Sometimes in life we find that actions speak louder than words, and that’s definitely the same case for Hyper Light Drifter, a game of no written words as well as no spoken dialogue. Which in turn leaves the player to interpret the entire game however they believe suitable and worthy. You will be interpreting the events of the story from all the hidden secret messages along the way to the characters you will meet on your journey, including the nameless lonely soul you control, as you seek to understand what you’re fighting so desperately for, as well as trying to understand why the world is filled with death and misery. It was a risky move to leave the game up to the player’s interpretation, especially for an indie game, but that risk should be commended and respected. While the game doesn’t pull this off to its fullest potential thanks to its vague nature that doesn’t always work in its favour, Hyper Light Drifter is a worthwhile experience, and it would be a shame to miss out on this old-school, nostalgic title.
Hyper Light Drifter is a 2D action-roleplaying game developed by indie developers that go by the name of Heart Machine. This being their first gaming project, the studio has done an impressive job showing off their talent and will hopefully get better at making even more improved games in the future. One of the main reasons that Hyper Light Drifter works so well is because it mixes elements of certain games so well, but not only that, it pays major homage to the 8-bit and 16-bit era of gaming. Some of the games that inspired Hyper Light Drifter are The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, a classic in the long-running series, as well as Diablo combined with the beautifully unique pixellated art style of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery.
Combat and exploration play a major part in Hyper Light Drifter, and luckily, for the most part, the game succeeds here, which is essential as the majority of the game is fighting and slicing your way through hordes of enemies and tough boss battles. The main goal is basically laying waste to anyone and anything that gets in the Drifter’s way of finding a cure for the disease. Combat is fun, fast, and engaging. As you take a while to get used to the mechanics, you need to learn quickly on how to be precise and fast with your decision-making, as that will be the difference between life and death. Your arsenal consists of many weapons and gadgets. Your trusty energy sword acts as the primary means of offence; its quick slash will dispatch enemies quickly. But that’s not all, you’ll come across a variety of items and gear on your journey from pistols, heavy rifles, and high powered explosives to aid you on your adventure.
It would be a crime to review this game without talking about the killer soundtrack. It gave me goosebumps at times with its soft, atmospheric ambient sounds mixed with electronic tones and powerful bass. The soundtrack suits the mood and natural tones and brings the game to life. Adding more depth to Hyper Light Drifter, the tracks used for the boss fights are easily some of the best music used in the game. Hyper Light Drifter won’t be a game for everyone, though. The pixel art may not attract the attention of some gamers, and the same goes for the old SNES style of gameplay with no dialogue and increased emphasis on using music and beautiful visuals to tell a story. This vagueness isn’t necessarily a fault with the game, it’s a purposeful design choice, but some may not like the fact that some of the lingering questions and theories they have throughout the 8-10 hour game won’t get answered but will instead be left up to the player’s imagination.
Developer: Heart Machine
Publisher: Heart Machine
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: 31st March 2016 (PC), 26th July 2016 (PS4, Xbox One)