Hyper Light Drifter Keeps Me Coming Back

Hyper Light Drifter is backbreaking, but never needlessly so. The dash-and-slash game is in equal parts elegantly designed and punishing, posing the fairest challenge I've ever encountered in a game. A year post-release, Hyper Light Drifter's clean (and ball-busting) gameplay still has me addicted to the adrenaline rush.

Hyper Light Drifter

I picked up Hyper Light Drifter a little after it came out last March. Its simple mechanics were an immediate pull: One button to dash, one button to attack with a sword. By slashing monsters, you charge your gun. There are upgrades and things, but those three moves define the gameplay. Menus are easily avoided, for the most part.

Hyper Light Drifter follows a mysterious protagonist, a Drifter, through the North, South, East and West zones, each with their own set of monsters and dungeons. Often, the Drifter is enclosed in small spaces with dozens of enemies, which he has to dodge, slash and shoot in perfect rhythm. I die, a lot. The music doesn't even pause.

A year later, I've come back for this rhythm. I'm playing through the boss fights, savouring each challenge in all its sadism. On the North map, a vulture boss takes turns sending hordes of minion birds at me and cracking open floor tiles with his staff, which I barely dodge. Slashing the birds and charging my gun, I became absorbed in the rhythm of shoot, dodge, slash that I try over and over to perfect. Hyper Light Drifter is so polished that dying never feels unfair, building up a fierce adrenaline rush. When I finally win and come up for breath, after 15 tries, that rush is unparalleled.

I feel safe in the state of heightened "flow" Hyper Light Drifter inspires. Rarely does a game feel so smooth that there is nothing separating me from complete immersion. Rarely do victories and defeats feel so straightforward and entirely deserved. I'll come back to this game for years seeking that same rush, and I know that Hyper Light Drifter will not let me down.


Comments

    C'mon Heart Machine! This game needs a sequel.

    Even got addicted to the soccer - pong mini game bit

    YES! I love this game! For me it was GOTY. I actually email heart machine and begged them to port this to the Switch. Playing this on the go would be worth the console alone.

    Just bought this yesterday while it's on sale on PSN. Haven't played it yet, but I've been looking forward to it for ages.

    I was surprised to find I liked Titan Souls when it was free on ps+, and while it's not the same... I think I need this.

    Just got the ultimate chain dash achievement, with a Xbox one controller, I think that's the hardest one I've had to do yet

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