Undiscovered: The Game Nobody’s Heard of

The Indie genre as a video game standpoint has been fairly stagnant over the past few years.

Besides a few niche exceptions, the topic of an Indie game, (otherwise known as a game produced by individuals or smaller companies,) has been static for a while. The idea that anyone can produce something huge without a big budget is an amazing one, and while this stale category is inactive, something always pops up. It’s like a gold mine. It only takes patience before the jackpot is found.

An Indie game called Hyper Light Drifter is one of the most tragic yet fascinating games ever, yet the popularity of the project was relatively miniscule. Hyper Light Drifter is the relic that the Indie scene needs to look back on.

The story of the game sports an unnamed protagonist (dubbed “The Drifter” by the fanbase) that suffers from a deadly illness, which is unfortunately something the creator of the game, Alx Preston, can relate to. Preston has always suffered with heart issues, and relies on medication and machines to help him live. While developing and working with his team, he created Heart Machine, the studio in which Hyper Light Drifter was produced.

The world of Hyper Light Drifter is filled with tragedy. Environments tell stories of genocide, race struggles, war, greed, and violence, all without a word spoken. The game never uses words or speech to unfold a narrative, and lets the player piece together a broken domain. The people of the world are animal-like creatures which inhabit abandoned cities and safe congregations.

Grief is represented as a language.

Much like in real life, emotion translates much better than lingo.

While the lore is sad, the places The Drifter travels to are vibrant, positively teaming with color and personality. While this way of combining spirit with grief may create contrast, it in fact blends very well together, crafting a very believable tale of a hero conquering a cancerous hivemind.

A story taught through anthropomorphism raises arguments that might say that telling a story through otherworldly or unrealistic characters breaks immersion. This argument is quite valid; if a story is taught through animals, how can humans relate?

Well, another similar example is Zootopia, a film which is told through a varietal assortment of creatures in the animal kingdom. While the story does have bunnies, zebras and polar bears running around, at its core, it reflects the detrimental effects of discrimination and racism. This format of applying unfamiliar characters to familiar concepts works, and it certainly applies to Hyper Light Drifter.

As you navigate a futuristic yet ancient civilization, this dark entity plagues The Drifter. Many theories have been brought up, but the most common one is that this demon is a personification of death itself, taunting The Drifter as they slowly work themselves to uncovering what lies beneath the earth’s surface.

While The Drifter is unstoppable at defeating the entity, he knows the illness will kill him. It is a bleak reality, but the conclusion brings the fact that our actions last. While The Drifter’s fate is most likely not favorable, the impact his sacrifice has made will bring joy to generations to come.

That is the message Hyper Light Drifter is pushing. We as people can create impact no matter how small it may be, no matter how long it takes to get there.

A simple experience, you can finish the game in approximately eight hours. Controls are as smooth as they get, combat is smooth and satisfying. If you want to delve into the forgotten grief and build something new for yourself, you can find Hyper Light Drifter on Linux, Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and iOS.