SHORT REVIEW: PC VERSION
Go on, look at it. Look at the lovely Pixels you pervert.
I’ve kickstarted a fair few games in the past and knew actually what I was getting myself into. A tough, pixel art, top down exploring adventure. So what did we get? A tough, pixel art, top down exploring adventure.
That’s good then.
Update – Score has been amended due to pleasing updates.
The obvious… yes. It looks lovely. Wonderful art direction and meticulous attention to detail gives Hyper Light Drifter as much gravitas, as a game with triple its budget. Maybe more-so, as it doesn’t need to pander to a committee to sell the correct amount of units to the all important 8 to 16 (1⁄2) year old market. Soon as you start the game you’re rewarded with a short but beautiful introduction sequence, which brought flashbacks of Another World. It sets the scene perfectly as it seamlessly saunters directly into the game and adventure begins. The game looks nice in static pictures, but it really comes to life in action. For a ruined world, the art’s full of life.
Two important parts to this game. Two things which you need to accept, to get the maximum amount of enjoyment from Hyper Light Drifter. The first is exploring a world without much guidance, you could argue the Drifter part of the title, could be some form of clue. The second important thing is accepting difficult fights and tricky opponents. Fighting in this game is tricky and will test your resolve. Much like before, a hint, or spoiler if you will, is again contained with the games title, cleverly named Hyper. Failure to recognise these two points will result in personal misery, followed by a whinge about a score.
The most important do-dah in such a game is how it plays. I’m happy to report the controls are tight (they really have to be) and correctly balanced. You can’t spam your fast moving sexy teleport move and expect to get away with it, and bullets for your side arm are limited, although bullets recharge as you batter enemies and the environment with your sword, which is pretty consistent in a dungeon. I found it a little tricky to aim the gun, relying on spraying bullets around like your favourite John Woo film. You would like a picture? I agree, look above. Anyway I’m assuming the game’s intention was not to rely wholly on gunplay and that makes complete sense, as hacking enemy sprites to death can be considered joyous.
Yes, you could and should reference Zelda as an inspiration, but it also reminded me of Alundra (released on the original ol’ grey Playstation), or more accurately a swifter Alundra. Yes.. my memory might be playing tricks with me, as you could also say 3D Dot Game Heroes, of any other games of this type. Hyper Light Drifter isn’t simply a nostalgic rip off, with nothing new to offer. You could present this game within any era of gaming, and it would be welcome with open arms. Now I will say that although polished and individual in its presentation, the actual game itself doesn’t branch out from the template that we all know and love. This isn’t a criticism, merely an observation and I’m grateful there is a thing in this world, that can fund gaming experiences that large publishers have deemed unprofitable.
Hyper Light Drifter’s puzzles are mostly contained to accessing different areas. Bit like a worldwide heist or extreme burglary as you barge your way around the world collecting keys. Thankfully your traditional puzzling cliches are absent, as I’m not sure I could stomach moving a square block into a square hole, to open a door. Hyper Light Drifter exploration and butchery’s far more appealing then switch puzzles. The ambient sounds that accompany your journey are really very good, drawing you deeper in, but the music is the real star, it’s excellent. When the soundtrack does kick in, as the enemies fly at you, becoming ever louder, ever intense. it’s exhilarating and one of the very best examples of music matching the tone of the action and world.
The world is both storyteller and character as the delicate art of show, not tell, is woven into the ruined land. Dialogue is non-existent and not required, as characters within town and the wilds employ picture boxes, rather than words to convey lore and guidance, with points on the map handily highlighted for investigation. Credit must be given to the intricate map, as it’s almost impossible to resist heading in the wrong direction for secrets. You’re often rewarded for doing so. The game world slowly reveals its objectives and secrets and you gradually piece together what to do, and you set off with clear objectives in mind. There is a high probability that you will get stuck. Maybe a path that goes nowhere, or a boss, a locked door, there are always further paths to explore, and I encourage you to do so. The game won’t. I must insist you head back to town to try another route, as its incredibly easy to miss things or get caught up with what you’re currently attempting. To compliment the exploration the upgrades to your character are purposeful and perfectly balanced and desperately required as the challenge ramps up.
A special mention to suspect check-pointing within a dungeon. You’ll have to go in with the right mindset or you may incur light to heavy swearing. This is exasperated by niggling bugs, as death is brought to you unfairly. My character was indulging in his ‘end of fight’ pose with an enemy still remaining. I have to admit to slight unhappiness as I was forced to get through a dungeon again, bugs such as this aren’t commonplace. When a game presents such a challenge you really don’t need to be dicked around. Even with such obstructions, it’s completely worth slogging through Hyper Light Drifter, as the sense of reward for getting through the challenge is intoxicating. Again, a polite reminder, the game is a challenge.
So how to score such a game. It’s not going to appeal to everyone. Remember earlier when I mentioned your inevitable whinge about the score? Let’s see. I think it’s a 9, but if you’re impatient or don’t like the genre, it’s closer to a 7, a score any lower score then that would be dishonest, as even someone who isn’t a fan must recognise the merits of Hyper Print Lifter. So, 8 it is!
No wait, this is my review! Sod you and your infernal judgement. I shall bestow a 9. Hold on, that time Piper Height Mifter brutally cheated me when my character was stuck against a wall, getting hit over and over again…
So it’s an 8, please refer to the score guide for a further explanation. Smooth gameplay, beautiful art direction, merely hampered by niggling bugs and a minor sense of unfairness, as you’re not a mind reader, what do you want me to do now Mr Game Developer? Where do I go now?! But hey, that’s what you’re signing up for! Stop moaning.
Also, you may have grown tired of pixel art. I’m fine with pixel art.