PAX East 2014: Hands-on: Hyper Light Drifter

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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Hyper Light Drifter—PAX East 2014 | oprainfall

Last year, Heart Machine ran an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign for a game called Hyper Light Drifter. They raised more than 20 times their goal and hit all but the most extreme stretch goals. The fan response was overwhelmingly positive, and after stopping by their booth at PAX East 2014, it wasn’t hard to see why.

The first thing you’ll notice about Hyper Light Drifter is the beautiful visuals. Despite using a pixelated graphical style, they were very stunning. Bright colors combined with the detailed artwork to produce something that looks amazing.

Hyper Light Drifter—Campfire | oprainfall

The game was incredibly fun to play, as well. As you explore a world that can best be described as a ruined wasteland, you’ll encounter enemies to bash with your sword, like in Zelda and its many clones. The game had a dash feature that allowed you to move a bit faster. The animation for this looked really cool, as your character’s cape would float behind him.

As fun as the game was to play, it was just as difficult. The enemies would hit hard, and your health depleted quickly. There was a point where you took on four or five at once, and on top of that, there were pillars around the perimeter shooting projectiles at you. Attacking the baddies head-on wasn’t very effective, unless your goal was a quick death. Finding success in this game requires some strategy. For example, after numerous attempts, I was able to get past the mob by dashing past an enemy and attacking it from behind. All three of us there played this, and though we all had fun with it, none of us were able to make it very far. This is not a game for the faint of heart.

Hyper Light Drifter—Combat | oprainfall

One of the more fascinating aspects of Hyper Light Drifter is the way it immerses the player into the game. There is no text to tell the player where to go or what to do. The game leaves it up to the player to pick up on visual and audio clues. But that’s not all—as your health gets low, the controller’s rumble feature activates, pulsating like the beat of a heart, which adds to the intensity and anxiety levels as you progress through the game.

The music in the game is fantastic, as well. The ambient melodies are absolutely beautiful and provide the perfect atmosphere for exploring this desolate world.

Hyper Light Drifter is a throwback to the 8- and 16-bit-style games of the past, not just in its graphics, but in gameplay, as well. Heart Machine put a lot of work into making this game, and it shows. This is a release I’m really looking forward to.

About Eric Chetkauskas

Eric has been playing video games for longer than he can remember. His interests skew toward retro games with an emphasis on Japanese RPGs like Chrono Trigger and the Dragon Quest series.