Hyper Light Drifter: A pixelated and profound take on a classic Nintendo franchise

Heart Machine’s Hyper Light Drifter shows extreme promise as a unique 2D action RPG in the vein of The Legend of Zelda. The setting, art style, sound, and story weave together to create a hypnotic journey through high-tech dreamscapes.

The Drifter must search lost ruins and discarded technology of a long forgotten world for a cure to his mysterious illness. Players wield an energy sword and have access to a variety of other weapons and tools throughout the course of gameplay, a SNES style-dive against swarms of creatures and singular, signature bosses. Skilled players can play through the game with just the base weapons and tools, but the many different items and enhancements players can find over the course of the game provide major assistance.

Combat is extremely fast perhaps even punishing but it’s fair. After any given death it’s easy for players to look back and see what they did wrong. Few situations present themselves where the correct course of action is to go in guns blazing; if you use this approach you’ll just waste resources. Drifter favors a tactical approach to twitch combat. High mobility, situational awareness, and adaptation to different situations are crucial to survival.

I’ve only played through a single level of the game, but Hyper Light Drifter is undeniably enchanting this is a pixelated world that I may never forget. In an environment where people are always ranting about 1080p and graphics, it’s impressive that a handful of carefully crafted pixels can have more impact than the most realistic shooter.

In addition to a single player campaign, Hyper Light Drifter also includes a co-op survival mode where players can challenge themselves to last as long as possible against an unending tide of enemies. I’m excited to play more of it when the game releases for several platforms later Next year.

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