The haunting world of Hollow Knight presented through a distinct animation style is an experience I will cherish as one of the finest gaming experiences within the Indie genre.
You start as an unnamed knight, set to travel into the vast world of Hallownest, a once glorious kingdom now turned into an infected and melancholy land.
A Kickstart Story
The developers Team Cherry leave the story at that. The rest is up to the player to uncover if they so wish. Pieces of lore are revealed through dialogue through NPC’s like the Seer. I have always enjoyed the freedom a game gives when they leave the player to uncover the story for themselves.
The story itself is good. I gathered as much information as I could through my playthrough to piece together a comprehensive storyline and it was a relief the internet confirmed my thoughts on what I played through. What really hooked me into this world was the gameplay. A responsive, arcade-like combat system and a stunning animation style blend together to create a world I did not want to leave after my 30 hour long first time playthrough.
Even though I ‘finished’ the main game, plenty more can be explored. From fights with the dream warriors to battling in the Colosseum, Hollow Knight extends it’s playtime to upward of 50 hours.
The beginning hours of Team Cherry’s Hollow Knight can be overwhelming. I found myself getting lost without a map and constantly going back through areas I had already explore. As well as this, the combat has a steep learning curve. Hollow Knight rips away the training wheels and sends you without a helmet straight into the Tour de France.
But these hours are still excellent. While getting lost, I learnt the combat system and different enemy move sets helping me explore with more confidence. They helped me learn the area which was useful when I came back with another upgrade needed to reach a unreachable area before.
I was shocked to see this game started as a Kickstarter. This game rivals triple A titles in terms of quality and surpasses most in terms of enjoyability.
Curiosity Killed the Knight
Each area of Hallownest is individually crafted to make its own statement. The desolate lands and deep greys of the Forgotten Crossroads vary wildly compared to the spore ridden toxic purples and greens of the Fungal Wastes. Every area has their own sets of enemies, move-sets and obstacles, as well as an exceedingly good score to encompass a melancholy feel throughout the depths of Hallownest. Traversing into a new section feels intimidating and exciting as new enemies lurk around the corner.
Progression is one of the best aspects of this game. The freedom the player to do different events in any order is incredible. It insures no two first playthroughs are the same and the lack of direction the game gives the player encourages curiosity to delve into this game in whatever direction you want.
Curiosity is encouraged heavily. In nearly all areas, breakable walls or hidden pathways can keep some of the more valuable loot or hidden bosses. These secrets have the same effect as the classic Spyro games had, rewarding the player for exploring and experimenting with worth-while prizes. These secrets also took away my lives on more than one occasion. It turned out that lake of corrosive acid really was a lake of corrosive acid
It cannot be ignored; this game is HARD. It does not breach into the borders of ‘unfair’ or blend into one of From Software’s works, but Hallownest inhabits some of the tougher bosses and platforming segments I can remember in recent memory. The challenge this game offers delivers memorable boss fights and rewarding affirmation to the player regarding the growth in their skill. I constantly found myself getting battered by a boss on my first couple of attempts until I gradually started to react faster and read situations more accurately.
In similarity to the Souls series is the importance of death. In Hollow Knight, if you die, you lose all of your in-game currency (geo) and cracks your soul metre, a system used so you can heal and cast magic. You do have a chance to get your geo back, by going back to where you die and defeating your shadow but if you die on the way there, you will lose your geo forever.
While this may seem like a harsh consequence, geo In this game doesn’t matter hugely. There are a couple of upgrades, maps and stag stops that can be purchased to make the traversal of Hallownest easier, but these are never “break-the-bank” expensive. Once I realised this, the aspect of losing all my money became less daunting.
I did find on occasions that the hitboxes on certain enemy types were misleading. One example of this were the tentacles of jellyfish in the fog canyon. They only damage from roughly halfway up with no indication where the cut off is. This was annoying when it came to some of the more laborious jumping segments Hollow Knight requires.
This ‘metroidvania’ game is regularly available for £16 which is an absolute STEAL. A near 30-hour first time playthrough was engaging and fun from start to end. I loved every second I spent in Team Cherry’s world and I desperately look forward to the sequel.
Hollow Knight is a 9.5