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Moonstone - Prelude to Dark Souls

Another underrated classic I enjoy is Moonstone, A Hard Day’s Knight. Not just because of the punny title.

The Dark Souls games are ones I seem to revisit once every eighteen months or so. There’s just something about a brutal fantasy landscape that repeatedly appeals to me. I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is.

The reason I like Moonstone, is because it’s surprisingly similar, even if it doesn’t seem that way to begin with.

Moonstone starts out as a classic, turn-based, board game style affair. You take your turn, move your character as far as you want, and decide what to do. You have a number of lives, like most games back then. You’re a knight, on a quest. You have a vague storyline. Search for keys by killing monsters across the land, then return to a place of power for a final key before heading to Stone Henge to receive your blessing and win the game. Upgrade your weapons. Armor. Find spells on scrolls. Chug healing potions. It’s pretty standard fantasy-game style.

Where Moonstone breaks away is the combat. Limited by the original Amiga’s one button joystick, it still managed to give you an array of different abilities. Press the button to ready yourself to attack, and then tilt a direction to decide which attack. It’s an elegant system. The battle field allows for 3D movement (as much as was possible back then, at least.)

Also, the gameplay itself is not only wildly gory but utterly and brutally difficult. Even the basic enemies are a threat. And some of the more advanced ones can kill you in a single hit.

It is a well-made, enjoyable and very replayable game. But that’s not all. Because I play a lot of games, and I don’t tend to write about them here.

What prompted me to write this blog was another website I found, when looking up information from the game, called The Moonstone Tavern.

Visiting this website was like stepping back in time. And I mean that in the best possible way. This was the internet I grew up with. There’s not an ad in sight. No prompt for cookies. It’s not trying to track me at all. Why would it? It follows the traditional internet model of “I am a repository of information. Browse me.”

This site, originally built in 2002, is a prime example of the internet I miss. People pursuing their passions, and sharing their findings with whomsoever happens to stumble across them.

If you’re looking for something to kill a few days over the summer holiday, you can get the game here for a very reasonable price. And when you do, why not head over to the Moonstone Tavern to learn about the game that will spend the next several days kicking your ass.