past – you’re in control of the main character Will, and you have to fight your way through a few screens of enemies until you get overwhelmed. At this point, you’re unsure as to whether you’re supposed to fight or just give in so this bit was a cause of much confusion.

When you’re pulled out of the dungeon, you find out that you’re tasked with running your grandfather’s shop Moonlighter, but that Will harbours a secret yearning to become an adventurer and hero.

The way that the game separates the two tasks is quite good, by allowing you to adventure at night and then run your shop during the day – which you need to do, to earn money, to upgrade your gear so you can fight your way through the dungeons.

It’s such a simple premise when you think about it, but it works so well and is extremely enjoyable.

The shop bit is a fun addition to what may have been an average dungeon crawler. Not only do you sell the things you find in the dungeon, but you also have to adjust prices to customer demand and even do tasks for them. It’s all about fine-tuning your selling price and not flooding the market with a particular item. Oh yeah, and there are thieves you need to stop whilst your busy serving customers…bastards.

Along with upgrading your weapons and gear, you can also buy upgrades for your shop to allow you to buy more selling and storage space. There are also several upgrades for the town where your shop is situated, businesses like potion shops and blacksmiths that will help you along your dungeon adventure.

The dungeon side of things is all simple. There are 4 types of dungeons which have various kinds of enemies of varying difficulties. As you complete one dungeon by defeating the boss, the next one opens up to you.

Inside the dungeon, there are a total of 3 floors (including the boss at the end of the third) in which you need to get through. You don’t have to get through them all in one go as you gain a pendant that will allow you to save your progress, leave the dungeon, and then go back later. This is useful as the one thing that you can’t upgrade through the game is the size of the bag you carry that stores the items you pick up through the dungeons. This is good in a way because it makes you think about what you’re picking up and making space for the more valuable items, customer quest items, or things you need for the upgrades.

Throughout most of the game, you’re on your own in the dungeons. But there are eggs that you can pick up, that hatch a little buddy. This buddy will follow you around and help you fight enemies.

We enjoy a good trophy hunt and Moonlighter provides some fun trophies to get, some of them are a little on the hard side due to not being able to save and redo bits. In particular the ones where you have to kill the bosses without being hit; this requires a lot of practice, and another where you have to kill each boss by using your trusty broom for the last hit. The platinum may be just out of reach to all but the seasoned adventure, but if you’re so inclined it does add the extra playability after you’ve finished the main story.

Overall, Moonlighter is excellent. It’s not too taxing and is quite a good stress reliever with its retro graphics, slow pace, and soothing soundtrack. For the price that this game is, it’s well worth it and maybe a bit more. I would definitely give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and recommend it to anyone that asked.

My Game of the Year (Hopefully No Spoilers)

This year has been a year of staying in – whether by choice or enforced – and playing games. Though there have been many new games this year, I’ve mainly been playing older ones, catching up on some that have been on my to-play list for a long time. Having said this though there are several new games that I have played, and it’s of those that I’ll be explaining what my favourite of the year was.

I’ll start with a recent release and a very divisive game; Cyberpunk 2077.

Cyberpunk 2077 was delayed numerous times, it was initially set for release in April 2020 but was delayed until September, which okay, it was at the start of the pandemic, things were well and truly kicking off worldwide, so it can be forgiven. This again wasn’t to be, and it was delayed until November; but again, it wasn’t to be. It was delayed once more until December, despite me thinking that it would only be delayed again – because at this point I was questioning whether the game actually existed or not – it was actually released this time. This came with a huge but though…

Having been delayed numeous times, you’d expect the reasoning behind it would be that the developer was still working on it, but on release day it was reported that most of the people that were playing it were having issues with it; including me.

From scenes failing to render, to character customisations disappearing and UI issues, it seems plagued by problems. For me, the issues I’ve experienced aren’t game-breaking and so far (I haven’t got all that far in) the issues are more of a mild annoyance than anything. However, I can understand why some people wanted their money back. The game doesn’t seem to be finished, or at the very least, polished to high standard. You’d think that these kinds of issues would have been picked up during beta testing (if that even happened) and is quite the disappointment for something that was hyped so much.

Having said this though, I’m enjoying the game so far. I’m about 3-4 hours into it and despite the issues, it’s still a fun game – the design-a-genital on the character customisation not withstanding. I’m yet to get up to the Keanu Reeves character so I’m looking forward to that, but whether the bugs allow me to get that far remain to be seen.

Having not finished it, and it having so many bugs, I can’t really give this a rating yet. But so far I’d probably give it maybe a 7/10. Hopefully CDProjekt will release some updates that address some of the issues seen. If they don’t I don’t think they’ll be getting many more people buying it, especially considering that it’s been pulled from the Playstation Store.

Next up I’ll be talking about the rage-inducing Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time;

One word – or sound – describes Crash 4, it is simply; “Aaaaaargh!”

Crash 4 has to be the game that produces more anger than any other – at least for me. It starts off fairly gently. With a level that is reminiscent of the three previous games. It kind of mashes them all together but also adds a little something new – namely the mask element. But soon after this slow start it starts to throw all kind of craziness at you.

First off, the levels are super long. It’s literally like they’ve taken the level length from the previous games and tripled it. This in and of itself isn’t an issue. The problems arise when they throw in some overly complicated level mechanics, and those damn masks.

Throughout the game – as with the other entries in the Crash series – you progress through different worlds, which each has a different style to it; from Island, to a Mad Max style apocalyptic, to future. At the end of each world, you fight a boss – the same bosses that you’ve defeated in the other games – and receive a new mask; switching, super spin, flip, and slow speed. The levels get harder and more complex the further you go until you get to the final level which uses all the masks, multiple times and is just batsh!t.

Crash games have always been hard, some of the levels on the remasters had me swearing and shouting at the screen. But these new levels are a whole new kind of hell. 3D platformers have never really been my thing – sidescrolling is the way to go – but I enjoyed the first Crash when it game out way back in 1996 when I was – oh God – 11. I didn’t play the other two games, other than playing a demo that game with a magazine – God I miss those days, so playing them on the remaster was fun and a new experience for me. They were hard. but having played the latest entry of the series, I would happily go back and play those – even those damn rope bridge levels. But honestly, now that I’ve finished Crash 4, I have absolutely no intention of replaying it ever and I’d be happy to never have to think about it again.

But, with all this, it does have some positives. As you progress the story, you not only play as Crash and Coco, but also as Tawna, Dingodile, and even Cortex. This is a fun addition as it allows you to have a break from the typical Crash levels and play through some using different character mechanics. As well as this, when you finished a level you get to play it again but this time in what’s called N.Verted mode. This mode mirrors the level, but also adds different things to the look of it, some look like photo negatives, others are black and white and performing actions paints them – I quite like this one – as well as other things. There’s also the addition of different play styles, you can either play the old way; which means you get lives and when you run out it’s game over, or – what we chose to play – were when you die you it shows you how many times you’ve died – in this mode we racked up and impressive 214 deaths on the final level I mentioned above. The gems that you win from each level also allow you ton unlock different skins for Crash and Coco. These don’t do anything special other than change the look but their a nice addition.

Overall, despite the rage that built up inside me during play, I would give this a 8/10. I may not want to see it ever again, and I may have experienced deeper anger than I’d ever felt, but it’s still a good game, and if you’re a fan of Crash games, you should give it a go.

Next is the first of games that I absolutely couldn’t wait for; Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1&2 Remastered.

I first played Tony Hawk when it was released on the first Playstation back in 1999. My brother and I spent hours playing it and trying to get all the challenges on all the levels completed. I had no skill back then and I spent most of the time just mashing buttons and hoping that I would land a trick; nothing has changed.

As soon as I saw that this game was being released, I couldn’t wait for. I’d only recently been talking about trying to find a copy of the original game when it popped up that it was being remastered.

First off, let me just say, this game is beautiful. The difference between the originals and this is incredible; it might as well be a totally new game in it’s own right.

The levels are the same, most of the characters are there – plus a few new ones and the ability to create you own is great – even if mine looks like something out of Sunset Overdrive. The challenges are also the same, you have to get high scores, collect different items including the S-K-A-T-E letters. The soundtrack, though slightly different from the originals, still blows most game soundtracks out of the water.

This game is pure nostalgia, it’s the same as the originals but prettier; and I have no problem with that at all. I’m still all about the button bashing – although now I do try to do actual moves. Some of the levels and challenges still make me shout at the screen, but it’s still less rage-inducing tha Crash 4. I love this game and it’s one that I will come back to time, and time again. I can dip in an out without ever losing my lack skill, and pick up where I left off. There’s nothing more to say other than it’s awesome and gets an amazing 9/10 from me.

Last but not least is my favourite game of the year and it’s yet another divisive one; The Last of Us: Part II.

Back in 2013, The Last of Us was the reason why I bought a PS3. As soon as I played it, I loved it, it was a game that was so right up my alley that it would have been a shock if I didn’t. The number emotions you go through as your follow Ellie and Joel across the country fighting infected, is second to none. You truly root for the characters and just want them to get to where they’re going in one piece. As soon as I finished it, I wanted a sequel. In the time it took for one to arrive, I must have finished part I at least 6 or 7 times; playing through on multiple difficulties and collecting all the extras.

The Last of Us: Part II being announced was amazing and I then truly got excited for a sequel to see where these characters were now. This game – much like Cyberpunk – was delayed multiple times, each time was like a punch in the gut and I again started to think it would never see the light of day. When it came to this year, a year plagued by, well, plague, it seemed only right that it would be released, but it was for that very reason it was delayed – at least the last couple of delays, that is.

When it finally game out, we got our copy and got straight into it. Luckily despite there being leaks of the story and many spoilers out there, I managed to avoid knowing anything about the game and it’s story. I think this was the right way to go because then, as the story unfolds, you’re truly going in without any idea of what’s going to happen.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I’ll just say that the story is amazing and goes in a direction that I didn’t expect. My first reaction was to ask why, but as I played I understood why the choices had been made. Like the first game, this sequel plays with your emotions. From the true beginning of the story and the flashbacks your heartstrings are pulled in every direction. There are some characters that you hate at first, then kind of like, then hate again. Then you’re scared of characters you never thought you would be. It’s all done so well that – for me – it was worth the wait.

It took me around 3 or 4 days to finish the story and over those days I didn’t want to do anything else but find out what was going to happen next – it drew me in that much. Some elements that were in the first game, like the types of infected are back – somehow made even more unsettling; yeah clickers, I’m talking about you – , but there are also some new additions – freaking Rat King!

Now, I know that when it came out, a lot people cried out and said that it had gone in the wrong direction, or it was shame what happened to the characters or even the sexuality of characters, and some even went so far as to send death threats to members of Naughty Dog – which is just incredible and dare I say f!cking stupid. No game is worth that reaction, and the folks who worked on this game really don’t deserve it. Just because you don’t like a game is no excuse to be a d!ck over the internet.

The game is amazing. From the acting, to the graphics, to the writing, there isn’t an element that was well done. This is all leading me to say that this gets a huge 10/10 from me and is my game of the year.

What did you play this year? Are your thoughts on the games above different? What’s your game of the year? Let me know in the comments.