Interview: Talking Shop with Action RPG Moonlighter’s Developer

We’ve had our eyes on Moonlighter for quite some time now, and we continue to believe that it’s one of the PlayStation 4’s most promising upcoming indie titles. As such, we got in touch with developer Digital Sun to find out more about Moonlighter, and what we can expect from the game when it launches later this month.

Push Square: To start with, can you give us a brief overview of what Moonlighter is?

Javier Giménez: Moonlighter is an action role-playing game with roguelike and management elements about a shopkeeper that dreams of being a hero.

Moonlighter’s something of a unique mix, being part action RPG and part shop-keeping simulator. Where did the inspiration to create such a game come from?

Well… In part it comes from our daily real life, we start as a game outsourcing development company but we dreamt of being indie developers, so in that regard we are similar to Will (Moonlighter’s main character). In terms of references, a lot of them, but The Binding of Isaac, Zelda, The Minish Cap, and Rogue Legacy were some of them.

Is there an end goal to Moonlighter’s gameplay, or can you just keep dungeon delving and stocking up your shop for as long as you want?

There is a story and an ending to the game, it’s not a pure roguelike, it’s more a roguelite.

What were the biggest challenges in designing a game like Moonlighter?

I guess trying to make the two cores of the game (shop and dungeon) blend together and synergize. I believe it turned out to work pretty well… We hope people like it!

With a focus on dungeon crawling and loot, Moonlighter aims to keep players hooked. What do you think is the most effective way to keep players coming back for more?

For us the idea is that when you are in the dungeons you should be thinking about the shop. What items are valuable for selling? What I’m going to use for crafting? While, when in the shop, we want you to be thinking about the dungeons. Where do I spend my hard-earned money? A bigger sword? An improvement for the shop? Enchant an armour?

Combat also appears to be a big part of Moonlighter. What do you think makes a good combat system?

That’s a very, very hard question in general terms… On Moonlighter we tried to have a solid combat system that works around positioning and timing. The diversity comes from the unique mechanics of each enemy, each weapon, and the diversity of room situations and layouts. Also, look, feel, and weight are super important. We iterated combat a lot during development since the first version was not what we wanted for the game.

Does Moonlighter have any difficulty settings? How hard is it to balance a game like this in terms of providing a fair challenge?

Yes, we have three difficulty levels. We thought it’s better because we want all kinds of players to enjoy the game. It’s quite hard to balance since it’s not only about the ramp up of the enemies and dungeon difficulty, but also about the economy of item value and the speed at which you can get gold from the shop, since gold is the only way you can progress in the game. A lot of spreadsheets and playtesting!

Moonlighter has a lovely pixelated art style. How important do you think it is for smaller games to have an art style that makes them stand out?

Very important. Beauty is important! We would like all of our games to be beautiful! 

And, of course, it doesn’t hurt sales if your game looks good…

With Moonlighter launching at the end of the month, do you have any quick gameplay hints and tips for totally new players?

Mmm… Excellent question. Focus on how to maximise the gold you extract from each run, without risking too much and dying. That’s the way you beat the game, being efficient at using the dungeon to generate gold for the shop… The better you get at both things, the easier the game becomes.

Can you tell us one weird thing about Moonlighter that we don’t know?

The name of the game for the first months was “Such rogue, many like”, with a very, very clever reference. We discarded that!

Finally, if you had to describe Moonlighter with just one word, what would that word be?

Will.


Moonlighter launches for PlayStation 4 on the 29th May. Are you interested in Moonlighter? Let us know how you’ll handle your shop in the comments section below.

Special thanks to Javier Giménez and the team at Digital Sun for making this interview possible ]

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