Parents' Guide to

Hyper Light Drifter

By David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Colorful, gorgeous adventure with frenetic, madcap action

Game Linux, Mac, Windows 2016
Hyper Light Drifter Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 18+

My response to the Commonsense Review

I’ve played about 40 hours of Hyper Light Drifter and beaten the game multiple times. My response to the Common Sense review is based on my experience. I believe that the main review has some upsides and some downsides. The Positives: The review is structured by subheadings and categories. Parents are warned with specific ratings for categories of content (such as Positive Messages, Violence, etc). The review ends with discussion questions for kids and parents, which elevates the discussion about this game. The Hyper Light Drifter review ends with a meaningful prompt: “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?” This is an incredibly positive way to get players and readers to think about how the game connects us with the truth or disconnects us from reality. The Negatives: I'm sorry to say that the review on this page is hastily written and looks more like a first draft or a text message than a proper publication. I noticed spelling errors and confusing grammar/usage throughout. Common Sense Media is a review group that focuses on game content, right? The review ought to focus on whether that content is positive, negative, objectionable or thought-provoking. However, over two-thirds of this review are dedicated towards technical gameplay and controls (see the section Is It Any Good?). By filling that entire subheading with a run-on commentary on how the reviewer felt about the combat pacing, controls and exploration, the review gives a strange impression: Does the “feel” of a game define if it’s “any good”? What happened to the content? I do not believe that the review focused sufficiently on the dystopian nature of the game and just how dark it is. I’m concerned by the attitude of the review, which felt disconnected from my experience with this game specifically and with my experience with game content in general. Again, I’ve played this game thoroughly, and I enjoyed it a lot. I don’t believe the level of objectionable content is unacceptable for adults as long as we're critical about what we're playing. But I’d only recommend the game to mature audiences, and the Common Sense rating of 13+ doesn’t properly respect the safety of kids of that age. Hyper Light Drifter is not a game for kids of any description and players should consider whether the game’s positive ending (heroism, bravery, self-sacrifice for others) is worth the morose setting and imagery of death.
age 12+

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 ANYBODY mentioned that?! Hyper Light Drifter DOES indeed have a story, but it is not told through dialog, it is told through the world design, the confusing cutscenes you watch periodically and the colors of your surroundings. For those of you who want in on what I'm saying, I'll give you my interpretation: You play as a character who is inflicted with a terminal disease and your looking for a cure. You roam throughout the land and visit every deity you can think of to help cure you of this disease only for the same disease to wither the deity away before you can ask for help. Eventually enough of the deities die that the world can no longer sustain itself and it starts to fall apart around you. You fall to the bottom of a hole and are knocked unconscious, where you have a dream that the world is being rebuilt, and a dog (that I think is the final deity) guides you back into your consciousness. After this you go on the quest to rebuild the world, grabbing all the shards needed to respawn the deities and return them to rule with only your droid to help you. Along the way you'll meet a few other people who are also suffering from the same terminal illness as you. This game is by no means easy, and has a strategy aspect to it. I'll be the first to admit that I died 20 some odd times to the first boss in the game. I feel as if this was deliberate, not because Heart Machine wanted to frustrate the player, but because it would make sense in the story aspect. When you have a terminal illness that is quite literally eating you alive it makes it harder to do basic tasks that we as humans take for granted (moving for one, breathing is another.) Secondly, the difficulty is there to make you think. There are certain enemies you WANT to get in their face, and there are some you wouldnt want to touch with a 99 foot pole but would gladly shoot the laser pistol through their skull. Add on the combat mechanic of so many hits of objects or enemies with your sword recharges your gun and you have some split-second thinking and decision making to do. Once you get used to it and learn how to glean the story from what you see, you have a game made by a small company that is a MASTERPIECE in today's gaming landscape. The only reason I give it a 12+ is the theme of the game requires someone who is not only mature but empathetic enough to really hit home.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (3):

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.

Game Details

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