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.