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Hyper Light Drifter Developer “Chose to Recognize that Players are Smart”

Hyper Light Drifter continues to awe and inspire five month after its initial Kickstarter bid enticed enough gamers to pull in $645,158, way more than the $27,000 requested. With full blown support from consoles now, developer Alex Preston has a new outlet to sell his impressive looking game through the channels of the PlayStation.

In a post on PlayStation Blog, Alex Preston says he and his team at Heart Machine “chose to recognize that players are smart.”

What this means exactly is that Hyper Light Drifter will unfold its plot without the aid of UI or any form of dialogue. The “rich and varied world” that the Drifter finds himself exploring is loaded with a deep mythology, and those who put the pieces together themselves will be able to appreciate more fully than having it explained, channeling the design of such classic games as Super Metroid.

We are wary of endless blocks of text, poorly designed UI, and explicit hand­holding, which can often dilute a great experience…These leave a player frustrated, or worse, disinterested. Instead, we want players to uncover the rich mythology along with the Drifter in a more organic way, with a narrative that’s not explicit.

We keep the systems management as straightforward as possible, with zero visible UI elements that don’t relate to the world itself. This helps to keep the player immersed and focused on the moments and constantly unfolding story in the world, rather than on numbers, bars and maps.

Dialogue and quests are presented in storyboard­like sequences, which convey a specific mood without the use of text or voice­overs. This also allows us to keep the game as visually lush as possible and break past language barriers.”

Preston also dove into the game’s combat, saying that his team are fans of games that “requires skill and rewards a bit of finesse,” and that holds true to Hyper Light Drifter.

Each enemy reacts to strikes with visible knockback, flashes, and brutal sound effects. No weak or shoddy weapons (I’m looking at you, Klobb), no pea­shooter projectile sounds. The player should feel empowered in every encounter.

Creating intelligent and tactical scenarios with enemies is key, rather than stacking cannon fodder that waits gleefully in line to get their heads chopped off. Some enemies dodge projectiles, others deflect attacks, some (the poison wolves) attack you and vulnerable enemies as a pack. We even have enemies that command weaker types in order to gain an advantage. Each encounter should feel different, and remain challenging.

It’s been so long since I’ve heard someone take a jab at the Klobb. How retro!

We had our own chance to sit down with Alex Preston and discuss Hyper Light Drifter during its Kickstarter success. It remains high on our list of anticipated games in general, let alone Kickstarter backed games. Because of its massive success, Preston was forced to delay the game into a winter release to meet its new scale, but we will happily wait as long as it takes.

Hyper Light Drifter will release for the PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Wii U, and Ouya.


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Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...


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