The Ultimate Hybrid
2016 as a year for gaming has started off with quite a strong first quarter, and with so much to look forward to, smaller titles seem to fall under the radar unless they’re monumentally praised among critics and gamers alike. Does Hyper Light Drifter fall into that group of games? Or does it fail to create a perfect hybrid between Metroid, Zelda, and Dark Souls? I’m glad to say that Hyper Light Drifter pulls it off amazingly, making for an extremely memorable and original experiences i’ve ever had the joy of playing.
A Mysterious Pixelverse
Hyper Light Drifter’s plot is kept shrouded and mysterious, right up until the very end. There is no introduction to the lore, the universe, and there’s no dialogue whatsoever at any point in the 7-10 hour story. As soon as you hit new game, you’re treated to a cut scene which gives a few hints as to what the story is about. I’m going to avoid talking about any of the story, simply to prevent spoilers. With each small cut scene after certain objectives, a little more is revealed, as you slowly start to piece the story together. You play as an adventurer, whose purpose and origin is completely unknown, but all we know, is that we’re to activate a device right in the middle of the world for what was at the time, an unknown reason. I was constantly trying to think about what happened in the world of Hyper Light Drifter, especially when I entered a new area plagued with corpses and ruins. Hyper Light Drifter’s story is a fresh, more complex and mysterious take on the way Souls’ games handle their stories, and I loved every minute of it.
Simple, Effective and Engrossing
Hyper Light Drifter’s game play will feel very familiar if you’ve played anything related to Metroid, Dark Souls or Zelda. The game takes a page from the book of each one, and uses it to its advantage. This creates a refreshing, challenging, fair, mysterious and open adventure that’s begging to be explored and get lost in. There are 6 areas in the game, all of which sport a different theme. In 5 of the 6 areas, a boss must be defeated and a minimum of 4 modules must be collected in 4 of the 6 areas. You might think this sounds similar to Zelda, and that’s because it is, but with a unique twist. Instead of entering dungeons and fighting a boss at the end, Hyper Light Drifter has you move between underground dungeons to the open landscape through elevators. Exploring all the different routes and moving back and forth between the vertical levels is what leads you to the discovery of modules, and boss fights, and my god are these boss fights good. Each boss requires you to pay attention to their attack patterns, meaning you have to play defensively until you have a good understanding of what they do. Once the boss enters phase 2, they use new attacks and modify old ones, which keeps you on your toes at all times. I had some real trouble with a few of these bosses, but Hyper Light Drifter never gets to the point of being unfair, due to the player’s abilities. Hyper Light Drifter’s combat is simple, but unique. Your character is equipped with a sword, various guns, a short ranged dash and med kits. These med kits are very reminiscent of blood vials from Bloodborne. You can only carry three at one time, and whenever you use one all health is recovered. Hyper Light Drifter has an intuitive system where when you hit enemies or break objects in the world, your ammo is replenished (which means yes, you have a reason to break pots and cut down grass).I really liked this system, it gave combat a bit of strategy when you had to manage your ammo count when entering a large room of enemies. You start of with a simple three hit sword combo, and a single gun. As you progress, you can buy upgrades with Gearbits found in the world, including new attacks, the ability to deflect projectiles and even bombs. It always feels like you’re progressing in Hyper Light Drifter, which I absolutely adored and choosing which upgrade I wanted next with my limited Gearbits was always a hard choice. You’ll also find new guns throughout the world, such as a shotgun, laser gun and revolver. There are also different colored swords and outfits you can find in the world if you look hard enough, but they’re purely cosmetic. Once you clear the game for the first time, you unlock new game plus, allowing you to jump back in with all your upgrades and items, but halving your health in the process, meaning you can only take two hits before death.
Pixels Done Right
Hyper Light Drifter has a lot more going for it than just its intriguing world and engrossing game play. The world of Hyper Light Drifter is vast, colorful and brilliantly crafted with every single pixel. Every single environment in Hyper Light Drifter is beautiful, from flowing water, hammering rain, falling snow, lush forests and mechanized ruins. Character models and enemy design are all excellent, and the bosses look jaw droppingly awesome. There were multiple instances in the game where I would stop to look and stare at the backgrounds, whether it be a giant skeleton embedded into the side of a cliff, or standing at the top of a pinnacle overlooking the entire world, I couldn’t and don’t think I ever will get over how beautiful this game is. The game is locked at 30 FPS, but it didn’t impact my experience at all, and I honestly think it benefits the overall style of the game and its world. The music in Hyper Light Drifter is incredibly immersive and ambient. Every time I played Hyper Light Drifter, I couldn’t help but feel I was immersed entirely into it’s world. If you pick this one up, please do your self a favor and play with a decent set of headphones if possible, it truly is a treat.
Hyper Light Drifter took me by surprise-pleasant surprise. Heart Machine truly have crafted something amazing here, and in my opinion, it’s flawless. I sincerely hope Hyper Light Drifter goes on to be successful on all platforms, as it’s not only the best indie games i’ve ever played, but one of the best games iv’e ever played. Hyper Light Drifter is an experience I will no doubt come back to in the near future, and it’s definitely a game that I’m going to remember for a long, long time.
-Engrossing game play and combat
-A beautiful world and extremely impressive use of pixel art
-New game plus
-Challenging and unique encounters
Wow, my first 10. I seriously enjoyed this title a heck of a lot more than I thought I would. Dark Souls III is next, which I’m extremely hyped for. I’ll get it up as soon as possible. Thanks for reading guys, Harry.