Last week, Skulls of the Shogun developer Ben Vance clued me on like this cool-looking adventure game in the style of Capy's Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery. Hyper Light Drifter is the work of Alex Preston, with programming help from Samurai Gunn's Beau Blyth and compositions by Rich 'Disasterpeace' Vreeland. The game is currently on Kickstarter, but it has already blown through its $27,000 goal and currently sits just above $191,000.
The sprite-based, 2D action-adventure is based on "the best parts of A Link to the Past and Diablo" and features a character known only as the Drifter wandering through a ruined world in search of a cure for his illness. I spoke with Preston about Hyper Light Drifter, to get a more detailed feel of the game.
Preston says it took him 6 months to get Hyper Light Drifter to the point shown in the Kickstarter video and the project is his first attempt at sprite work. I ask him what drove him to take up sprite work and create his own game.
"This is my first stab at pure pixel art. I've learned a lot," Preston tells me. "I think artist vision is something lacking in a lot of larger budget games, due largely to the pure mass of contributing artists on a project. Smaller teams tend to create focused, beautiful slices that mesmerize me."
Diablo and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past are two very different games, so I ask which side Hyper Light Drifter is leaning. Preston says the game plays "like a lightning-fast Link to the Past" and explains that a controller is "ideal" for playing the game.
The Drifter reminds me of the protagonist of Sega's Shinobi for PlayStation 2, so I ask if that's one of the game's inspirations.
"I can see the similarity. The Shinobi games are great!" says Preston. "Inspiration is drawn from a variety of sources; great classic games, illustrators that wow me and dreams I've had and wanted to live in."
In the 'Risks and Challenges' section of the Kickstarter, Preston mentions his "extreme health struggles" and I wonder if the Drifter's illness is semi-autobiographical for him.
"It's absolutely related," he replies. "I've struggled with health all of my life. I'm a sick kid, but I refuse to let it stop me from achieving what I want in life."
The game is currently planned for PC, but the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita stretch goal for Hyper Light Drifter is at $220,000. Even the mighty Shuhei Yoshida is in support of Hyper Light, so shouldn't you be? I need that HLD action on my Vita, when the game reaches its planned release window of mid-2014.