Come for the swordplay, stay for the mystery

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Hyper Light Drifter (PC, Mac)


Hyper Light Drifter starts out loud—streams of stars, planet-sized eruptions, and a huge, electric soundtrack by Fez (2013) composer Diasterpeace. Then it fades into the near-silence of an open map and a drifter coughing up blood. You’re left with a headful of questions. As you push the drifter to cut through stoic enemies and dash across environments lush with secrets, you start to piece together the answers. What emerges is a language. It turns pixels into glyphs, and tells a story without words, instead letting the memories of inflicted survivors and foul science experiments reveal the underlying plot. And so, while Hyper Light Drifter might play out like classic Zelda‘s sharper, wiser sister, its journey is even more mysterious and gripping, as if you’ve been tasked with decrypting an ancient tome that holds the planet’s greatest secret. It lures you in with purple bloodstains and sword artistry, but it’s the unknown promise held within the game’s hazier details that keep you and the drifter pushing through the pain.

Perfect for: Star warriors, Zelda fans, decrypters

Playtime: 10 hours