It’s been nearly nine years since the evocative pixel-art action RPG Hyper Light Drifter first took my breath away in its Kickstarter teaser. Now developer Heart Machine has a successor planned and it’s just around the corner. It’s called Hyper Light Breaker, it will be 3D instead of top-down, and it’s coming to Steam Early Access in spring 2023.
The announcement, made yesterday, comes on the six-year anniversary of Hyper Light Drifter’s original release. That game was a moody mashup of gorgeous pixel art, haunting electronic music, and a Zelda-inspired overworld filled with monsters, secrets, and minimal explanation. It’s too soon to tell if Hyper Light Breaker will channel a similarly intriguing mix, but the first screenshots look excellent and Mutant Mudds composer Troupe Gammage will be providing the soundscapes.
Here’s the animated trailer:
Heart Machine first made the jump to 3D with last year’s Solar Ash, an adventure platformer about using vision and grace to save a planet from sinister cosmic forces. Hyper Light Breaker will invoke a similarly vibrant and kinetic visual style, creative director Alx Preston told IGN, but with a heavier focus on RPG systems and mechanics. It also aims to include multiplayer co-op.
“And when we say online cooperative play, we mean multiple players, not just you and another person; we’re looking at a group of players that can go out and kill some monsters together,” Preston said.
That would certainly bring it more in line with Borderlands, the marquee franchise of publishing partner Gearbox, who Heart Machine is collaborating with for the Unreal Engine-made game. It’s unclear if that’s just a coincidence, but Hyper Light Breaker’s look definitely has something of the blockbuster loot shooter series about it.
Whatever the outcome, I hope the game manages to conjure something of the original game’s understated mystique and unspoken magic. There haven’t been many games like it since. Tunic is the closest that comes to mind, but I wouldn’t say no to more than two of those minimalist indie homages every six years. I will miss Disasterpeace though.