After experiencing the atrocities of the world around you, a drifter, a being in search of technology, have arrived in a world wrought with death to investigate the world and its inhabitants. Hyper Light Drifter is a game that brings a lot to the table, in terms of visuals, storytelling, game play and it succeeded in every regard.
Hyper Light Drifter definitely pays homage to 8 and 16-bit games. Lush crystallized forests in the West zone, snow-covered mountains to the North, the post-apocalyptic, sandy desert to the South and the beautiful clear water in the East. The bodies of the massive Titans lay throughout each zone to give a sense of their power and the destruction that they had wrought on each of the four zones. Every moment that I was playing Hyper Light Drifter, my jaw was dropping.
Hyper Light Drifter takes the route of visual storytelling. When entering each zone there are two characters: A warrior that follows his own agenda and a character that depicts the atrocities that had occurred in the four zones. To the West is the Crystal Forest: where raccoon people tried to fight the what would be called the “Blue-skins” and the Titans but a Titan had been destroyed and the aftermath created the crystal forest. To the East are the otter people, who were ambushed, enslaved and killed by a frog or toad like race of people. To the North are the Bird people, who were a heavily religious group but a cult steeped in religious sacrifices, staged a coup and took control. The South Zone inhabitants are the Lizard people. The desert that they inhabit are filled with technology and the lizard people had discovered an elevator that lead them to laboratories and they accidentally released an threatening lifeforms into the area. The way that the zones are steeped in mystery make the journey through them more enjoyable. There are monoliths that provide more information on the inhabitants in each zone scattered through each zone in secret areas which are a delight for those who enjoy delving for more information in Hyper Light Drifter’s lore.
The Drifter is nimble and precise in his attacks but they are also incredibly fragile. A sword, gun and a dash are the only items to defend yourself with against the enemies of Hyper Light Drifter. Each of the three can be upgraded either to have a quicker dash, deflect shots or faster reload times. The small enemies are merely a tutorial on how to hone your sword and dash skills on. The real challenge comes from the main bosses of each zone. They hit hard and fast and as soon as you stepped into their arena to fight, you could be dead and returned back from where you came. Each boss fights differently. So the same tactic from one boss will not be the same for the second, which makes each boss fight refreshing and new.
At the end of it all, Hyper Light Drifter is a gem. The lore is engrossing because of its cryptic visual storytelling of the inhabitants of the world and the mysterious nature of the Drifter. The story of the Titans inceptions and their awesome power is shrouded in mystery and finally learning about them is a feeling of bliss. The push to want to understand everything pushes the game’s longevity into the double digits of hours. The game looks fantastic, plays great and the soundtrack is perfect (though sometimes incredibly loud). Hyper Light Drifter is well worth its price point now, but if it ever on sale through a third party website, I highly recommend it.