From the moment I started up Hyper Light Drifter, I knew I was in for a treat. The music has this eerie, futuristic vibe like something out of Blade Runner. It’s foreboding but also a joy to listen to throughout the game. It also doesn’t hurt that the game follows a very Zelda-like formula which, for a long-time Zelda fan such as myself, made for an enjoyable ride.

Hyper Light Drifter (HLD) borrows many of the Zelda gameplay mechanics to create a fun and interactive world. Some of the inspirations will be obvious in the first 30 minutes of play. Like most great games, HLD’s movement and combat are simple to learn, yet challenging to master. It’s a worthwhile challenge that you’ll often find rewarding, as I did. Everything from dashing around enemies to dodge their attacks to swinging your sword felt intuitive. The protagonist can also use a projectile weapon, which takes some time to get used to, but is ultimately a welcome addition. Attacks can be used to activate switches throughout the game too, so you’ll be coming across plenty of small puzzles in addition to the combat.

Areas in the game aren’t discrete dungeons like Zelda games, but they do have similar characteristics. I would compare them to some of the dungeons in past Zelda games that featured some underground and overworld spaces to explore. They’re very open-ended in that regard and feel more cohesive in the game’s main overworld which was nice. Just like in a Zelda game, there was a boss at the end of each of these areas. These boss battles are very challenging but again, very rewarding. It feels really good when you chain dashes together in this game and successfully navigate each phase of attacks the boss sends your way. If your life ever gets low (which it will — a lot), the game employs the HD Rumble feature to simulate a heartbeat getting more intense. It’s a cool effect and definitely builds the tension in tough battles.

Visually, the game reminded me a lot of ‘Out of this World / Another World’. It has a very 16-bit vibe throughout. The pixel work is highly detailed and well-crafted. There are several cutscenes in the game that are told through beautiful animations and that wonderful, ominous electronic music. The very first cutscene is one of the best cutscenes in all of gaming in my opinion. It does an incredible job of evoking dread and intensity while also feeling like the player is in a dream. I know that sounds strange, but to quote Han…it’s true…all of it!

The game does feature two player co-op which can be a lot of fun. Another player can be along for the ride throughout the single-player campaign. Each player has their own health bar so you’re not going to be competing on that front. There is also no friendly fire so it’s a great mode that will definitely help in those difficult battles.

Hyper Light Drifter is simply a must-play title. The Nintendo Switch version features a few exclusive features so in my mind, it’s the ‘definitive version’ at this point. While I initially had some frame-rate issues (some in single-player mode, while most were in the co-op mode), the 1.2.0 patch on the Nintendo Switch helped out tremendously. I didn’t recall any issues after the patch. If you’re looking for a great Zelda-like game with amazing atmosphere and music, you owe it to yourself to check out Hyper Light Drifter.