Aside from the occasional round of Alto’s Adventure or Monument Valley on my iPhone, I have precious little time or resources to play video games these days. And yet, there are so many great-sounding titles out there today (or soon to be out there). And I’m not referring to the big budget titles that make headlines coming out of E3; I’m referring to smaller titles that, nevertheless, are filled with style and verve to spare. You can add Below and Hyper Light Drifter to that small-but-elite list.
Produced by Capybara Games (previously known for Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP), Below is a top-down roguelike dungeon crawler that finds your character exploring a massive underground system of caverns and structures. From the trailers and press materials, it’s obvious that a lot of emphasis has been placed on communicating the vastness and alienness of what you’re exploring. Oh, and music by Jim Guthrie has a nice, ominous synthwave tone to it that’s simply aces.
Not a lot is known about the plot, but the game is apparently very difficult and death is permanent. If you die, you must work your way back through as a new character, and try to pick up where your previous character left off.
Below will be released this summer for Xbox One and PC.
Hyper Light Drifter
Funded by a very successful Kickstarter campaign, and inspired by designer Alex Preston’s own battle with heart disease (and Hayao Miyazaki’s movies), Hyper Light Drifter is an action RPG with a very unique look inspired by classic 8-bit and 16-bit games. Preston says that “visions for this game have been fluttering in my skull for ages,” and the game has a interesting style that evokes both fantasy and sci-fi. Indeed, the game’s description talks about “forgotten knowledge, lost technologies and broken histories.”
The game’s retro look — and Miyazaki-esque animations — remind me of Children of Morta, but with a decidedly more sci-fi twist. In a word, it looks fantastic. (And sounds fantastic, too, thanks to Disasterpeace’s soundtrack.)
Hyper Light Drifter comes out on March 31 for Mac and PC (preorder) and later this year for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.