‘Hyper Light Drifter’ succeeds in multiple areas but one

Hyper Light Drifter, the latest from independent studio Heart Machine, is a dark, yet open minded journey. It’s filled with impressive combat executions, and upgradable items inspire further progression of the game. It’s certainly a game you want to check out.

When it comes to the dark and interesting story, there isn’t much to mention in terms of following the narrative. I made multiple attempts to wrap my head around the story, but instead Drifter focuses more on visual storytelling by way of images displayed on the screen. And the only real way to obtain some aspect of the story is by chatting with local NPCs that present these slideshow cards which, at times, contain graphic images or that of destruction of some kind. So, in reality, I didn’t know what was wrong other than something bad is disturbing the universe.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing – not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s a great thing, because it truly allows the you to form your own take on the story and it remains open for interpretation.

Combat in Hyper Light Drifter is fluid and exceptionally well developed, as Drifter can hack and slash his enemies down to their very last breath, all while quickly dodging enemy fire with the press of the B-Button.

If you thought this game would involve spamming the attack button over and over again, you’re wrong, as Drifter’s sword attack is tethered to increments of three. This allows you to quickly deal some damage and escape while monsters mean to attack. Drifter also comes equipped with a pistol-like weapon, which serves to be quite useful when damaging foes at a distance. This weapon, in particular, can be upgraded to hold more ammunition than what is presented to you at the start of the game.

Although Hyper Light Drifter deserves every word of praise, one aspect of the game slightly rubbed me the wrong way: The in-game map. Yes, the map which depicts the outer portion of the game is easily digestible, but things managed to grow confusing when you traverse below ground.

Screenshot: Hyper Light Drifter – Heart Machine

For instance, Drifter lets you know where your character is and also informs you of collectibles, but it doesn’t quite illuminate the path to reach said items. Often times I found myself lost or revisiting a familiar area, only to have spent roughly 30 minutes to reach that conclusion. It can be a bit irritating to deal with, but it didn’t spoil my adventure.

With its innovative and open for interpret storytelling, Hyper Light Drifter for the Nintendo Switch is a game that you should not overlook. Combat is swift and fluid, and there’s much more to the game than hacking and slashing down enemies. Although Drifter’s map system is bound to confuse you from time to time, it’s not exactly detrimental to the overall enjoyment of the game.




  • Engaging Combat
  • Interesting Storytelling

  • Cumbersome map system

Developed By: Heart Machine
Published By: Abylight Studios
Release Date: Sept. 6, 2018
Reviewed on: Switch