Hyper Light Drifter PAX East 2014 Preview

Hyper Light Drifter

At the top of Hyper Light Drifter‘s Kickstarter page is an introductory video. For nearly two minutes, ambient music exhales out of the speaker as a cloaked, blue-skinned hero trots through jagged, neon environments. There are blues and pinks and grays. Other than the soothing score, the video is silent. Since posting the pitch and asking people to back its project, developer Heart Machine raised more than $645,000 toward funding the game, a stunning amount compared to the original $27,000 goal. Settling in at the developer’s PAX East booth, controller in hand, I heard the same ambient tones and saw the same polygonal world, just with more.

I’m walking through as the Drifter, whom the Kickstarter page informs is “haunted by an insatiable illness, traveling further into the lands of Buried Time, steeped in blood and treasure hoping to discover a way to quiet the vicious disease.”

Orienting myself, I try out an updated sword combo (more animated than originally rendered on Kickstarter). I toss my weapon and watch it boomerang back to me. Dashing and dodging around, I move forward. The game’s hazy lighting effect forces a deeper perspective. There’s almost a fog to the atmosphere, dewy and full.

A few enemies show up at the next screen. I hurl my sword and strike the group with a crunch; the controller briefly rumbles. Later on I face turret-like pillars as they lock on and fire at me. I use the dash mechanic to maneuver. The timing is a bit unwieldy and I’m losing. Screen dimming, my stamina depletes. Everything goes black.

Try again.

A rumbling door slides open as I defeat the horde. Here at the end of the demo, I stand atop a frozen mountain’s ledge. In the distance is a massive beast, dead and detailed with limited coloration. Its corpse is mounted to the side of the landscape like the shell of a cicada. Its arms and face are covered in snow, stuck in a timeless moment with hollowed eyes and mouth agape. Its size is emphasized as the horizon shifts behind a static foreground. No idea how this happened. No idea why it’s important. Lightning strikes, digitized clouds move. A flash of anime influences strikes my mind. The screen fades to black.

Hyper Light Drifter takes place in a barren, savage world. Weapons are required. Along with my sword, I test out bombs, guns, and energy-based attacks in the multiplayer mode that was also available at PAX East. (Unfortunately, my brief stint with multiplayer boiled down to slashing up statues in a practice arena before entering the open world and meeting a quick end.)

When I play the single-player mode, I try moving to different areas of the map, exploring as much as possible. I look for bits of forgotten trinkets, collectables that underline the game’s Diablo-meets-Zelda inspiration. I drift and drift.

The game evolved since gaining a sizable sum from fundraising. Its world grew. The Kickstarter page says the game is “inspired by nightmares and dreams alike.” This is evident in the layered, rich pixels peppering the landscape, as well as its hideous and beautiful monster designs. The dreams and nightmares are only beginning.

Hyper Light Drifter is slated for a 2015 release on Steam.


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Author: Greg Galiffa View all posts by
Greg Galiffa is an Associate Editor at GamerNode. He's also an apologist for the first TMNT film. You can follow him on Twitter @greggaliffa

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