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Hyper Light Drifter will tell its story with combat and pictures rather than dialogue

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Developer Heart Machine shared more information on its upcoming 2D action role-playing game Hyper Light Drifter on the PlayStation Blog today, detailing how the team aims to set its combat mechanics and story apart from other games within the genre.

In Hyper Light Drifter, enemies will give players dramatic visible feedback and sound cues when struck, which is part of Heart Machine's goal to make players feel empowered through combat. Rather than offer "cannon fodder," developers have built AI opponents that will lure players into scenarios requiring some tactical thinking and finesse. Some enemies will also be able to command other, weaker enemies.

"To hell with bullet­sponges, witless drones and unfair scenarios," said studio head Alex Preston. "We spend a great deal of time tuning our systems, ­adding meaningful feedback in the controls, visuals, and audio design ­so they feel responsive and satisfying each time you lop an enemy in half, blow something up, or wipe out entire packs of ravenous creatures."

Heart Machine is also building "a narrative that's not explicit" with no handholding, allowing the player to more organically unravel the story alongside the titular Drifter. UI elements that aren't directly part of the world will not be displayed at all times, allowing players to focus on the environment. The game also features no text or voice-overs, with scenes playing out in storyboard sequences.

"The visuals will be the other major factor in forging the tone and intention of the spaces," wrote Preston. "Each environment uses a striking and specific palette to highlight landmarks, and they're littered with touches like reactive wildlife and intricate architecture. The world is long past its era of great carnage, but remnants are everywhere: craters from battles fought, wreckage from hulking machines grown­over, bones from mammoth creatures, tubes of rotting experiments in ancient labs."

Hyper Light Drifter was funded through Kickstarter last September, blowing past its $27,000 funding goal to collect $645,158. The title will launch on PS4 and PS Vita as well as Linux, Mac and Windows later this year.