Hyper Light Drifter by Heart Machine

Explore a beautiful, vast and ruined world riddled with unknown dangers and lost technologies. Inspired by nightmares and dreams alike.

Every so often, a project, whether it’s a book, a film, a videogame, or whatever, crosses my path and I can’t help but stop to stare. The first time I laid eyes on Hyper Light Drifter‘s protagonist, a nameless Drifter, lounging beside a pixel-perfect fire pit, I fell in love. When I read a description of the game’s ambitions, I knew it was true love. Hyper Light Drifter is a “2D Action RPG in the vein of the best 8-bit and 16-bit classics, with modernized mechanics and designs on a much grander scale.”

“Miyazaki films have taught me that beautiful animation and design add life to a world,” described Hyper Light Drifter Lead Designer, Alex Preston in the game’s Kickstarter campaign. “From characters to background elements, everything is lovingly crafted while I hum show-tunes and squint suspiciously at the flickering pixels until they perform as intended.

“I want it all to be as beautiful as possible, forging color with the dark and eerie wastes and intimidating landscapes.”


Like many passion projects, Hyper Light Drifter has an unusual origin, Preston’s experience in living with a genetic heart condition. “It goes into everything I do, really,” Preston told Rock Paper Shotgun in a 2013 interview. “My maladies have always been my art. Especially in this game, the story revolves around an ailing drifter. He’s coping with his own set of problems, but he’s still managing to live his life and do his job, essentially. There’s definitely some autobiographical elements in the story.”

“Visions for this game have been fluttering in my skull for ages,” Preston explains on the official website for Hyper Light Drifter. “Something dark and fantastic, with giant forests to navigate, huge floating structures to explore, deep crumbling ruins to loot, massive throngs of enemies to rend, and behemoths both flesh and mechanical to overcome.”

Hyper Light Drifter wears its inspirations on its sleeve, as Preston is quick to point out. “It plays like the best parts of A Link to the Past and Diablo, evolved: lightning fast combat, more mobility, an array of tactical options, more numerous and intelligent enemies, and a larger world with a twisted past to do it all in.”


Preston’s Kickstarter campaign is long over, having raised a whopping $645,158 (of a proposed $27,000 goal), ensuring that Hyper Light Drifter will be released on PC, Mac, Linux (DRM-Free or Steam), PS4, Vita, Wii U, and OUYA. The game’s developer/publisher, Heart Machine, is aiming for release sometime in 2014. If you’d like to support the project, or preorder a copy of the game, check out the official website.