Heart Machine’s highly anticipated hack-and-slash RPG, Hyper Light Drifter, released last month after nearly three years of development. In spite of mixed reviews, it nonetheless charmed many long-time gamers by providing them with a challenging and cryptic exploration experience. So it was surprising to see that Heart Machine made several adjustments to the game’s execution requirements last weekend.
The first changes came last Friday in what Heart Machine called “The Invincibility Patch.” The patch notes list the following changes:
Hey Drifters, in this latest update we’ve made a significant amount of changes to make you feel like a more badass drifter than ever before.
New patch up in default for Windows. Mac and Linux coming ASAP.
– Added frames of invincibility to dash
– Warp pads now refill health kits
– Achievements for Dash challenge + Soccer for KB+M: can now choose option for KB direction dash
– Sped up heal several frames
– Adjusted various room scenery/hitches across the world
– Fixed Alt Drifter dash catch
– Fixed a credits crash
– Can now go to full credits again after you beat the game through “credits” menu option
Most notable among the gameplay tweaks were the new invincibility frames on Dashes. Previously, Dashes had no invulnerability frames and required skilled players to time their escapes just right to avoid damage. Also noteworthy was the fact that warp pads in each area refilled health kits. Health kits could only be restored by finding them hidden around the map. These health kits respawned ever time the game was loaded.
Author’s note: While we cannot confirm the following suspicion, Dashes also feel much easier to chain together with the Chain Dash upgrade. They felt as if they required frame-perfect execution before; now, Dashes are fairly easy to consecutively chain.
As can be seen in the post’s comments, responses to The Invincibility Patch were polarizing. While some players praised the changes to dashes and health kit regeneration (citing that the recharge removed the tedious process of teleporting into an area, finding its health packs, and then teleporting that out), many felt that the changes were unnecessary and made a challenging game much too easy.
The more constructive comments among these suggested that the new changes be rolled into an Easy Mode, with the old game settings returning for a Normal mode.
The changes persisted until yesterday, when Heart Machine implemented another patch. Though this patch bore no name, it came with a much longer post explaining the Hyper Light Drifter team’s thoughts on both the Dash changes and community feedback.
Firstly, the team sincerely thanked the HLD community for providing ample feedback on bugs and gameplay suggestions. The post also states that Heart Machine strives to be as open as possible to fan suggestions, which leads the discussion to the game’s latest issue: The Invincibility Patch.
After much consideration, Heart Machine had decided to make the following changes to Hyper Light Drifter:
– Health kits no longer recharge at warp pads
– Reduced number of invincibility frames in the dash
– Extended heal time slightly
Heart Machine’s first priority when creating and updating Hyper Light Drifter is “fairness in design while maintaining challenge.” While the team enjoys the aggressive combat opportunities offered by invincibility frames on dashes, they felt that the Friday changes provided a little too much freedom in combat. All changes to the game are carefully deliberated beforehand, Heart Machine assured its fans.
Finally, Heart Machine stated that while there are no current plans for an Easy Mode, the team is currently discussing it.
I won’t rule it out as a possibility: being inclusive to more players who want to experience the world we have created seems to be a positive thing, while still maintaining the intended challenge for those who want the achievements. If it did happen, just like all of our other decisions, it’s something we would implement with ample, careful consideration, particularity on its necessity and place in our game.
Heart Machine closed by thanking its community once again. They also announced that they will be announcing details for potential future updates to Hyper Light Drifter soon.
Hyper Light Drifter is available for play on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Ouya, and Steam for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. Stay tuned for more updates on the future announcements mentioned above.