Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Hyper Light Drifter

Hyper Light Drifter is gorgeous and punishing

5:45 PM on 03.18.2014 // Alessandro Fillari
  @afillari

Developers of Retro Action-RPG talk influnces and development

In recent times it seems as though games in 'retro-style' are on the rise. Perhaps this is nostalgia at work for a bygone era of gaming, or maybe there's an endearing spirit and honesty from gaming's past that still resonates with people. One such title that believes in the later is Hyper Light Drifter. After an enormously successful Kickstarter campaign, the developers have been keeping things pretty close to the vest since it was funded.

During GDC, IGN hosted their Media Indie Exchange event to show off new and upcoming titles from independent developers and on-hand were the developers of Hyper Light Drifter with a new build. After getting some much appreciated hands-on time, we spoke with Heart Machine's Alex Preston, got to learn how the development of Hyper Light Drifter has been going, and how you can incorporate retro games into modern game design.


Hyper Light Drifter is a 2D action-RPG title with a deep focus on exploration and combat. Players take on the role of an unnamed Drifter who must raid dungeons, collect loot, and try to survive in the unforgiving landscape.

As seen in many of the trailers, HLD places emphasis on atmosphere and mood. We explored a level on an eerie mountain pass as we made our way to a suspicious shrine at the top. Along the way, we were ambushed by local wildlife and magic users. The Drifter has many skills at his disposal, his sword and gun combo allow for swift action close range and at a distance.

Heart Machine wasn't shy about sharing its influences. The Legend of Zelda, Diablo, and even the more modern Phantasy Star Online have been a massive influence on the gameplay aesthetic and makeup. It is a skill based game that focuses more on player reflex, timing, and quick thinking. While the staples of RPG gameplay are present, such as character growth and stat boosts, the game is about skill at heart.

"I think a lot of people miss this genre in specific, they love older top down SNES titles," said Lead Designer Alex Preston while elaborating on the combat system. "It's much more about honing your skills. In fact, we've actually built the entire game to allow players [if they want] to not upgrade your character."

As evident in the footage released some time ago, the action is very fast and twitch based. Controls were simple and responsive, and you'll be utilizing the Drifter's weapons and special skills on the fly. Initially, players will come across single foes that don't pose too much of a problem -- but then things change when you come face to face with enemies in large groups. And let me tell you, things get incredibly chaotic when fighting ten or more foes looking to take the Drifter out. The key to combat is staying on the move, and the dodge mechanic allows players to move in and out of the action with ease.

While this wasn't present in the playable build, exploration is big part of the game and the developers at Heart Machine wanted to make player choice a big part of the experience. The Drifter will have access to a town hub, where he can purchase new equipment, restock on materials, and take up quests from the town's populace. While this my call to mind classic tropes from Zelda or Metroid, the developers were very clear about making the game open.

"We're keeping it pretty open, we're not going to lock players behind too many item walls or anything like that," said Preston. "There's no order of dungeons you have to go to, so if you want to head north, south, east, or west -- you can do that."

Even though it's still a ways off, Hyper Light Drifter has already garnered a loyal following beyond its Kickstarter backers. After the announcement of their delay, they received a lot of positive feedback from fans. "We can't be thankful enough of the fans," said Preston. "When we delayed the game from our initial June release date, they were very positive and wanted the best for the game. It's crazy that we have fans, we couldn't be more grateful for all the support."

With Hyper Light Drifter still a ways off, the folks at Heart Machine still have plenty of time to fine tune and add more content. I was quite impressed with my brief time with the game. I wanted to try another go, but the line got pretty long and I had to let go. This game can't come out soon enough.



Alessandro Fillari, Staff Writer
 Follow Blog + disclosure afillari Tips
A San Francisco native, he's an admirer of the city's diverse culture and lifestyle. Prior to joining the staff, he was a contributor and an editor for his college newspaper where he wrote articl... more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Hyper Light Drifter


  Oct 10

Hyper Light Drifter preview extended until October 31

It's not too late to try it out for yourself


  Mar 14

Here's some info on how Hyper Light Drifter is going to play

Here's hoping the gameplay is as good as the visuals


  Feb 03

Bittersweet: Hyper Light Drifter pushed back

'We're all working as hard as we can within reason'


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Music Notes: "Tied Down" by Forever Still

Desert Golfing - The Model Mobile Game

Review: Pony Island

The meaning of The Witness (Part 1 of 3)

Do you even Bebop?

Cblogs of 02/04/16 + Bayonetta and some other one I suppose

Waifu Wars: Your Cruel Device, Your Blood Like Ice..

Best Kickstarter implosion EVER as dev money is spent on booze and strippers

Video Gaming Bits -- Dungeons& Dragons: Tower of Doom

Is Planet Earth more than Blue, such as An?

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

TheKodu avatarTheKodu
Still better than Aliens Colonial Marines.
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
The good news: XCOM 2 is installed on my pc. The bad news: It runs about as well as a fat kid on ice.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Get your Devil's Third, here! Hot, fresh Devil's third! [url]http://www.gamestop.com/wii-u/games/devils-third/118963[/url]
EAPidgeon avatarEAPidgeon
Glad I can support the site again with HUGE since my life is mostly back in order. Curious though if anyone knows what happened to the Merch Shop for the site.
TheBlondeBass avatarTheBlondeBass
Give me an open-world game and I'll find a way to mistreat children and the elderly.
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
What do you think guys? Text or no text?
Agent9 avatarAgent9
I'm dying of laughter, these are too good XD super Zangeif OP
Parismio avatarParismio
How dare they price her so low...
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Fire Emblem Fates special edition is confirmed to have all three versions on one cartridge, so you DO get Revelation early.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Frinkiac.com: Search Simpsons quotes, get the image from the episode where the quote is from and easily make a meme.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I ended up buying Yakuza 3 on Amazon and nabbing Gravity Rush Remastered on the PS Store. Both have trophies so I'm pretty hyped to play em.
Virtua Kazama avatarVirtua Kazama
Just finished a blog just in time for the 25th Anniversary of Street Fighter II, which is in a few minutes...
Parismio avatarParismio
Jesus Pacland in smash looks like something someone made in MSPaint. I love it.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Looks like Nintendo was selling a North America exclusive 3DS cover plate. At least, I've never seen this particular one before. It's out of stock now, though.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
So Helldivers is pretty fucking great.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Since I thanked Niero and Paladin on the site update article, might as we thank the rest of you staff, contributors, mods, volunteers, tippers, former workers, commenters, bloggers, quickshitposters, lurkers, trol-nevermind them, anyway XCOM2 calls!
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
I've got an even better picture! I'll post it in the comments.
Steel Squirrel avatarSteel Squirrel
I just have to post this pic because it's one of the best things ever. Gotta post it in the comments though.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Hits Save in blog editor.Your post currently has a publish date of 2016-01-23 11:44 PM.
Samsneeze avatarSamsneeze
Maurice White, Earth, Wind and Fire founder died yesterday and 2016 continues to make it clear that it gives no shits about your favorite musicians and people.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -