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'Hyper Light Drifter,' a Challenging but Enthralling Game

At the end of March, Heart Machine released "Hyper Light Drifter," a 2D action role-playing game. It's been compared with another action RPG, "Dark Souls III" from From Software, but reviews are mostly raving about the game's visuals and soundtrack while it's a bittersweet tale for gameplay.

"Hyper Light Drifter" was a Kickstarter project from graphic designer Alex Preston. It's similar to "Dark Souls III" in terms of both games being greatly influenced by "The Legend of Zelda" and "Diablo" and both have an obscure story.

Heart Machine tells the game's story without words. What very little background information players might need to know is presented in a short opening cutscene: an extremely bright light destroying a futuristic utopia and a sick drifter in search for cure in the ruins of an old civilization.

The game's core structure, according to Wired, is that of slow exploration and fast, complex, and punishing combat. Much like its story, the game doesn't explain the controls and players are left to find out how to fight and survive the post-apocalyptic world on their own. Those who have trouble learning the ropes might need to spend some time going through the same rooms over and over again, but thankfully the game auto-saves a player's progress.

Reviewers really only have one major criticism about the game and that's it's just too difficult. Metro describes "Hyper Light Drifter's" difficulty level as "just too unforgiving for ordinary players - especially the horribly frustrating boss battles," while Wired says the gameplay can be "punishing for its own sake."

However, when it comes to visuals, Metro describes it as "one of the best-looking games we've ever seen." "Hyper Light Drifter" takes inspiration from the past with its use of classic pixel-art style graphics. The publication adds that the open world environment offers varied locations and landscapes, although the camera angle can sometimes hinder a player from spotting some paths and walls. The impressive graphics comes alive with music from Richard Vreeland, a.k.a. Disasterpeace. Vreeland is famous for his work on "REZ" and "It Follows."

"Hyper Light Drifter" is now available for Mac and PC. The game will release to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sometime later this year.

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