One of the best-looking new open-world games borrows from one of my 2021 favorites – just what I wanted to hear

Hyper Light Breaker
(Image credit: Heart Machine)

I've taken basically every opportunity to beat the Hyper Light Breaker drum on account of it being a promising open-world roguelike coming from an indie studio with an enviable track record, and Edge 384 (on sale now) has given me an easy in by confirming that, as I suspected, the game does indeed borrow from one of my favorite games of 2021: Solar Ash.

Director Alx Preston of studio Heart Machine, which developed Solar Ash and is now working on Hyper Light Breaker, told Edge about "the challenge of meshing two very different types of game – genres that, in some respects, seem fundamentally incompatible" with Hyper Light Breaker's open-world roguelike setup. A big part of that is "that balance where the world is not just open for the sake of being open" and finding a middle ground for handcrafted and procedural levels. 

"Even with a procedural game, good level design is super-important to us," Preston says. "It's just a different way of thinking about level design, [involving] algorithms and math. You can still achieve good level design this way. Obviously it isn't a purely curated experience like you're gonna get in [Hyper Light Drifter]. It's just a different structure and format. And that's why we went with something more open in the first place - it was to embrace that reality."

Solar Ash

(Image credit: Heart Machine)

The kicker for me is Preston's note that, as Hyper Light Breaker's trailers have implied, and as you'd expect from a studio making its third-ever game and only second 3D game, "it's bringing elements over from [Drifter] and even from Solar Ash in some ways." 

As I said in my Solar Ash review, the 3D platformer ended up being one of my favorite games of 2021 despite slipping in right at the end of the year, in large part because its spellbinding movement is the focus of the entire experience. I've seen glimpses of Solar Ash protagonist Rei in the flourish of Hyper Light Breaker's playable characters, and it's exciting to hear that the game's DNA lives on through Drifter's spiritual successor. I can't wait to see, and feel, how it does so for myself. 

Even so, Breaker is "doing its own thing, and for good reason," Preston says. "Because ultimately we wanted to try out this unique format and structure that nobody else is doing, and make our own subgenre for this stuff. And we're doing it pretty successfully." 

Troy Baker and Roger Clark clash in sci-fi thriller Fort Solis, cover star of Edge 385.

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.