Hyper Light Breaker is a hoverboard simulator. Technically, it’s a roguelite third-person adventure set in a glowing fantasy-cyberpunk universe, but after 30 minutes of pre-play it became clear to me that Hyper Light Breaker is all about the hoverboard. Ferocious beasts, secret alcoves and shiny weapons are secondary to the feeling of gliding over green hills and shallow waters on my glowing blue slab, finding joy in narrowly avoiding enemy encounters.

Deliberately skipping battles was probably the opposite of what lead animator Chris Bullock wanted me to do during the first public hands-on opportunity with Hyper Light Breaker — but if that was the case, then he shouldn’t have told me about the hoverboard.

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Hyper Light Breaker is set to enable in early access on Steam this summer, along with three-player online co-op. The developers at Heart Machine are letting people play it for the first time at Day of the Devs: San Francisco Edition, which is being held in conjunction with GDC this week. I played a remote preview of the game at home, solo style, while Bullock watched on Discord (and probably cringed a lot).

Breaker is an open-world game with a central station called the Cursed Outpost, a futuristic shopping mall with shops, upgrade stations, and NPCs. I briefly explored the outpost, but most of the game is played in Overgrowth, a landscape of ever-changing biomes, and I focused on diving into them. The biomes in Overgrowth are built with handcrafted and procedurally generated elements so that players never enter the same realm twice, and each has a boss to defeat called the Crown. Despite my desire to hover peacefully through the half-hour demo, I messed around with two charges, took out a few slime hordes, and twice tried to kill one of those crowns, a huge bipedal wolf warrior with a golden sword named Dro.

In both of my fights with Dro, she began attacking instantly and with incredible force, swinging her blade wildly as she leapt in a giant arc across my temple and directly onto my head. I dodged and tried to fill her stagger meter by doing basic attacks with my sword and firearm, but the wolf was relentless, especially compared to the main enemies, which I easily dispatched around the biome.

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Dro beat me twice. At the end of each battle, I would hear the game’s siren song luring me in, making me believe I could beat the big bad wolf next time if I just used an updated strategy. Parrying was key in this fight, according to Bullock.

“Her first initial attack, you immediately went for the parry,” Bullock said as I prepared to fight the boss again. “I love that you figured that out right away; that was the intention of this one.

The parry was haphazard on my part, but I immediately noticed how effective it was, giving me half a second at the very start of the encounter to back off and strategize. What I had experienced with the parry was a fit of rage, Bullock explained. Some beasts inside Hyper Light Breaker glow red and then perform big moves that must be perfectly parried to cancel damage, deflect a projectile, or stun the enemy. On a rage attack, an imperfect parry will only mitigate some damage.

“That’s definitely the goal of the design, to make combat clear, to know when you’re doing something right,” Bullock said.

These moments of tactical clarity are exactly what makes a roguelike or roguelite addictive. I can see how to beat the boss; now i just need to get good enough at the game to apply these moves before i get killed.

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There is no dialogue Hyper Light Breakerlike its predecessor, Hyper Light Drifter. Drifter was an incredibly stylish 2D action RPG that came out in 2016 after several years of crowdfunding and considerable hype, and cemented Heart Machine’s reputation as a stellar indie studio. Hyper Light Breaker it’s technically a prequel to Drifteras it takes place 15 years before the events of this game.

Drifter co-designer Teddy Dief founded Team OFK and published the music visual novel We are OFKwhile lead developer Alex Preston stayed with Heart Machine and released Sun ash in 2021. Like Breaker, Sun ash is located in the same shared universe as Hyper Light Drifterbut it’s a very different game and not a direct sequel. Sun ash is a third-person action platformer built around incredibly satisfying sliding mechanics, and its world is filled with alien environments, massive monsters, and vaguely menacing deities.

Hyper light it was a way for me to start, it was a way to get healthier and get a team together and figure out, can I do this? Can I actually make games?” Preston told me in 2021, during the build-up to Sun ashthe release of. “And once I answered that question, the natural next step for me was something in 3D. Can I put something in there that really opens up the world and makes you feel like you can really escape into something, a creation that’s otherworldly that you wouldn’t otherwise experience? Much of my childhood was spent escaping into these larger experiences.

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Breaker it feels like the perfect fusion of Hyper Light Drifter and Sun ash. Change Sun ash ice skate with hoverboard, add friends and you’re done. The developers at Heart Machine plan to keep Hyper Light Breaker in early access for about a year, though they noted that this timeline could change with player feedback.

The complete edition of Hyper Light Breaker will support up to three players in online co-op and have a handful of characters to choose from, each with a custom loadout. I tried a basic, serrated blade, and heavy sword, plus a standard rifle and a shotgun-type firearm, and each performed well, though I ran out of ammo quickly and often. The heavy sword was slower than the simple blade, but it moved smoothly and hit hard. In Cursed Outpost, before loading a new biome, I was also able to choose four abilities called Holobytes from about a dozen options, such as increased armor or faster healing. My favorite feature was the blooming corpse seed, which planted an exploding AOE flower on the bodies of slain enemies.

But after Bullock told me that hoverboarding was an option, that was all I wanted to do. I spent a lot of mine Hyper Light Breaker demo time, sliding across the bright green grass, landing with little jumps and occasionally falling into a pond. I’m still itching to find Dro again and fine-tune my parrying abilities in an array of weapons (and corpse flowers). Mostly, though, I’ll be dreaming of that bright blue board next to it Hyper Light Breaker hits early access this summer.