326: Hyper Light Drifter

This is where you'll find threads specific to the games we're covering in Volume Six
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326: Hyper Light Drifter

Post by JaySevenZero » December 31st, 2017, 4:16 pm

Here's where you can leave your thoughts regarding Hyper Light Drifter for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

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Re: 326: Hyper Light Drifter

Post by Yacobg42 » January 29th, 2018, 4:54 pm

Hyper Light Drifter might be one of the most aesthetically consistent games I've ever played. Like with the best pixel art, it's hard to imagine the game ever visually aging a day- the environments are so rich in detail, the little animations so expressive...I mean, the opening cutscene by itself is astonishing. Many of the environments feel specifically inspired by Nausicaa and Castle in the Sky, two Ghibli films that reckon with what happens to technology when it's taken over by nature.

It's hard for me to even separate the audio design from the visuals, because they fit so well together it seems the music might have been extracted from the pixels itself. The swells and falls of each track fit effortlessly with whatever locale you happen to be exploring. It holds its big crescendos close, only giving them at truly awe-inspiring vistas or bosses.

There is, of course, a game under all the aesthetic spectacle, and things get a little more inconsistent here. The combat is incredibly quick and responsive, but has an inverse difficulty curve- nothing was as difficult as the first boss (the sword guy to the west) I fought, and I was able to steamroll everything else pretty easily. The angle of the camera can make navigation challenging, doubly so for all the secrets that amount to "hug every wall in every environment."

There's a good amount of content hidden behind these secrets. I ended up using walkthroughs to find keys to open up the fairly enjoyable Colosseum, but stopped looking after that. I just don't think that searching through old areas for invisible doors plays to the game's strengths. Maybe it would have been better for them to be challenge-gated, hid behind particularly difficult combat encounters or the like.

I still quite enjoyed my time with Hyper Light Drifter. I played through it with each character, and never lost any admiration for the art that the game is built around. That's probably what I'll remember most; not the invisible platforms or looping dungeons, but a lonely synthesized horn, wailing over a fuschia sky.

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Re: 326: Hyper Light Drifter

Post by Simonsloth » February 22nd, 2018, 10:26 pm

I’m not sure how I feel about Hyper Light Drifter.

On the one hand the visuals and audio are sublime. The gameplay on the other hand is a mixed bag. There are times where it is fantastic and I can zip around a room clearing it of enemies without receiving a single hit. However on another occasion I could press the exact same buttons and be killed within seconds. Perhaps it’s me but the timing just seems a fraction off so the deflection and dash chain skills were incredibly difficult simply by being unpredictable. Often in the busier moments the frame rate takes a nose dive which made me feel like my character was wading through treacle rather than drifting through hyper light.

The game rewards exploration but often this involved either wall hugging or leaping into the unknown. Embarrassingly it wasn’t until about 3/4 of the way through that I realised the small squares in the ground meant secret path or switch.

The game is slightly unbalanced also in that I found the initial enemies far harder than the final areas or boss.

I only recently finished the game having been put off by the issues above. I know it received a patch which improved frame rate and introduced an easier difficulty which allowed me to complete the game. I definitely enjoyed it more as a result but the issues are still there. I’m glad I played it but I think the game could do with a little bit more hand holding and perhaps locking off areas to ensure the territories are played in order of rising difficulty. Apparently I did the hardest area first but had no idea and this almost stopped me playing it entirely.

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