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The 3D roguelike sequel to Hyper Light Drifter looks gorgeous

Hackin’, slashin’, and dashin’ through the procedurally generated Overgrowth

It’s been just shy of a year to the day since Hyper Light Breaker, the third game from California-based indie studio Heart Machine, was first revealed to the world with a sick-ass animated trailer (co-directed by Spencer Wan of Castlevania fame, no less). As if to mark the occasion, Heart Machine and Gearbox Publishing have shared a new trailer for the studio’s upcoming 3D adventure game and boy, it looks as sharp as a phase-shifted Hard Light sword.

The trailer, which premiered on IGN’s YouTube channel on Tuesday, features the first extended look at the game we’ve seen. Set in the shared universe of 2016’s Hyper Light Drifter and 2021’s Solar Ash, Hyper Light Breaker is a 3D action rougelite game set in a procedurally generated open world known as the Overgrowth. As a “Breaker,” players must explore this beautiful yet hostile world to fell foul beasts and unearth new weapons in their quest to overcome the mysterious “Crowns” and their leader, the almighty “Abyss King.”

Too many made-up proper nouns for you? Let’s break it down: In Hyper Light Breaker, you hack ‘n slash enemies à la Hyper Light Drifter; glide across surreal and picturesque expanses à la Solar Ash; get bludgeoned by giant brutal bosses à la Dark Souls and Elden Ring; and can team up with up with other players to overcome challenges à la Destiny 2. See — that’s much simpler to understand, right? Especially when seen in action with this new trailer.

It should surprise no one that Hyper Light Breaker has undergone significant shifts throughout its development since it was first announced last year. As discussed in a recent behind-the-scenes documentary video produced by Noclip, the game was originally imagined as a level-based roguelike comprised of large individual areas with their own procedurally generated layouts. Over the past year, however, Heart Machine adopted a “Pangaea Shift” approach to the game’s level design: merging all of the stages of the game’s setting into one seamless, procedurally generated open world.

This design recalibration has resulted in what the studio describes as “an open world you’ll only see once,” because every time the player dies — and from the looks of it, players will be doing quite a lot of that — the world of the Overgrowth will be regenerated with a new landscape across the game’s roughly five distinct environmental biomes. It’s certainly an ambitious design approach, which explains why the game’s Early Access release has been pushed to fall 2023 of this year instead of its previously stated release window of this spring. A little disappointing, but not so long as to be a cause for frustration. All good things come in their due time.

Hyper Light Breaker will be released in Early Access on Steam this fall.

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