“Hyper Light Drifter:” unlike any other game

Game Review

Bethany Berg, Photo Editor

Take the role-play of “Legend of Zelda.” The hack-and-slash combat mechanics of “Dark Souls.” Sprinkle in some old-school game aesthetics. Add in never before seen storytelling. Throw it all in a post-apocalyptic world and you’d have the game that has completely and utterly ruined my life in the best way.

“Hyper Light Drifter” is a 2D adventure strategy game that is hard hitting, visually powerful, includes strong action elements and wants to be contemplated to all of it’s meticulously crafted ends. But “Hyper Light’s” defining trait is also its own double-edged sword: it has no guided story. No voice-overs, no text, no handholding, no grandfather-figure showing you the way. Instead, the lore unravels through breath-taking scenery, subtle hints and vague-yet-beautiful picture-based stories. In a case like this, exploration becomes your only option. If that’s not your style, this isn’t the game for you.

From what you see from the opening scenes and throughout gameplay, “Hyper Light’s” basis story revolves around an eponymous drifter, on a quest to cure themselves of a terrible disease. That’s really all you can gather; the rest is up to the player to ponder – who they are, where they’re from, what happened to this world – it all requires the player’s interpretation. There are constant heavy themes – time travel, genocide, an apocalypse, a dog – but they’re like edges of a shape in a coloring book, where you color in your own colors to complete the picture.

“Hyper Light” replaces the traditional narrative of storyline structures that you may be used to. It instead uses moods, influenced by the whole worlds that await you in beautiful neon and pastel 8-bit, accompanied with the soundtrack to your adventure that is just the right parts atmospheric and moody. The art style and music elements are not only beautiful, but masterful in their storytelling abilities, as layers shift and tempos change as you progress.

Plain and simple, this game is difficult. There is no meter that you can change or die enough times to achieve an easy way out. “Hyper Light” is the one of the farthest things from a cakewalk as you can get. Every battle takes strategy, reflexes and an analytical eye for patterns. Until you get it just right to where you can continue, repetition will become your best friend, as the game autosaves at certain points and not after every battle or section of a room you complete.

If I can give you any solid advice, it would be to take breaks. “Hyper Light” isn’t the kind of game you can finish in one sitting if you’re not a patient player. If 50 tries on the same small stretch will leave you wanting to throw your controller against the wall, it’s time to start taking breathers. But the game itself will take you awhile to really complete. Yes, you can finish “Hyper Light” in a good six or seven hours, but to find every story, every hidden passageway, every secret that is there awaiting discovery will take you longer, but it will be incredibly worth it.

Now, I am not the best platform gamer, nor the best strategist, but I found the challenge of “Hyper Light” incredibly endearing. Looking back on my time in its mysteriously shattered world, it almost feels more of an experience of a place I’ve been to, rather than a game I’ve played. It’s as rewarding as it is frustrating, and completely worthy of standing among the brilliant titles it borrows from. If you’re in the mood for a challenge that will dazzle, impress and lead to fits of swearing that will eventually become cheers and sighs of relief, give “Hyper Light Drifter” a chance to drift its way into your heart.