Hyper Light Drifter is a game that seemingly came out of nowhere, yet gained a significant amount of status in the gaming community quickly. It is one of the rare success stories from Kickstarter, and taking a look at the game can help players understand why this might be so. The purpose of this article is to take a look at what makes Hyper Light Drifter work on a basic level and to provide a detailed Hyper Light Drifter review.
|Type of game:||RPG|
|Total Play Time:||12 hours|
|System Requirements:||CPU: 1.2 GHz
GPU: 4 GB
RAM: 512 MB
OS: Windows 7/8/10
HDD Space: 2 GB
The World of Hyper Light Drifter
The world of Hyper Light Drifter is one worth discussing, especially as it’s attracted so much attention. The game has been well-reviewed and is already reaching something approaching cult status, so it’s a worthwhile idea to examine why this is so. A thorough examination requires looking at the game’s atmosphere, its main character, the story of the game, and how the game handles downloadable content.
Atmosphere & Location
If you’re looking for a game where style is more important than substance, this is where you need to look first. This isn’t a knock against the game, though – style simply permeates every bit of the design. The game is incredibly colorful and unique, with just enough touches of classic design that you’ll feel a certain sense of nostalgia whenever you play. It’s one of the rare games that makes you feel like you’ve been in the universe before even though it isn’t connected to any other game that’s been released. Style is the name of the game here, and it certainly pays off.
The developer of the game has been very open about the influences on the game’s atmosphere. The game takes elements from classic older games like Legend of Zelda and Diablo and mixes them through the lens of modern of indie gaming. The game’s nebulously defined world and strangely deep lore would have both felt right two or three decades ago, even if they’re a bit of out of place today. The visuals themselves certainly feels like a cross between some of the better 8 and 16-bit games released during the classic era of gaming, mixed with a handful of the more common visual devices used in pixel games. It’s a good mix of present and past.
The main character of the story is known as The Drifter, and he’s not a character with a great deal of substance. His backstory is fairly sparse – players know that he’s some kind of artificial person and that he’s suffering from an illness, but that’s about it. Fortunately, character depth isn’t a necessary trait in this game. It’s enough to know that The Drifter is suitably motivated to make it through the game, even if you don’t really get to go as deep as you might like into the details of why he has to do what he does.
In many ways, it’s better to think of The Drifter as a player surrogate than as a true character. His motivations are straightforward enough that they might as well be “follow the instructions in the game” instead of anything actually mentioned in the game’s story. The lack of depth isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, as it does allow the player a chance to look at the world from a fairly objective perspective. There’s nothing tying the player to a particular way of thinking here, so you can take the story at face value and enjoy the time you have with the tale.
There’s not really a lot of growth, largely due to the fact that The Drifter is such a cipher. His reasons for doing what he does in the story stay consistent, with no real change from the beginning to the end. You can argue that there’s at least one real moment of change, but even that’s a stretch – you finish the story as basically the same character you played at the beginning. This is, however, not a story about characters and for that reason, it seems wrong for penalizing The Drifter for not being more than he was ever intended to be.
There’s a point during the story of this game that the average player will have to put down his or her controller, take a break, and admit that he or she has no clue what’s going on. There is, in fact, a story to be gleaned from Hyper Light Drifter but the game certainly doesn’t make it easy to understand. There are not voices here, precious little communication, and a lot of atmosphere to get through. It’s hard enough to figure out what’s going on in terms of mechanics, let alone story and that’s part of what makes this game both enjoyable and frustrating.
Hyper Light Drifter has been described by some as a love letter to SNES games, so the relatively thin story is understandable. There is a storyline here if you want to search for it, but you’ll be hard-pressed to figure most of it out on your own. The short version is that you play as a character who is stricken with a terrible disease, one who is searching for a cure while at the same time being enlisted in saving the world. There’s a bit more than that going on, but it’s virtually impossible to understand without reading outside material or searching for arcane clues.
Making your way through the story, though, is straightforward. Beat bad guys until you get to a boss, then beat the boss. Gather shards so that you can level up, then use your new skills to beat more bad guys. The game is frustratingly non-linear in nature, so you’ll spend more time back-tracking and dying than you will making progress. In the end, though, you’ll get incredibly good at the game’s combat system or you’ll give up in frustration. The story, in the end, will be what you make of it instead of something that the game chooses to tell you.
DLC & Expansion Packs
Given the nature of the game as a throwback, it’d be odd to see any standard DLC for the game. The only downloadable content for Hyper Light Drifter came in the form of a patch, which did bring with it an alternative main character that was given to Kickstarter backers. As of the present time, though, it doesn’t look like the developer will be adding anything else to the game. That makes Hyper Light Drifter a complete experience on its own, one that certainly doesn’t need any additions in order for the player to get the game as it was originally intended.
As an aside, you can download the Hyper Light Drifter soundtrack as the game’s sole piece of extra material. It’s well worth a listen, especially if you enjoyed the tracks in the game.
Hyper Light Drifter is certainly not a game for everyone. It’s big on style but relatively thin on substance. If you like hyper-stylized graphics, legitimately punishing combat and a lot of ambiguity, it may be a game for you. If you prefer your stories to be robust or straightforward, though, you might want to give this one a pass.
This game’s certainly divisive and there is room for a number of opinions. If you’ve played Hyper Light Drifter, you might feel differently than we did. What did you think of our Hyper Light Drifter review? Be sure to let us know what you thought about the game by getting in contact with us today.