Hyper Light Drifter (XB1) Review

Catch a ride with this drifter by all means!

A strange world and an even stranger antagonist? When hearing about Hyper Light Drifter from a year ago, it looked to scratch a specific itch. One that would bring back both nostalgia and difficulty, with a vast breadth of artistic creativity. With its pastel like visuals and atmospheric soundtrack, does Hyper Light Drifter live up to my expectations?

A Zelda clone?

Story wise, if players are expecting to play Hyper Light Drifter and walk away from it with a vast grasp of it storyline or plot, think again. This is one of those titles that breathes context into its overall vibe and atmosphere by telling a story in a very subtle and contextual way. Elements in the environment, the foreground, the background, and the various unspoken pictures that characters project in the game all push for the player to figure it out on their own. It’s a more subtle approach at storytelling, and we’ve seen it before. Mileage will vary depending on the player, but I always appreciate games with this more back seat story delivery.

MSRP: $19.99
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
Multiplayer: couch co-op
How long to beat: 6+ hours

The overall flow of gameplay is one of exploration and action and will see players traveling back to the center of the map, where the city lies. This is where shops exist for players to spend points they obtain hidden on the map or after defeating certain groups of enemies. Abilities such as a double dash move or a stronger sword attack will go a long way, along with other weapons obtained from fighting bosses. The shotgun is definitely a game changer with how strong its attacks are.

Fighting is as simple as running around and using a sword and pistol to do damage to the enemies. Sounds easy, but hardly so. One or two enemies really don’t pose much of a threat, but when faced with various enemies and a flood of faster, weaker variants, along with one or two stronger types, expect to face some challenge. While the overall combat has a nice flow to it, I will admit when the going gets tough and trying to get myself out of harm’s way, it had moments of frustration. The boss battles are the worst offender of frustration. Being a boss battle is telling enough as it is, but expect to die a lot, and learning patterns is a must for anyone hoping to survive.

Lost but still found

Hyper Light Drifter is a sensory overload from a visual and audio standpoint. Add in the sublime gameplay, and even with its high difficulty and lack of direction at times and players are still left with a very satisfying game. No matter how many times I got lost or how long it took to progress forward, I always found myself enjoying my time in Hyper Light Drifter’s world. It’s colorful, mysterious, and harkens back to a time I spent growing up playing videogames as a child. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Favorite moment: The intro moments alone gave me a sense of awe and wonder, which set the tone immediately for what’s to follow.

Worst moment: Getting lost and stuck trying to figure out a way forward. Kills the pacing at times.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Nice old school gameplay
  • Wonderful world and colors
  • Fantastic, moody, atmosphere
  • Lack of direction
  • Difficulty spikes
  • No online co-op
Written by
Justin is a long time passionate fan of games, not gaming drama. He loves anything horror related, archaeology inspired adventures, RPG goodness, Dr Pepper, and of course his family. When it comes to crunch time, he is a beast, yet rabies free we promise.