Hyper Light Drifter

Hyper Light Drifter

Originally I actually started writing this post on Saturday. Today is Monday. This post is now about my favorite game of all time, Hyper Light Drifter. There are no spoilers in this post. There will also be "holy shit I'm moving" updates at the end. This post is for Saturday, May 20, 2017.

After a long Kickstarter period that I pretty much didn't care about, Hyper Light Drifter came out March 31, 2016. I actually had heard about Hyper Light Drifter way back when, when the Kickstarter first came out back in 2013. It looked cool but I didn't fund it because I had no idea if the game was actually going to come out.

Here's the release trailer.

After I saw the release trailer I pretty much instantly bought the game which is uncommon for me. The game features beautiful pixel art, an amazing soundtrack, and a pretty interesting story. A story told without any English words. There's no voice acting either, the story of the world and the game is entirely told through gameplay, pixel art pictures "narrated" by characters in the world, and the environment of the world.

When you start the game you are greeted by this cut scene.

If you are planning on playing the game, I would recommend you skip watching this here and instead watch it in game.

After a short tutorial you are attacked by the same being that attacked you in the intro cut scene. However, a fellow drifter rescues you and brings you into town. You are then free to explore the world of Hyper Light Drifter. There are 4 main zones in the world, the wetlands in the East, the tundra and snow covered mountains in the North, the war-torn crystal forest in the West, and the desert in the South. Each zone has it's own inhabitants, enemies, and story about what went wrong there.

You are just a drifter, hoping to find a cure for the illness that plagues you. Like the drifter that rescued you, other drifters that you meet throughout the world are also suffering from the same illness. As I said earlier, the game does not give you much information about what's going on and it's up to you to get through the world. The game is also pretty difficult. Many people said that they loved the story of Hyper Light Drifter but couldn't get through the game because it was too difficult so the developers added an easier mode so that more people could experience the game.

As I worked my way through the game for the first time I started to read up more about Heart Machine, the developers of the game. Heart Machine was founded by Alex Preston, he had the original idea and developed Hyper Light Drifter. Alex also was born with a congenital heart disease and had been hospitalized multiple times throughout his life due to his condition. In an article by the Guardian he said this about Hyper Light Drifter,

The biggest component here is my ability to tell a story I can identify with, expressing something personal to a larger audience, so I feel more connected and have an outlet for the many emotions that crop up around life-altering issues

Here's a VICE video that talks to Alex and the rest of Heart Machine about Hyper Light Drifter.

As I played through the game I saw the symbolism between a lot of things in the game and Alex's story. There's a pretty blatant one near the end of the game as well. The world is also full of multiple secrets and hidden areas, I actually found a new secret I hadn't found before on my most recent playthrough (like the 5th, also the reason I'm writing this). I also really enjoy the music in the game. It was composed by Disasterpeace who also did the Fez soundtrack.

I was once asked if the story behind the game also adds to how good I think a game is and I think it definitely does. Stories usually aren't told in a vacuum, there is a reason behind the story, there is inspiration behind the story. Another one of my favorite games is Portal and I like it for similar reasons. It tells the story of a unknown test subject who is trying to escape a maze like test facility. But when the game came out nobody really expected it to be such an amazing game. It came out in the Orange Box, a collection of three games, two of which had been highly anticipated. Half-Life 2: Episode Two, the follow up to Episode One and Half-Life 2, expected to continue on the story of Gordon Freeman, and the very long awaited (almost 10 years) Team Fortress 2. Both these games were expected, Portal was not. Portal has a very unassuming story but it's one of my favorite games because of the story, the atmosphere the game sets up, and it's absolute unexpectedness.

In the last class for one of my classes this year, every student in class listed a game that should be required for entering game design students. I said Portal but another student said Hyper Light Drifter. The game is a masterpiece, it tells a story without words, and its animations and music are absolutely amazing. Hyper Light Drifter is a great example of why I love video games, because of the stories they can tell, unlike any TV show or art exhibit, games are interactive, games are like a back and forth conversation between the developer and the player. I could easily recommend the game to anyone.

Ok, back to "holy shit I'm moving".

I'm still moving. I actually have a plan to get an apartment. I actually have a place to stay for a bit and hopefully I can find a place to live before I no longer have a place to stay. I also think I'm ready to move, besides packing of course. This week will consist of final goodbyes and last minute planning. I'm not really thinking past getting an apartment. I don't really know what my first day on June 5th will be like, hopefully I'll find out soon. After that I expect I'll just be trying to slowly acclimate to living in a new city. Also getting a bed to sleep on at some point. I probably shouldn't just sleep in a sleeping bag in my empty apartment for my 2+ years there.