Hyper Light Drifter

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Hyper Light Drifter Game Poster Image
Colorful, gorgeous adventure with frenetic, madcap action

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Tough to glean what messages are, since you awake after apocalypse, set to work slashing, blasting at everything.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nameless robed figure emerges to help, game starts off with it rescuing you, but vengeance seems to guide it. It also implores you to seek vengeance out of a sense of justice. 

Ease of Play

This is a challenging game, with a learning curve, lot of skills to get used to triggering simultaneously just to navigate the levels. 


Lots of cartoony gore, not realistic at all, geysers, drops of blood abound. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hyper Light Drifter is a downloadable adventure game that's solid homage to older videogames like The Legend of Zelda. It has a heavy emphasis on exploration, trial and error, and lots of gun and swordplay. Aside from the cartoonish gore, there isn't much in the way of objectionable content here, but if dystopic or apocalyptic settings are upsetting for your children, definitely screen this or watch some videos of it in motion to assess for yourself. It's also a very difficult game, requiring a lot of practice, patience, and use of multiple skills at the same time to survive some levels, which could scare away some players.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bynuenjins August 22, 2017

Looks better than it plays.

The lack of being able to move while shooting and having VERY little access to ammo really spoiled the way I thought it was advertised. It has a throwback look... Continue reading
Adult Written byJoer'ct D. March 3, 2020

A cute game... with a really dark story

First I wanna say that this game is indeed gorgeous. The pixelated SNES-like graphics, the pastel colors contrasting with the dark colors... wait, why hasnt ANY... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byTy the guy June 21, 2020

Great game! Very difficult! Cartoon gore

The gore isn’t major due to the fact that the color scheme is so bright. When you hit characters the show a flash of pink or green blood. You may not even noti... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byZeleus March 16, 2018

This is good

The first thing you'll notice about this game is its visuals. They are stunning. The colour palette is vibrant, cohesive and brilliant. The pixel art visua... Continue reading

What's it about?

HYPER LIGHT DRIFTER doesn't really have a story. Certainly, things are going on and have happened, but the set-up is that you wake up as a wounded explorer in a bright and neon dystopia sometime after the apocalypse took place. Why and how it happened, you vaguely piece together as you make your way, but no one ever distinctly says anything. There's no dialog or any words at all in this game. Just a very colorful world that encourages you to poke, prod, and make sense of it for yourself.

Is it any good?

With only a few caveats, this fast paced action game is certainly worth your time. Due to the crazy action you'll need to endure and gymnastics you'll need to pull off, you absolutely need to play this game with a controller. It's doable on a keyboard, but as you increasingly need to fast-dash from one platform to another, blasting guns at enemies across the screen while doing crowd control nearby with your blade, it's just too uncomfortable and slow using the old-fashioned keyboard. It also doesn't help that the cursor used to aim can oftentimes disappear into the environment, as it's the same cursor showing where you'll dash to next. Regardless of how you play, expect to be thwarted by the controls a lot and accidentally falling off platforms when you didn't mean to, or shooting at nothing when you have precious little ammo but a lot of enemies coming at you.

While there's always a learning curve with any video game, it's worth sticking with and playing just for its amazing sense of atmosphere alone. The world positively glows and feels alive in a way many other aren't, thanks to the rippling soundtrack, marrying perfectly with the deep purples, reds, and blues in the world's color scheme. There are hidden pathways everywhere, which aren't just for show: The game's considerable difficulty forces you to be as resourceful as possible, so, exploring isn't a dalliance like in other games. You'll want to lilypad, grope, and probe at everywhere in the environment to shake loose the game's equivalent of loose change in the cushions, or small chips to power-up your various abilities. It all sounds like standard game fare, and in many ways it is, but when a refinement comes along that tweaks and balances the different elements you've grown familiar with, it rewards you for sticking with it and learning its subtleties. This is the sort of game where you'll enjoy it teaching you how to play, even if you definitely will be pretty bad at the outset. Stick with it, and it will reward you.


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the end of the world seems to pop up so frequently in fiction. Does thinking about how things will end give us more purpose or sense of anything at all in the here and now? 

  • How can you tell when a piece of entertainment or writing is over-written? This game has stand-in noises and a few pictures to communicate everything anything has to say to you. Why do artists make this choice? Why not just use words? 

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love challenges

Themes & Topics

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