05
Feature

Music of the Urban Commute: Designing Mini Metro’s Soundtrack

A year ago, when Rich Vreeland (aka Disasterpeace) said that the work on his score for Mini Metro (2015) would be around 90 percent coding, not many knew what he meant. At the time, the only insight he shared was that the results of his work would create procedural audio for the subway system management simulator. When Mini Metro was released with what Vreeland calls an “almost meditative” score, it had a different feel to it than I had expected. The pressure and anxiety that comes with the city-building genre, as experienced in games like SimCity (1989), were minimized by…

Radio the Future
News

The latest broadcast from Radio the Universe’s lonely techno-dystopia is here

After three months of radio silence, over a year of no footage, and a little over three years since its successful Kickstarter at the tail end of 2012, moody pixel-art game Radio The Universe finally has more to show us. Specifically, it’s a new video that shows off one of its boss fights. Since it was last seen, the game seems to have undergone another mild aesthetic overhaul, introducing new player animations and interface elements that better represent the used future setting that earned it attention in the first place. As the clip begins, the player is alone in a dim room, their…

unnamed
News

Come for the swordplay, stay for the mystery

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Hyper Light Drifter (PC, Mac) BY HEART MACHINE 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…

Hyper Light Drifter
Review

Hyper Light Drifter cuts through the noise

Silence is difficult for most of us. It’s not just screens that prevent it, the ubiquity of entertainment and distraction, or the pace of modern life—though, that and more contributes to the difficulty of easing through the din. The chaff of life is a billowy recliner, keeping us cozy against the chaos in our minds. But there is something to gain in sitting in silence on a bare floor and using the low-cycle hum around you to pluck the signal from among scattered thoughts. Hyper Light Drifter merges a sense of silence with what eventually becomes instinctive action. It’s a…

hyperlight drifter2
News

See how far Hyper Light Drifter has come before its arrival next week

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) wasn’t a tough sell. It had audiences entranced from its first trailer. A desert slashed with muted yellows and clay reds set against a crisp aquamarine sky spoke for itself. The dies irae of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem” was only there to make sure you never forgot. The first trailer for Hyper Light Drifter was different in almost every way, but the effect was the same. Alex Preston introduced his stylish action-RPG not with an apocalyptic bang but with the rhythmic chiptune meditations of a specialty Baths track. Grounded in Will Wiesenfeld’s introspective beat, Hyper Light Drifter wrapped its precious pixel art…

donut
News

The Games of Los Angeles

Our upcoming print reinvention is going to zero in on the creators we love and their current projects. Three of our favorite upcoming games are from independent Los Angeles-based developers doing exciting, diverse work that nonetheless shares strong aesthetic vision full of pixels, pastels, and bold geometry. They take inspiration from LA’s cinematic history, its geography, and their local hangouts in ways both obvious—the heist hijinks of Quadrilateral Cowboy—and subtle—the way that LA’s growth has erased much of its history inspired Donut County. You can look for more in-depth looks at the developers when our magazine launches next year. Hyper…

hld
News

Hyper Light Drifter gets a pretty, new trailer and (finally!) a release date

Hyper Light Drifter, like Rain World and a few others, seems like one of those games that exists only in shiny gifs on Twitter, so it comes as massively exciting news that Heart Machine’s mesmerizing action RPG finally has a release date. That’s right! Hyper Light Drifter comes out Spring 2016 and there’s even a new trailer to gawk at. Heart Machine launched a Kickstarter campaign for Hyper Light Drifter in September 2013. One trailer and a few gifs later, and Hyper Light Drifter spawned loads of games bearing its same bright, triangular art style and distinct approach to pixel…

rainworld
News

Rain World explodes with more slugcat .gifs

Rain World is part of an explosion over the past few years of games that express, through their pixel art, a very personal sort of fantasy. Along with Hyper Light Drifter, Witchmarsh, The Deer God, and Titan Souls, it sees pixel art not as cute but as ready for subversion, and an excuse to lavishly animate the living shit out of all on-screen characters. All of which does not mean that Rain World isn’t still also very cute, because: it is. I mean, these slugcats are pretty much made to be turned into plush dolls, which is good, because they…