People often forget about the Adventure genre. Its a wide-reaching classification and one which extends from the likes of Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, through Journey, to Dark Souls. Each feature a wide, expansive world full of history, a world which is gradually peeled back, layer-by-layer, by a player who is but a tiny fragment of the world. 2016's Hyperlight Drifter fits cemently into that category, and after a lengthy wait iOS players can finally get their hands on it.
Hyper Light Drifter follows the journey of a technology-clad drifter who is exploring a deadly, fallen wasteland in an attempt to save themselves from a degenerative disease. Even though you are - effectively - more powerful than everything you come up against, your weapons are only as strong as your accuracy - with your energy sword charging when you successfully land hits. You've not just got to be accurate though, speed is also of the essence, as enemies are smart enough that you frequently can't attack them front on and must instead dodge to flank.
It all makes for an experience which is about style rather than any numbers-based RPG system. Every upgrade feels like a refinement to the character, feeling more like a new beat added to a song than things to make the game easier. These upgrades, as many as there are, never increase your statistics, only your ability. This ensures that you feel just as squishy and succeptible to death at the start of your journey as you are the end - it's just that you're given more tools to help you try to manifest a dance sufficent enough to stay alive.
There's not just style in the way you move and survive combat however, Hyper Light Drifter's whole world is oozing with character and history. While you'll trek through the standard settings - desert, forest, mountains and water areas - each of them feel like otherworldly twists on the classics. Even from the desert to the crystaline forests, the colour palette choices are fantastic. Light blue waters surround the decaying marble ruins which make up The Lake, pinks and purples puncture The Mountains and sharp, brilliant blue crystals jut out of the hot-pink forests. Hyper Light Drifter takes colours normally associated with the Cyperpunk scene and sprinkles them over a post-societal nature-meets-mechanics landscape, and it is proud of it.
I've played through Hyper Light Drifter several times in the past, and was delighted to finally be able to play through it on iOS, however those previous experiences did taint my time with it on mobile. For a start, as I said earlier, timely movement is essential in the game. Touchscreen has improved so much over the years, but the delicacies of an analogue stick are not easily matched on screen, and this will put an extra ramp in the difficulty for some players. Also, and this is a highly personal note from me, I forgot about beginning pacing: Hyper Light Drifter's real charm is the speedy combat and it takes a while to get to a point where that becomes obvious.
However, if you can keep pushing on then you will find the same beautiful world that other platforms had access to: Amazing pixel-art vistas, wonderful colour-schemes, and a compelling, wordless story.
Hyper Light Drifter is available now on the App Store.Check out our reviews section to discover the latest, and greatest, games.
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