April 19, 2014 10:10 AM | Anthony Swinnich
If I composed a list of my most anticipated games, Hyper Light Drifter would rank toward the top. I was pretty excited to find out it would be at PAX East, because I hadn't yet had the opportunity to give it a shot. Heart Machine had both a single player and multiplayer scenario on hand, and I'm pleased to report that they merely strengthened my desire to play this game.
My first experience in the mysterious, post-apocalyptic world of Hyper Light Drifter was in ruins inhabited by some sort of intelligent humanoid birds. The story was elegantly told through visual bubbles above the characters heads. I can't think of a game that's done this quite the same way before, and I hope the whole game gets this treatment. It will be interesting to hear people's interpretations of what's being "said".
The exploration between in a game with a setting like this is key, as the mystery is part of what drives the player on. I'm not sure I got any answers about the game's world having played this little bit, but the actual act of exploration was fun in no small part because of the dash mechanic. Moving across open pits and onto floating platforms is usually reserved to jumping in games, but here, you dash. It's a fantastic way to avoid the usual pitfalls of judging vertical distance while at a unique camera angle.
The dash mechanic is also pretty useful in combat as well. The fighting is visceral and it's easy to get swept away by what's coming at you at first, so a quick escape is a welcome feature. It wasn't so bad when it was one-on-one, or even two-on-one, as the first couple enemies weren't too challenging. But add a couple more and some bullet-firing pillars and you'll quickly learn that you need to pay attention if you want to survive. You have several options to take down your foes, like a melee attack and a boomerang-style throwing item. Survival definitely took some precise play, so don't expect to waltz through this one yawning.
The multiplayer mode that was available to play showcased several other weapons, like a super powerful rifle that takes a while to target and landmines. It was also co-op, so I was able to try and take down the enemies with a friend. The first couple times we got absolutely stomped about 30 kills in, but we eventually started to get the hang of things and almost reached 100 by the end of our session.
So far, Hyper Light Drifter is shaping up to meet the hype it generated back when the Kickstarter launched. It's available for preorder now for Steam on Heart Machine's website. It's coming out on Windows, Mac, Linux, Wii U, Ouya, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Vita, on an unknown date in the future.