Versatility is something that goes a long way with approachability. Simplicity in design usually helps in generating a wide appeal. Hyper Light Drifter does all of this with perfection.

We nominate Hyper Light Drifter for Game of the Year 2016 because of how we each took from it exactly the same, and entirely different lessons and understandings. The debut game from Heart Machine is, for lack of better comparison, Fez meets The Legend of Zelda. It shares a gameplay perspective with classic The Legend of Zelda, with a fitting score from Disasterpeace.

You play as the eponymous Drifter, who is clearly afflicted by some type of sickness. You’re tossed into this world and meant to wander, or drift, until you find your way. Fallen wanderers or passersby will lend guidance or paint a picture that tells the story to carry you forward. At times, these will heed warning of an upcoming boss or area.

The further into the journey that you travel, the more keys you find along the way. Like pieces of the Triforce scattered about Hyrule, these pink triangles assemble and allow you to progress into new areas and find more secrets.

You can play Hyper Light Drifter straightforward, beginning to end, and enjoy every moment. It has a poignant story and combat that grows with you. You can also play the game incredibly deeply, finding every last secret and exploring every area until you’ve uncovered and discovered everything that it has to offer.

Posted by Joe Dix

Joe is the creator of The Free Cheese. He eats a lot of pizza and takes thousands of pictures of his pugs Oswald and Earl every day.


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