Hyper Light Breaker, a 3D co-op game set in the Hyper Light Drifter universe

Heart Machine has unveiled Hyper Light Breaker, a 3D co-op game set in the same world as the cult classic Hyper Light Drifter, coming to Steam Early Access in Spring 2023.

The announcement marks the sixth anniversary of Hyper Light Drifter, the studio’s groundbreaking action/adventure game that took players on a beautiful but melancholic journey through a ruined world. This first game was built around challenging combat and a wealth of mysteries that offered glimpses into the game’s otherwise opaque narrative.

However, while Drifter offered a 2D single-player experience (albeit with a local co-op mode added post-launch), Heart Machine is now attempting to make Breaker in 3D, with an emphasis on online co-op.

The announcement trailer (below) seems to imply that Breaker will combine Drifter’s challenging combat with the elegant traversal mechanics from Heart Machine’s second game, Solar Ash. Speaking to IGN, creative director Alx Preston also noted that compared to Drifter, it will be “a bit more system-heavy, with more RPG mechanics,” complete with a variety of different playable classes.

“And when we say cooperative online play, we mean multiple players, not just you and one other person; We’re looking at a group of players who can go out and slay some monsters together.”

The online aspect represents a second major technological leap for Heart Machine since its debut; Solar Ash saw the transition from 2D to 3D, resulting in a game that was well received but took nearly twice as long as Drifter.

Hyper Light Breaker – Exclusive concept art

We asked Preston if the transition already made could result in a smoother development cycle for his new 3D game. “Yeah. I mean that’s definitely part of it now that we’ve made the transition to Unreal and built the technology. It’s important for us to make sure we’re putting out content more regularly and we’re not stuck in a very focused mentality, without talking super publicly about it for several years.”

The plan to announce Breaker on Steam Early Access about a year ahead of its scheduled launch is a big part of that desire for transparency and marks a natural progression from Drifter’s early success on Kickstarter.

“We want to get Breaker out of there. We want to start talking openly about development, the process of doing live streams, and all sorts of fun stuff. Because I think at Drifter, after Kickstarter, we did something similar on a smaller scale where we can engage with that particular community on a regular basis.”

“We’re looking at a group of players who can go out and kill some monsters together.”

While Solar Ash was a departure from the Hyper Light universe, Breaker is an integral part of it. Drifter’s story was told without a single word of dialogue, instead opting for environmental cues, extraterrestrial text that players had to translate outside of the game, and occasional cutscenes that punctuate the line between things that actually happened to the player character and his own illness-induced hallucinations.

Despite this – or more likely because of it – players really bought into Drifter’s narrative and, six years later, are still interested in learning more about his world. “There will be threads and things for people who have played drifters that they will definitely get some value from. And certainly there is an aesthetic and vibe and the lore of the world that we continue to build on.”

Preston adds that you don’t have to have played Drifter to know what’s going on. “Nonetheless, it continues the lineage in many ways.”

Hyper Light Breaker – 5 in-game screenshots

It’s too early to discuss the story or themes, we’re told, but Preston suggests Breaker will likely follow in Drifter’s footsteps while reflecting the ongoing changes within the team as a whole. “I think we tend to have those elements of past experiences that in some ways really shaped or shaped us. For me personally, it’s my own health issues that I’ve been trying to publicize in one way or another, and with Solar Ash being a larger team of people who feed into the story, it became a broader context for these vicious circles how to go in.”

“There’s humor that I think we want to use a little bit more. We did that a bit with Solar Ash. But I think our stories are still going to be dark, and they’re about themes that are really hard to deal with, regardless of the format of the game. Sure, Breaker is online multiplayer, but we still have a story to tell there. We still have a world that we built and we still have issues to tap into.”

Players can look forward to exploring these themes (while slaying monsters with their friends) when Hyper Light Breaker launches on Steam Early Access in Spring 2023.

Correction: Heart Machine and Gearbox have clarified that Hyper Light Breaker will not be a sequel to Hyper Light Drifter, but will be set in the same universe. We’ve updated the story accordingly.

Sean Bell is a freelance writer, podcaster, and streamer. His bad jokes and worse opinions can be found on Twitter: @CaptainToss. Hyper Light Breaker, a 3D co-op game set in the Hyper Light Drifter universe

Fry Electronics Team

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