Hollow Knight is a glaring example of one’s extraordinary achievement when their main drive is passion and strong motivation. Australia’s Team Cherry, a group of three, managed to collect around € 60,000 through a campaign on KickStarter, an amount which may not sound enormous yet added significantly to their overall project.
Hollow Knight’s development took just over three years, and when it finally came out on February 2017, the result compensated for this delay, with sales exceeding 65,000 in the first month of its release. Hollow Knight is a great Metroidvania that is characterized by its high level of challenge, exploration and many secrets; we can easily consider it as one of the top of its genre as it wins in all areas hands down. Here’s why:
The ancient kingdom of … insects
The little hero of Hollow Knight, an insect knight with a unique nail gun, arrives in the deserted town of Dirtmouth where he learns that all the other insects are drawn to Hallownest, an ancient kingdom under the surface of Earth. Your mission as a knight insect is to venture to go to this ancient kingdom, explore it and eventually break the curse that plagues Dirtmouth, bringing life back to the city. On your way through the Hollow Knight, you will come across a large number of other NPCs, some of which are crazy enough; through the mini dialogues, you will each time discover something new about the mystery surrounding Hallownest and how you can deal with it. Not wanting to spoil the pretty interesting and rich story with the emphatic finale, we can only reveal that it strongly reminds us of Dark Souls since the strong influences in numerous aspects of the game are easy to spot. What finally needs to be sacrificed to break this curse?
It won’t be a ”free ride”
A game’s level of challenge is certainly an element that can discourage some from trying it, however, Hollow Knight’s level of difficulty is completely reasonable and fair. Once starting to play it, you will immediately figure that nothing is available beyond basic attack and jump. Navigating is something you should discover for yourself as the Hollow Knight map is not available and you will have to search very meticulously until you find how to move about in the game.
In the Hollow Knight single map, all areas are linked to each other through paths or other moving systems and in every new area you visit, you will need to find the Cartographer and obtain the corresponding map. The map will not, of course, help you much as it will not reveal your current location or give other spot-of-interest pointers. Remember that all of these extras should be purchased as well. In fact, Hollow Knight will never tell you whether you are heading in the right direction. Besides, if you have entered an area worthy of further exploration, you will need an object or skill not yet acquired to proceed. Hollow Knight, loyal to Metroidvania, will force you to back-track multiple times until you unlock all possible paths and discover all its secrets.
Throughout your Hollow Knight journey, you will encounter natural enemies … insects of all kinds, large or small, all of which are designed in great detail. Enemies stand out on account of their wide variety, unique and unpredictable abilities, and ways to be killed. By killing an insect in Hollow Knight, you will receive geos, the game’s currency, with which you can buy map markets, new charms, but also increase your life points and soul. The many different charms allow you to change your character’s skills, for example, the ability to get more geos or attack from afar. Soul, on the other hand, is used to perform your abilities; think of it as manna from heaven: the more you hit enemies, the more it replenishes!
Now, in each area, there are one or more checkpoints you are asked to find out because if you die, you will always start from the previous checkpoint. Many of these checkpoints are well-hidden and we strongly recommend that you always move carefully until you locate them, otherwise you risk dying and being moved way back in the game from where you last lost. Dying means losing all of the geos that you have gathered along the way, and the only way to retrieve them is getting to the exact point you died and killing your shade without losing again in the meantime.
Besides making life easier, Hollow Knight abilities are absolutely essential to further progress on several occasions. Abilities vary from healing to dashing and blowing a huge ball of souls. You either get them as a reward when you kill a boss or you have to retrieve them from a well-hidden spot.
One of the most complete 2D experiences in recent years.
A dark underground kingdom full of secrets
In Hollow Knight, you will find yourself in over ten different areas with unique enemies and design. From the devastated castle to the ruined royal gardens and the abyss itself, you will pass through dim, dark and gray areas that want to kill you; apart from enemies, you will also experience a series of jumping puzzles that punish you whenever you make a mistake. Of course, you will come across the different areas’ bosses, many of which are optional and not required to advance in Hollow Knight. The bosses’ level of challenge is noticeably staggering as it is forever testing your knee-jerk reflexes. Many of them require great concentration and… patience considering that you are more than likely going to spend hours trying to confront and finally beat them.
Perhaps a small complaint here is that two specific bosses may be setting the challenge bar too high, wearing you to a frazzle. Despite this, all boss fights are unique in their own way as each and every of them pushes you to combine your abilities as well as handle the attacks patiently and intelligently so as to minimize harm. In some cases, you will have to fight two bosses at the same time, or jump over bombs and electricity fields, while avoiding the boss’s own attacks. This will be supported by straightforward controls and a simple yet optimized combat system that perfectly responds to the commands you give.
To finish Hollow Knight, you will need about 20 hours, and from there you can spend more to find all the secrets, fight all the bosses and test your skills at higher levels of difficulty. Once you’ve finished the Hollow Knight for the first time, you can play in its perma-death mode, which is, of course, a huge challenge intended for hardcore gamers.
The dim world of Hallownest
Graphicwise, Hollow Knight did pretty yet not impressively well. All graphic elements are beautifully designed and accompanied by satisfying animations, however, graphics are definitely not the game’s key element. Although there are ample settings, enemies and NPCs, these are not as imaginative as they could be, coming in dull and monotonous colours.
Hollow Knight, however, stands out for its extremely deep soundtrack, which consists of 26 unique tracks that alternate dynamically by region and boss fights. With subdued, heavy rhythms that peak flawlessly when needed, the soundtrack fits perfectly with the Hollow Knight’s entire vibe and atmosphere. Although voice acting is non-existent, the sound effects are satisfactory, without of course being something extraordinarily unique.
Hollow Knight’s arrival
Hollow Knight is undoubtedly one-of-a-kind in its genre. Not only did the developers- a talented group of three- manage to pay tribute to the genre’s giants, but also to challenge them face-to-face. The gameplay is exactly what you should expect from a Metroidvania: long duration, lots of exploration areas, infinite secrets, and a high level of challenge that doesn’t wear you out.
At 14.99 current price, don’t think twice until you buy it- it’s more than worth it, especially if you are a genre fan. We hope to be as excited about Team Cherry’s upcoming creations as we now are about Hollow Knight.