PlayStation VR

Mar 14

Mar 14

Creating the World of Hyper Light Drifter on PS4 and PS Vita

Alex Preston's Avatar Posted by Head of Heart Machine

In Hyper Light Drifter you’ll travel a ruined land with a twisted past, delving deep to collect lost technologies and unveil secrets long buried. I’d like to share a few of the key components under development that make Hyper Light what it is: 1) combat that’s lightning quick, brutal and never unfair; 2) a strong narrative and character interactions expressed through visual design; 3) a rich and varied world to explore with an intense atmosphere.


At Heart Machine we’re all fans of fast, heavy­-hitting combat that requires skill and rewards a bit of finesse. To hell with bullet­sponges, witless drones and unfair scenarios. We spend a great deal of time tuning our systems, ­adding meaningful feedback in the controls, visuals, and audio design ­so they feel responsive and satisfying each time you lop an enemy in half, blow something up, or wipe out entire packs of ravenous creatures.

Each enemy reacts to strikes with visible knockback, flashes, and brutal sound effects. No weak or shoddy weapons (I’m looking at you, Klobb), no pea­shooter projectile sounds. The player should feel empowered in every encounter.

Creating intelligent and tactical scenarios with enemies is key, rather than stacking cannon fodder that waits gleefully in line to get their heads chopped off. Some enemies dodge projectiles, others deflect attacks, some (the poison wolves) attack you and vulnerable enemies as a pack. We even have enemies that command weaker types in order to gain an advantage. Each encounter should feel different, and remain challenging.

Narrative & Design

We are wary of endless blocks of text, poorly designed UI, and explicit hand­holding, which can often dilute a great experience. These leave a player frustrated, or worse, disinterested. Instead, we want players to uncover the rich mythology along with the Drifter in a more organic way, with a narrative that’s not explicit. We chose to recognize that players are smart.

We keep the systems management as straightforward as possible, with zero visible UI elements that don’t relate to the world itself. This helps to keep the player immersed and focused on the moments and constantly unfolding story in the world, rather than on numbers, bars and maps.

Dialogue and quests are presented in storyboard­like sequences, which convey a specific mood without the use of text or voice­overs. This also allows us to keep the game as visually lush as possible and break past language barriers.


Hyper Light Drifter on PS4 and PS Vita

To make the world of Hyper Light a believable and compelling space for the player, we’re focused on the excitement of discovery and conveying specific feelings while traversing each new area; you recognize that something is always slightly off, but you don’t know precisely why. A sense of anxiety will build as you travel further and deeper into this savage world.

To achieve this sensation we rely on the soundtrack, which is being scored by Rich Vreeland (Disasterpeace), a master at atmospheric audio design. It will create an identifiable and eerie atmosphere for the landscapes, and develop a darker sound the deeper you explore, pushing the dangerous nature to the forefront.

The visuals will be the other major factor in forging the tone and intention of the spaces. Each environment uses a striking and specific palette to highlight landmarks, and they’re littered with touches like reactive wildlife and intricate architecture. The world is long past its era of great carnage, but remnants are everywhere: craters from battles fought, wreckage from hulking machines grown­over, bones from mammoth creatures, tubes of rotting experiments in ancient labs.


Hyper Light Drifter on PS4 and PS Vita

Our goal to make an experience that’s visually and atmospherically compelling, has a well­-crafted story and is a hell of a lot of fun to play remains a challenge each day, but it’s incredibly rewarding. We’ll be posting more screenshots, videos and other items on our devlog and in future PS.Blog posts, so stay tuned.

Please feel free to ask us (mostly) anything about the game, and we’ll do our best to answer without spoiling the experience.

Add Your Own

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RenderMonk said:

March 15th, 5:27 pm

That sound track was totally wicked!! Love the look and feel of the game too, can’t wait to play it.

binarydivision said:

March 15th, 6:28 pm

So much goodness is ahead for the PS universe. Feels good man.

kurosaki87 said:

March 16th, 9:14 am

This game reminds me so much of Boktai on GBA.
My God, this and N++ are my two most anticipated PSN Digital Titles this year!!

EDfromRED1 said:

March 16th, 9:16 pm

I didn’t know anything about this game until I saw the trailer..WoW!!
This game looks so compelling and strange and wonderful.
I can’t freaking wait to play it.

BlawxEX said:

March 17th, 7:51 am

This game looks so good! Definitely going to buy it on day one. So much goodness.

Peerinward said:

March 17th, 1:23 pm


Please tell me what is wrong with wanting to buy a game merely for its platinum. Please tell me what is wrong with being an exceptional dentist just for the money. What is wrong? What is wrong with being one’s self and different from you? What on earth is wrong with that? How is it causing hurt upon others? Please, please, please give me an answer.

Your emotionally-driven responses in, “they are just virtual stickers,” to a nonchalant comment are just pointless fluff in your words. Your mind cannot focus on the impetus at hand and resorts to attempts at insulting people who are doing no harm to others simply because they don’t think like you. Open your mind, Mjolnirs, and learn to live with the fact that there are people out there with mutual as well as varying views and interests. You are seriously forcing your perspective on someone like an atheist is forcing his beliefs down a Christian’s throat.

Peerinward said:

March 17th, 1:24 pm

Like I said, we know that games don’t come out of a vacuum in space. But you know what else doesn’t come out of thin air? Money. Buying a game isn’t a one-way street. The developer/publisher isn’t above the consumer, nor is it the other way around. If someone wants to practice Christianity and not actively harm non-believers, you leave them alone and let them live. If they decide to not include a platinum trophy, that’s their right because it is their game. If a consumer does not want to buy the game because of that, that is ALSO their right because it is their money. Let it go and open your mind. Games are not an authoritarian industry.

Nade_IL said:

March 18th, 6:09 am

The game looks amazing and its my most anticipated game for this year!
Is there any way I can throw my money at you and get some goodies for the ps4 version?

HallowSeeker said:

March 21st, 8:01 pm

This is the first “Indie” game I really want to play. This game makes pixels breathtaking! And it looks like it has a great story attached. Really hope it gets on IGC, god I actually said I want another game on IGC, if not I will definitely buy it. Immediately thinking of Legend of Zelda games and how excited I get whenever there’s a new one. PS Plus, take note, THIS is the kind game Plus member’s would sincerely appreciate having on IGC, Can’t wait till this comes out.

odd69 said:

March 22nd, 10:25 pm

I’m getting this day one also. Alot of good games are coming out of nowhere.I just wish they would release starting next Tuesday

Twelve-sa said:

March 23rd, 12:13 pm

so far i’m glad i cast my lot in this project, looks very promising.

is there a chance for a co-op or a multiplayer here ? this game feels like its going to be a cave story challenge with a journey amount of feels :D

WigSplitter1987 said:

March 26th, 3:11 pm


I’ve had a strong connection with this game since it popped onto my radar, I’m sorry to say that I did not back it but I will no doubt be purchasing it day one. I saw your interview for rockpapershotgun and like many of the people looking forward to this game I am able to relate somewhat. Even putting health issues aside, I think many gamers have been carrying around a certain feeling for what would make a great game, but for most of us it never moves beyond that feeling. Kudos for channeling those feelings into thought and managing to follow through to actually create the kind of game we all wish we could.

I do have one question, I am interested in knowing approximately how long you expect the game to last? A generic question, no doubt, and it would not change my intentions of purchasing it, but knowing what kind of length to expect will help me to look forward to it in the right way. Are we talking 2-3 hours experience, 6-12 hours or a 20+ hour marathon?

Keep up the great work, guys!

Allrhyme said:

March 27th, 4:33 pm

Can’t wait for more updates and huge thanks to Sony for throwing support behind this amazing title. HeartmachineZ you rock!!!

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