Creating the World of Hyper Light Drifter on PS4 and PS Vita

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Creating the World of Hyper Light Drifter on PS4 and PS Vita

In Hyper Light Drifter you’ll travel a ruined land with a twisted past, delving deep to collect lost technologies and unveil secrets long buried. I’d like to share a few of the key components under development that make Hyper Light what it is: 1) combat that’s lightning quick, brutal and never unfair; 2) a strong narrative and character interactions expressed through visual design; 3) a rich and varied world to explore with an intense atmosphere.


At Heart Machine we’re all fans of fast, heavy­-hitting combat that requires skill and rewards a bit of finesse. To hell with bullet­sponges, witless drones and unfair scenarios. We spend a great deal of time tuning our systems, ­adding meaningful feedback in the controls, visuals, and audio design ­so they feel responsive and satisfying each time you lop an enemy in half, blow something up, or wipe out entire packs of ravenous creatures.

Each enemy reacts to strikes with visible knockback, flashes, and brutal sound effects. No weak or shoddy weapons (I’m looking at you, Klobb), no pea­shooter projectile sounds. The player should feel empowered in every encounter.

Creating intelligent and tactical scenarios with enemies is key, rather than stacking cannon fodder that waits gleefully in line to get their heads chopped off. Some enemies dodge projectiles, others deflect attacks, some (the poison wolves) attack you and vulnerable enemies as a pack. We even have enemies that command weaker types in order to gain an advantage. Each encounter should feel different, and remain challenging.

Narrative & Design

We are wary of endless blocks of text, poorly designed UI, and explicit hand­holding, which can often dilute a great experience. These leave a player frustrated, or worse, disinterested. Instead, we want players to uncover the rich mythology along with the Drifter in a more organic way, with a narrative that’s not explicit. We chose to recognize that players are smart.

We keep the systems management as straightforward as possible, with zero visible UI elements that don’t relate to the world itself. This helps to keep the player immersed and focused on the moments and constantly unfolding story in the world, rather than on numbers, bars and maps.

Dialogue and quests are presented in storyboard­like sequences, which convey a specific mood without the use of text or voice­overs. This also allows us to keep the game as visually lush as possible and break past language barriers.


Hyper Light Drifter on PS4 and PS Vita

To make the world of Hyper Light a believable and compelling space for the player, we’re focused on the excitement of discovery and conveying specific feelings while traversing each new area; you recognize that something is always slightly off, but you don’t know precisely why. A sense of anxiety will build as you travel further and deeper into this savage world.

To achieve this sensation we rely on the soundtrack, which is being scored by Rich Vreeland (Disasterpeace), a master at atmospheric audio design. It will create an identifiable and eerie atmosphere for the landscapes, and develop a darker sound the deeper you explore, pushing the dangerous nature to the forefront.

The visuals will be the other major factor in forging the tone and intention of the spaces. Each environment uses a striking and specific palette to highlight landmarks, and they’re littered with touches like reactive wildlife and intricate architecture. The world is long past its era of great carnage, but remnants are everywhere: craters from battles fought, wreckage from hulking machines grown­over, bones from mammoth creatures, tubes of rotting experiments in ancient labs.


Hyper Light Drifter on PS4 and PS Vita

Our goal to make an experience that’s visually and atmospherically compelling, has a well­-crafted story and is a hell of a lot of fun to play remains a challenge each day, but it’s incredibly rewarding. We’ll be posting more screenshots, videos and other items on our devlog and in future PS.Blog posts, so stay tuned.

Please feel free to ask us (mostly) anything about the game, and we’ll do our best to answer without spoiling the experience.

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18 Author Replies

  • Gran Saiyaman? XD

  • Justin Massongill

    This game needs to be a part of my life.

  • This is my most anticipated game for PS4

  • Game looks awesome! Can’t wait to play it!

  • Hey guys! I backed this on kickstarter a while ago. Glad to see that you’re getting some front page action on the blog. Keep up the great work!

  • Hey Alex,

    Awesome game!!! Please, can you give us a idea when it will release? Also please show more footage and maybe you guys can play 15 to 30 minutes of gameplay (with audio commentary by you guys) and post it here in the blog.

  • awesome hearing from this game again!!! Glad I backed this game up on Kickstarter! My Vita is happy (T_T)

  • if this gets a platinum trophy i will buy it.

  • OMG!!! This game looks amazing. I’m not usually into the pixely kind of games but the amount of time you put into the art makes it look incredible. You have a day one purchase from this guy! =D

  • this game looks freaking incredible!

  • I hope a lot of the extra Kickstarter goodies will be available for sale.

  • Wow! The art style you guys are going for totally has my attention. Sold on that for sure.

    Gameplay seems to compare to a classic 2D Zelda with maybe a deeper combat system??? Seems cool.

    With these types of games, pacing is HUGE!!! I’ve tried so many times to play similar games and they just don’t grab you enough from the start to stay engaged. If this can do that…. I could be really special.

    Thanks for the post guys! Good luck moving forward, cant wait to see more!

  • I also backed on Kickstarter :D
    Love the 2D Top-Down/Zelda style view gameplay
    I can’t wait to play this on my Vita/PS4!

  • This is looking pretty epic. Will definitely be getting for my Vita.

  • simply beautiful.

  • This game looks too rad. Couldn’t be more excited!

  • So… this looks awesome. I may never find the time to actually play all of the amazing games that I want to on Vita, but this will be one that I do.

  • Beautiful game, definitely a day one purchase for me. Can you give us an estimate of when it will be released?

    Keep up the good work! :)

  • @8 Stop basing your purchases on whether or not you can get some pointless virtual gold star sticker.

  • That looks quite good, definitely one I’ll keep an eye on. Of course I have to throw in the obligatory question: do you have a general idea on the price/date?

    • Thanks! End of the year/early 2015 is what we are targeting, Gorvi. Price will be determined closer to release as well, but it’ll hit the sweet spot.

  • Shut up and take my money!

  • @19 It’s their prerogative to have platinum trophies as a major incentive to buy a game. You have no business in telling others how to consume their entertainment. Live and let live.

  • I backed this game on Kickstarter and I’m so glad it’s getting some recognition on this blog. I know this game is going to be available on other systems but I’m curious if this title will take advantage of any PS4 features, especially with the Dualshock 4?

  • Wow this looks amazing. Hope this gets a 2014 release and a platinum trophy! This seems like it’s one of those games where it’s worth going for the plat, and having fun while doing it.

  • So happy I supported this Kickstarter! This game continues to look gorgeous. I’m determined to get a plat on this game (if it has a platinum trophy).

  • I’m not very big on indies but I have played a few that I’ve enjoyed and this one may be added to that list. Sometimes the smallest projects can be the best ones with a great imagination.

    BTW great music for that trailer.

  • Will there be a demo or beta for HLD on PS4/Vita?

  • can’t wait for this and rogue legacy!

  • @22 What chrisgomez said is incredibly disrespectful to the developer. They just put aside all the effort being put into the game in favor of some irrelevant accomplishment system. It should not bear repeating one buys a game for the game itself, not for some lame “trophy”.

  • PS4 indie games. :(

  • LITERALLY my MOST ANTICIPATED title. I can’t wait. This game takes me back to Boktai on the GBA and some other beautiful pixel art.

  • @30 What’s the problem?

  • Also I heard you were making this game as big as you can. Please include a platinum :)


    My anticipation for Light Drifter grows every time I see those beautiful animations.

  • Naughty Dog, Santa Monica, Media Molecule, Evolution Studios, Polyphony Digital , Sony Japan? Games AAA please.

  • So glad that I backed this!

  • Absolutely can’t wait for this game! Love the style and music!
    Been watching it since it debuted on Kickstarter and already have my copy reserved via funding! :D

  • I just love how the PS4/ Vita has become an Indie paradise.
    So many great smaller titles with huge imaginations. Hyper Light Drifter looks AWESOME….. Priced right, and i’ll be all in.

  • Glad to see your dream coming to light, Alex! I’ll pick this up for my PS4 day-one. Also, dat music.

  • Whoa, this game looks amazing!

  • more crap on ps4

  • Just gotta say, this game looks very interesting. I’ll definitely be keeping a look out for this one.

  • This game makes me so happy. >~<

    You guys… ;-;. Day 1.

  • I wouldn’t have never given a game like this a chance if it wasnt for me playing Y’s the oath in felgana. That game had me hooked and it really made me more open to trying different experiences outside of the big name titles. Anywho Im really looking forward to HyperLightDrifter cant wait to finally play this game on my Vita and PlayStation 4.

  • Wow, this game looks awesome!
    Definitely going to buy this!

  • Backed on Kickstarter!

    Those Terminatory-lookin’ robot things in the header image on the main blog page are absolutely terrifying. Somehow the pixel art actually makes them look even scarier than they would be if they were photo-realistic. I LOVE IT.

    Seriously hope that’s a boss fight.

  • This game look insanely good.

  • I can’t wait! Game looks soo great and a day 1 buy for sure. I just hope it comes soon.

  • This is a must have !!

  • Looks downright phenomenal. Day one buy for me. Thanks for making this!

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