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Played in 2023
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i love elaborate scheming. this is a great game for elaborate scheming fans. also i have only ever played with the elder kings mod where you can do fun things like play as an adorable little kitty, buy hrt at the alchemy shop, kill your enemies with magic, get gay married, and become an immortal lich. so that may have enhanced my experience
yesterday i felt like i should really get to some of the stuff in my backlog, there's tons of stuff sitting there that i would have a great time with that i really have no excuse not to play. so what did i do? i replayed the game i had already played 4 or 5 times instead.
usually when i play a game too much, get really familiar with everything about the game, i start to see its cracks more clearly. i might cool down on it a bit. i guess that happened with Hyper Light Drifter, but only in that it went from my absolute favorite game to just a solid top 10. this game does everything that matters very, very well. the aesthetic and presentation alone could carry the game - the visuals are phenomenal, the music isn't something i'd usually go for but it perfectly fits into the game, and everything comes together to create a perfect atmosphere for just about every area. the gameplay has flaws, but is well designed, with the combat the highlight. there are certainly a few issues, bugs and things mostly, but they don't really detract from everything the game does great. my single biggest issue with it is occasional input inconsistency, which can turn one attack into another and throw you off if it's a particularly intense fight. apart from that infrequent issue, the combat is just about the best i've ever played. the harder fights can get pretty damn hard, but they feel great to master. challenging fights aren't even something i usually care much about in games, but something about HLD's combat just perfectly clicks for me. it's pretty simple at its core, but variety in enemy design gives plenty of depth to encounters. gameplay outside of combat mainly involves exploring the ruined, decaying world, searching for secrets. there are some non-combat challenges, mainly focusing on precise sequences of dashes. these are, to be honest, the weakest part of the game, made worse by the rare input dropping. the longest of these challenges is inconsistent enough that the 99% category is much more popular among speedrunners than 100%. however, none of these dash challenges are required to beat the game, and are only necessary if you really want that 100% achievement. for the most part, you're just wandering around, getting in fights, and finding hidden passageways, and the game is great for all three of those things.
Hyper Light Drifter, even after i've played it over and over and found every single flaw, remains one of my favorite games. i'm really excited for Solar Ash and, unless that turns out to be a huge disappointment, i'll probably throw my money at whatever the developers do after that as well.
also um it turns out there's gonna be an HLD animated show by the castlevania guy? not sure how i feel about that