Now Playing: Hyper Light Drifter (2016)

An interesting new retro-themed game that seems to be getting a lot of hype lately. I suppose Legend of Zelda is the old timey game it most closely resembles, combined with the visual feel of old VGA PC games. In a more modern sense though, it feels very much like someone mashed Bastion and Fez together.

There isn’t much in the way of a plot. Everyone speaks through grunts and pictures and all the items and functions are based on mysterious symbols that you’re left to just figure out on your own. This is literally the most you’re told about what’s going on:

So…you’re some guy with a sword who is running around this post-apocalyptic wasteland, searching through weird mutant bunkers for these power source things so you can open a big door and beat some evil guy because…because. Also you seem to be dying of radiation sickness or something.

Whatever. The important thing is there’s a lot of stuff to explore and find and many enemies to kill.

Combat actually gets faster and tougher than expected. It’s certainly more difficult than any actual Zelda game I’ve played (well, except maybe Adventure of Link, but that doesn’t count NAMSAYIN?). On the other hand though, death doesn’t really mean anything. You just respawn right at the room entrance you came in, health packs refilled and all, so even the worst of rooms will just take a few quick retries to get through.

There were a few annoying bugs in the combat though. There were times when my character would start doing this victory pose animation that sometimes triggers after you clear certain rooms, except sometimes he would start doing it when the room wasn’t actually clear, then I’d be stuck in the animation while a remaining enemy ran up and beat me to death as I watched. The same thing happened with other room clear animations like a brief semi-cutscene occurs where the door opens and a bridge appears, except I’m still frozen down there being killed by something. I honestly don’t remember the last time I played a game with such glaring bugs.

The bosses though…some of them were extremely frustrating. There’s no “get the one special item in the dungeon and then use that special item to beat the boss” formula happening here. Just some really tough bosses who you need to smash your head into over and over again until you have their patterns memorized.

Despite the challenge, amount of secrets, and fascinatingly bleak retro atmosphere though, I found myself wanting it to end. I could easily have spent just as much time as it took to get through the whole main part of the game, if not more, going back and searching for all the extra secrets, but their locations got so unpleasantly obtuse that I started losing the usual obsessive-compulsive will to find everything.

Even worse, the things you can unlock by being super thorough just didn’t seem all that interesting. I don’t need a different colored cape or a slightly better version of a gun I already have, which isn’t going to be much help when I already killed almost everything already anyway. Getting all the Fez-like cube pieces doesn’t even get you a new ending or super secret item or anything, so why bother?

AND the game’s bugs sealed the deal completely. Map bugs ended up wrongly placing multiple permanent markers for the same cube pieces all over the map, so I had no idea which ones I’d actually gotten yet or not. So really, no, I do not want to spend another 7 hours or so going through every single location again while following multiple guides, just for little to no reward. I’m done.

Anyway, it was still a fun little game for the most part, but all the flaws keep it from really excelling as a retro-themed game. I mean I wouldn’t push my aged mother down the stairs just to play it, like I would with Shovel Knight. Just kidding, my aged mother is already DEAD.

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