Indie developer Heart Machine's foray into a world of pixels and adventure is aiming to be more than the sum of its parts.
At fist glance, Hyper Light Drifter appears to be a pixelated, stylish take on the classic Zelda formula that's been a go-to template for game designers for decades. However, Heart Machine hopes to differentiate itself by implementing some of its own concepts, like a narrative expressed through visual design and an atmosphere conveyed by a canny soundtrack. From what we've seen of the development so far, Heart Machine seems to be on the right track.
The approach to combat centers on the idea that the player should feel empowered when stepping onto the battlefield. Fighting should feel like it has weight with strong visual and audio cues resonating throughout a combat scenario. While conflicts should be fast, brutal affairs, Hyper Light Drifter is also attempting to satisfy its audience on a tactical level. There are many different enemy types that behave differently on the battlefield. Some adversaries will dodge or deflect attacks, others will attack en masse, and others will command legions of weaker creatures.
In one of my favorite developer statements, Heart Machine had this to say regarding their game's emphasis on visual narrative, "We chose to recognize that gamers are smart." Hyper Light Drifter eschews text blocks, heavy handed exposition, and confusing UI in favor of a sleek, less-is-more approach. The idea is that the player should be immersed in the world and not be continually called out of it to consult maps and decipher their stats screen. Quests and dialogue will be conveyed in storyboard-like sequences that use color and music to effectively convey their meaning across language barriers.
The soundtrack of Hyper Light Drifter is being handled by Disasterpeace, the artist behind the soundscapes of Fez and Runner2. The sound will work together with the visuals to create a mounting aura of anxiety as players venture deeper into the ravaged world of ancient technology better left forgotten.
Hyper Light Drifter has come a long way from its hugely successful Kickstarter campaign last year. We can barely wait to get out hands on Heart Machine's creation and delve into the secrets of the future-past.
Hyper Light Drifter is slated to release later this year on PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Vita, and Wii U.