Hyper Light Drifter takes inspiration from classic 2D action-adventure titles, however, it is able to separate itself from cliches in order to stand out in certain categories. The art direction, soundtrack, and atmosphere are some of the best found in an indie game, yet its platforming and exploration can hold it back. This is an incredibly interesting title that is more than just meets the eye.

Artistic Style

Players will find themselves in control of the Drifter, a speechless nomad with access to forgotten technology. The narrative is told from his point of view but it isn’t necessarily told, rather it’s shown. Images serve as cutscenes, with the world and soundtrack amplifying key points, due to the lack of dialogue. This allows gamers to become fully engaged with the story at hand. By being so involved, it turns into a more enriching experience.

Its soundtrack is incredibly captivating. At first, the notes are epic and melancholic, but as the game picks up, it’s quickly realized how atmospheric it truly is. Another essential piece in world building is the use of its background. The art style is able to display events, both past, and present, just by how the environment appears. Not only this, scenes are just simply beautiful. So much so that players will find themselves taking plenty of screenshots. It’s a world that relies heavily on exploration. The more that is uncovered, the more everything makes sense. Despite this, it can be easy to get lost which can grow bothersome at times. The atmosphere and story take time to uncover, thus rushing through diminishes the overall experience.

Rewarding Combat

In a title so deeply rooted in its narrative, combat is still heavily prioritized. Hyper Light Drifter is not just an indie game solely focused on an engaging story but much more. Swordplay is the main ability used during encounters, however, a gun is also available. Only a limited number of bullets can be used at a time though, so every shot counts. Thankfully, they are able to be regenerated through combos with the sword. Slashing through hordes of enemies would seem straightforward but it can be difficult to master. In order to get past individual areas, a strategy is a necessity. Moves must be planned out because simply trying to speed through to the exit isn’t possible.

Well-executed dashes must be used to successfully counter enemies without taking heavy damage. The mechanic is a bit hard to get used to, but it’s extremely fun once gamers adapt to it. Despite this, death is extremely easy to encounter. While entering the first area, it felt like an unfair difficulty spike had been introduced compared to later zones. It was a rough journey but with passing time, it became much more enjoyable.

Challenging Encounters

One aspect of gameplay is, as previously mentioned, the difficulty. The initial difficulty spike is hard to adjust to, but that feeling of being thrown into things helps players adapt to this game better. It can although, become hindered by its checkpoint system.  Often times, areas would have to be constantly repeated just to arrive at the point of death. Going through these same zones became more tedious than it was a learning experience. This would not have been such a problem had these deaths been fair or understandable.

Many times, it was easy to die by an unknown force. Random projectiles would show up leaving me questioning who shot it and where it came from causing more frustrating sections than others. Platforming was also a weak spot, moving and disappearing objects became annoying very quickly. These disrupted the flow of the game and felt cheap rather than challenging. With combat being fluid and smooth, most platforming sections hindered the gameplay.

Fans of retro classics will feel right at home with this release. Difficulty can be tough to adjust to, but it gets much easier as the game progresses. Although platforming is a weak spot, the title’s combat is the game’s strongest suit and is made better with every combo. In addition to these, discovering the world is a pure joy which is enhanced by its wonderful artwork and soundtrack. Hyper Light Drifter is a title that is sure to keep gamers engaged throughout its duration.

Hyper Light Drifter Review (Nintendo Switch)
Hyper Light Drifter takes inspiration from classic 2D action-adventure titles, however, it is able to separate itself from cliches in order to stand out in certain categories.
Overall Score8.3
  • Artistic Vision
  • Combat
  • Soundtrack
  • Random Deaths
  • Easy to Become Lost
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

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