Hyper Light Drifter Day One Impressions

Hyper Light Drifter released yesterday on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A 2D action game that plays like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Hyper Light Drifter gives players a sword and a gun in order to make it through a deadly and gorgeously crafted world. Read on for our first impressions of the indie title.

The Good

  • The game is absolutely gorgeous. The graphics are done in a retro bit style, but with much more detail and colour than any of the classic 8 or 16 bit games.
  • You start off with a sword and a gun for combat. Your characters sword-swinging animations are impressive, with the sword leaving a streak of blue through the air and the character’s cape flying up.
  • Combat is fast-paced. Your character can swing their sword and use a dash move without any cool down. I look forward to seeing how upgrades impact combat.
  • There was some serious care and attention put into this game. The opening cinematic is an example of thoughtful directing and framing, with the music rising and falling in time with events being shown on screen. Little details like dust rising up from your character’s steps and idle animations from non-player characters add life to the world.
  • Did I mention this game is gorgeous? The colourful vistas give a sense of depth and awe that doesn’t seem like it should be possible with bit graphics. The lighting effects are well done and other effects like wind, rain, and thunderstorms add another layer to the already impressive art style.
  • The game has same-system co-operative play.


The Bad

  • There is no dialogue in the game. Instead, the story of the world is told by non-player characters through images. It’s far too early to tell what the story is about, let alone whether it is a satisfying tale. Will the game’s lore be fully-realized and compelling, or will it instead be vacuous and pretentious?
  • The game doesn’t make it obvious where to go, but maps and visual cues offer hints. Some players might find the lack of direction unappealing.
  • I am sad that I didn’t get to play this game sooner.


The Ugly

  • So far, nothing majorly offensive or poorly designed stands out.


Should you buy it?

Hyper Light Drifter appears to have few faults. The art and the world it creates begs for your attention while the initial combat, without upgrades, is satisfying and quick. Couch co-operative play, a rarity it seems for today’s games, is a very welcome feature. At a mere $19.99 price point, it is difficult to not recommend this game to everyone, especially those who enjoy 2D action games.

Daniel Podborochynski

A Canadian who loves video games, soccer, sandwiches, reading, cats, dogs, Aphex Twin, bike rides, Fallout, Daft Punk, barbecue, and beer.

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