Hyper Light Drifter is a game that is both beautifully simple and frighteningly complex. From the start of the game, you are challenged to find your way through the 2D world as you fight off relentless monsters armed with but a sword, a gun, and your wit and creativity. The game itself offers you very little guidance by the way of text, but as resounding whole, that is not necessary as, sometimes, you may need to step back in order to figure out the best way to move forward.

The game uses very little text, but that simply adds to the allure of the game as a whole. Stunning visuals and a tapestry of colors allow the player to fully invest themselves in a world that they must explore and learn to survive in. In order to do so, players must learn how to master the art of drifting and timing their attacks so that they can survive the relentless onslaught of monsters as you try to uncover the game’s secrets. Within those secrets lie the true value of the game as there are very few games that are able to create a telling story on audio and visuals alone.

With all that it does offer, Hyper Light Drifter is not without its downfalls. Mechanically speaking, there are a few times where the game may feel a bit clunky and, in a game where your perspective is limited to two dimensions, “clunky” can be your downfall. Players might find themselves trapped behind a simple tree or even walking off a ledge that they never even knew was there. Readability in a game’s environment is something that allows a player to truly traverse through it uninhibited. Players may often find themselves second guessing the direction that they are going. With that, the game’s map does take a bit of getting used to, offering two layers between which the players must learn to read in order to figure out how to truly progress through the levels.

Beyond its faults, Hyper Light Drifter does offer much by way of exploration. A key component of the game is to simply “be curious” and to explore every nook and cranny offered to you. You may die a few times in the process, but figuring out this game’s hidden gems is what really brings it to life. There are many secrets behind locked doors, so the curious and crafty will find much enjoyment in figuring out how to get into these hidden troves of treasure.

The combat of the game is very fluid. It is a prime example of “easy to learn, hard to master.” Learning how to time your attacks and dashes will be critical in your success throughout the game as a very simple error in judgement may send you careening off the edge or right into the middle of danger itself. Between your sword, your gun, and your dashes, Hyper Light Drifter challenges you to learn how to combine the three effortlessly as you weave through the enemies that stand in your way. The player’s abilities can be upgraded by finding yellow tokens throughout the game’s environment; upgrading these abilities open the door for more interesting combos and methods, but may also hinder those who have not yet mastered the three basic elements of combat.

Above all of this is a gorgeous chiptune soundtrack that brings you in and keeps you there. The music blends wonderfully with the environment, sometimes fading into nothingness before coming back with a soft and simple chime. It is here where Hyper Light Drifter truly shines for its faults are more than made up for in the game’s overall composition. If you are looking for a game that will challenge you with its simplicity but also reel you in with its abundance of creativity, Hyper Light Drifter might just be your speed. Pick up your sword and go onward.


Pros:

  • Callback to SNES era games
  • Fun, fluid combat
  • Lots to explore
  • Stunning visuals and emotive soundtrack

Cons: 

  • Game’s perspective might hinder players
  • Minimal text might frustrate players

hyper light drifterDeveloper: Heart Machine

Publisher: Heart Machine

Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One

Rating: NR

MSRP: $19.99 (Steam)

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Hyper Light Drifter Hyper Light Drifter has easily set itself up as one of the best games of 2016. From its vibrant scenery to its nostalgic chiptune soundtrack, it is not just a game but an experience. Though it has its faults, those are more than made up for through the resounding success of the game's many other factors.
Gameplay90
Audio100
Visuals100
Replayability80
Deionte Coates

About Deionte Coates

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Deionte is a writer and editor for BentoByte from Virginia. He’ll watch or read anything once, which allows him to have a very broad taste in anime and manga. Besides those interests, he plays Pathfinder and video games in his spare time.

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