Friday, June 3, 2016

Hyper Light Drifter

Rating: 7.5
Happy Price: 9.99


Hyper Light Drifter 16 bit top down hack and slash that emphasizes on your ability to teleport around as your main offense and defense. It's rare for teleportation to be a core mechanic of a melee combat based game, and it's refreshing since its one of the most fun things to do in any medium. Yes, you can teleport around at will, and backstab enemies without any drain to stamina or mana, it's just apart of your character and it's awesome.


You will be taken back to the 90's where games did not forgive, did not adjust, and relied on player reactions to succeed. It's a very simple formula, the user can attack with a sword or shoot projectiles. There is a three hit melee combo along with upgrades that allow for new attacks. New guns can be acquired or purchased with a strange currency that takes forever to accrue for upgrades. There are tons of variety among enemies which forces you to learn and adjust to them as the game goes on. While playing, you will notice yourself getting better with reactions and timing which is one of the coolest things a game can do. You don't gain EXP in this game and upgrades are few and far between, so you have to rely on yourself to be better. Teleporting around and having full control of my success is incredibly rewarding and fun, the combat design is the best part of the game.

Level Design

Levels are hand crafted, and they are done very well. Lots of natural barriers for the player to use when in tricky situations, and even choke points that can be created. It's extremely fun to create choke points when flooded by enemies to even the odds. Health and currency are cleverly hidden in areas that force the player to look around and explore the world. It's almost necessary to do so, not being able to upgrade would be quite the death sentence as the game progresses. When in combat it was great, one issue I had was navigating the levels along with the provided map. It was extremely confusing and things weren't laid out very clearly. In a game that punishes for mistakes, things need to be labeled well. There were several times I would have to backtrack in areas because I knew that I had to have missed something along the way. While doing this, the horde of enemies would re appear and I'd have to recreate the magic I did the first time in order to "maybe" do something correctly. I found this incredibly frustrating because the game felt like a complicated labyrinth while having hard combat. Had this been done better, I think I'd rate this game much higher since it had tons going for it. I struggled getting through this game, especially knowing I had other games on deck like Overwatch.


I can't say enough about the artwork. The color palette is consistent and the quality never lets up throughout the whole experience. Bosses, enemies, and the environment look great. Cut scenes are fantastic, and since there isn't any dialogue the story is communicated solely through pictures. This is incredibly ambitions, and at times I don't think I had a full grasp of what was going on. But for the most part I think I had a general idea. It kind of felt like when someone is speaking another language to you, but have really good body language and you can confidently assume what they are talking about. I would argue that the pixel art can be framed and put up in a gallery it's that good.


Using the GameMaker Studio engine, this is by far the best game I've ever seen created with that tool. The combat is phenomenal with a great balance of difficulty since you as a character are overpowered with the ability to have an unlimited use of teleportation. However the labyrinth of a map is confusing, and since there isn't any real reward of redoing tasks like killing enemies that spawn in an area, it makes things frustrating since in some cases you have to do repetitive difficult tasks. If there was some way to mitigate that, it would be a much better experience.

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