Wednesday, November 9, 2016

[REVIEW] Hyper Light Drifter (PS4)

Hyper Light Drifter
Played on: PS4
Genre: Top-down Action-adventure
Developer / Publisher: Heart Machine

Helping fund a game through Kickstarter is often a dangerous proposition. Some end up not getting made at all, while others go through changes in scope or release plans. Hyper Light Drifter is an example of the latter; I was really looking forward to play the now-cancelled Wii U version, especially because of a the map possibilities of the gamepad. Thankfully, it did get released on PS4, and it very much lives up to the hype.

There's little story in the game, or at least little discernible story. Everything is mostly told through textless cutscenes, and it's pretty tough to follow. You play as someone who's obviously sick, coughing blood and experiencing hallucinations, and the plot (supposedly) revolves around searching for a cure. It's unfortunate that the details are so fuzzy, because the world is absolutely gorgeous, with excellent stylized graphics, insanely good music, and an ominous atmosphere that allows for some pretty exciting exploration.

Hyper Light Drifter plays similarly to top-down Zelda titles, albeit a bit more on the high-adrenaline side. Action is often relentless, and dungeons are very well-designed, making the gameplay loop quite addictive. Combat is one of the best aspects, as every single enemy requires that you learn a pattern instead of mindlessly button-mashing.

The search for collectibles is also quite engrossing, as the game gives subtle clues that always make you feel smart when you spot them. The lack of clear communication with the player can sometimes be a problem here as well, though; for example, you probably won't find out what exactly each new set of clothes do unless you google it up.

If you enjoy top-down action-adventures, Hyper Light Drifter is a game you should not miss. With great graphics, music, and a very peculiar feel to its worldbuilding, it offers quite a few hours of great, fluid gameplay. The storytelling and overall communication could afford to be a bit clearer, but it's hard to get hung up on that when there is such an awesome setting to explore.

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