Reviews: Hyper Light Drifter

An otherwise strong adventure hampered by some obtuse and cheap design decisions.

Drifter is a modern 2D take on the old Zelda, except without the emphasis on using tools to progress and instead a greater focus on combat, while keeping the sense of exploration.

Combat is more engaging than any Zelda. You die in five hits and you need to find a safe time to use a medkit. You can't spam your sword and gun forever so you must be fleeting and dynamic, which is fun.

You start in a town and have to defeat the bosses of the three adjacent zones in any order. You then conquer the fourth zone and then face off the Final Boss. The structure is flexible and allows for a bit of freedom as you buy most of your upgrades in the town. There's no grinding for money since it's all hand-placed and your consumables regenerate, which removes any fluff.

Graphics and music are Pixel-art and Chip-tune. It never surprised me but it's beautiful from beginning to end.

There is a plot somewhere, but I don't care. Moving on.

Everything above is my bag however there is a very aggravating layer to the game that need not exist. There are hundreds of items you need to collect and the map tracks precisely none of them. If you want to buy that sword-move you will see a lot of back-tracking through arenas of newly revived foes. Metroid got this map thing right two-decades ago.

The minimalist aspect of the game comes to a fault as it refuses to tell you how the outfits work in-game.

Some of the arenas verge on cheap because of enemy numbers.that cause you get lost in the shuffle.

The worst thing is that Drifting (that is chain-dashing) isn't fun. It's too strict in timing and the challenges that require it takes dozen of attempts and a lot of teeth grinding.

If you want to get 100 percent in this game you'll need a guide, a map, a save-file reader, and even a change of controller if you want to beat those awful football and drifting mini-games.

In the end I liked Hyper Light Drifter but I wish it would meet me halfway more often. It feels insular in it's design and could afford to be more accommodating to players without losing its heart and challenge.