With the release of Dark Souls 3 around the corner, we take a look at a genre of games that has been cropping up over the last couple of years. “Souls-like” games have become a mainstay in people’s gaming libraries; notoriously difficult to play and impossible to master, the masochistic few of us that enjoy these games pour into the perfect run.
Hyper Light Drifter follows our protagonist through a broken world, filled with monsters and traps that are as hazardous to the characters health as the illness that is ravaging his body. Simply known as the Drifter, he must make his way into the lands of Buried Time to try and find a cure for his illness.
Mechanically the game is a hack and slash, quick melee attacks that stun smaller enemies while bigger opponents need more of a hit and run tactics. Every early into the game the player with gain access to a gun, which is recharged through usage of the sword which helps to dispatch peskier ranged enemies. The Drifter can also dodge around the screen, making it easier to get in and out of stick situations. The dodge is also his primary tool for traversing gaps around the world.
Gear bits can be found throughout the world, four of which creates a whole bit and can be cashed in to upgrade the Drifter, either upgrading his movement, attacks, or purchasing more slots for his health kit.
The world itself is expansive, hidden items and areas that dig deeper into the world lore are scattered about to be found at the player’s discretion, sometimes paths are invisible and need a different view of the situation before being revealed or other times just a simple bit of exploration to find that hidden switch is needed. While playing, I’ve found that the game breaks down segments nicely. Traveling segments that are filled with a few enemies, keep you on your toes as you make your way to the more heavily action segments that are filled with so many enemies and traps to test your skill and patients, as dying takes you right back to the beginning of a segment, did I forget to mention checkpoints are few and far between?
The most interesting design choice of the game is the lack of dialogue, instead characters interact with pictograph, showing the player just what happens to the denizens of the world instead of blocks of text to provide context.
Hyper Light Drifter is one of those games that take a bit of time to get down. Using a mouse and keyboard I quickly found that the Drifter will dash towards where ever my mouse was pointed, at that time it was off a cliff face. If you like a little bit of a challenge and have a few hours on hand, I highly suggest Hyper Light Drifter as a go to. That is, until you pull your hair out of frustration… Then you should probably take a break.