A Gory Spectacle
Moonstone isn’t your typical video game. It seamlessly melds various genres, allowing up to four players to partake in a turn-based quest with real-time combat to settle any confrontations.
This game also gained notoriety as one of the bloodiest of its era, featuring incredibly graphic battle sequences and gruesome fatalities.
Magazine advertisements of the time proudly boasted “nearly” a thousand frames of animation for two megabytes of menacing monsters, alongside over 60 meticulously painted backdrops.
The Origins of Moonstone
In an interview, Todd Prescott, one of the game’s creators, shed light on the game’s origins. He described Moonstone as “a fusion of Dungeons & Dragons and board games like Talisman and Dark Tower.”
The combat system, which drew inspiration from the action game Barbarian, played a pivotal role in shaping the game’s dynamic gameplay.
A Knight’s Quest
As a player, you assume the mantle of a chosen knight, entrusted by druids with the monumental task of returning the mystical ‘moonstone’ to the ancient and mystical Stonehenge. Whether you embark on this quest solo or with up to three companions, the computer stands ready to control any unclaimed knights as rival NPCs.
The gameplay unfolds in two distinct modes: turn-based exploration and real-time combat. When in the turn-based mode, players navigate the world map, with each knight moving a set distance and visiting various locations.
The primary destinations are the numerous dolmens scattered across the map, each fiercely guarded by monstrous adversaries.
Visiting a dolmen triggers the game’s second main mode: real-time combat. Players seize control of their chosen knights and engage in sword fights reminiscent of games like Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior or Sword of Sodan. Triumphing over the monsters not only grants the player treasures but also earns them experience points (XP). These XP can be allocated to three distinct abilities: Strength, Constitution, and Endurance.
The number of human-controlled characters dictates the XP required for advancement. Alongside formidable weapons that can be discovered or purchased, players can significantly enhance their combat prowess. However, as their abilities grow, so does the game’s difficulty.
The game’s ultimate objective is to locate the lair safeguarding one of four keys. The player who successfully assembles all four keys, whether through discovery or subterfuge, gains entry to the Valley of the Gods at the heart of the map. Here, the knight faces a fearsome Guardian in a battle for the ‘moonstone.’
The moonstone bestows powers matching the lunar phase, providing the knight with an upper hand during that period. To bring the game to its conclusion, the moonstone must be returned to Stonehenge.
But beware, after a certain number of in-game days, a formidable dragon makes menacing sweeps across the land. Encountering the dragon early in the game, especially for an inexperienced player, often leads to a daunting and inevitable defeat.
Play Moonstone: A Hard Days Knight Online
The Moonstone: A Hard Day’s Knight gameis accessible online through web browsers, as well as on mobile devices and tablets.