Hello reader, indulge me if you will. As you’re reading this I want your mind to wander back to the past. A time when tales of Dragons ran rampant. Think of a time when men were men, women were women, and bugs were Knights? Well, I can’t think of any time like that. To be fair, I’m also not a bug, so I could be way off. Yes, by the title of the article and the terrible set-up I am going to be discussing, of course, Hollow Knight. The Hollow Knight Game has been out for a little while now, it saw its recent release on the Switch on June 12th and has been on Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS for the past couple of months now. Interesting enough, a portion of the funding for the game was a Kickstarter back in 2014. So, yea. This game has technically been around for a while. The game has been praised by many, I haven’t heard anything bad about it myself. I also kept my exposure limited to not sway my own thoughts on the game. It looked interesting to me, so I picked it up and wanted to share my thoughts on the game. Without further ado…
The story in the game is set up in a beautiful and unique way. You’re told just about everything as the Knight progresses through the game by interacting with the different characters you encounter, the different environments and all the secrets you find along the way. To set it up for the most part; you are the Hollow Knight (duh) who first arrives in a place called Dirtmouth. Dirtmouth is like a tiny settlement, not inhabited by many and lies on top of the ruins of Hallownest; a once bright and lush Kingdom. The Hollow Knight, of course, wants to journey through the forgotten waist land of Hallownest to see what kind of secrets await. Now I am not going to spoil anything here because the story, I feel, is insanely good and is better experienced by playing the game. Needless to say though, as the Knight continues on his journey throughout Hallownest, he finds there is more going on than the landscape originally depicted. You see bodies of bugs around just about everywhere you look, giving you the notion that something apocalyptic occurred. On top of that, there are zombies of the old citizens just walking around looking absolutely miserable. You want to be careful of them though, they’re very territorial.
Progressing throughout the story, you will get more and more immersed in what happened to this Kingdom so long ago. The secrets that are sprinkled around are not impossible to find but they do take some exploring to find. Which makes finding them all the better because you can keep putting everything you find together. If you enjoy a good story like I do, you will without a doubt find one with this game. So far on the journey of this game, we’re looking good. Let’s move on to the next important thing with any game, shall we?
The Game Mechanics
The game itself is a Metroidvania title, which makes it all the better! I don’t think it could have worked as well as it does if it were set up any other way. For those of you who don’t know what I mean by Metroidvania, it’s a sub-genre of the action-adventure genre. Kind of like what Heavy Metal is to Rock and Roll. This takes elements from, you guessed it, Castlevania and Metroid and puts them into one type of game. There aren’t any crazy fighting combos to memorize or anything like that, which is one of the best things with these types of games. You start off with your standard attack, which is a sword slash or nail as they call it in game, and you can jump. That’s about it. You may know, the further along the game you go, you pick up new items and abilities. Being that you’re starting off without many things to help in combat, you want to get good quick. Enemies do not mess around here if you’re not careful you can easily get swarmed on by multiple enemies.
Those are just the standard enemies, what about the bigger ones? Oh, they’re more fun! I am not being sarcastic, they may be difficult but that made me want to improve even more and the victories were soo sweet. The bigger enemies do some major damage and tend to have bigger swings behind them. Which means they will need time to rest and set up their attack again. All you need to do is follow their attack pattern and strike when they are in the rest position. It’s really quick, so if you’re not nimble enough you will get cut to pieces. The deaths, for the most part, do not feel unfair. The controls are tight enough to give you all the ability to avoid getting hit or to avoid falling off of levels. With this game, it’s wise to look before you leap. You’re able to look up and look down to see the environment above and below you. This will help you think about your next move, you can see if you have a ledge to land on or if you will be plummeting right into a lake of what appears to be acid. Yikes, what a way to go.
This game does not have an autosave feature, if that gets you upset then this is not the game for you. You will be dying quite frequently here and if you don’t find a save zone, you’re up a pretty mucky creek without a paddle. The zones are pretty cute, they’re little benches that the Knight sits on to take a rest. Your game is saved and your health is restored back to full. On the plus side though, if you die you come back at the last save zone and you can travel back to where you last died to come across your spirit. Defeat your spirit in combat (it’s two hits) and you get all the money back that you had previously. The bad thing is if you die before getting back to the spirit to reclaim your stuff, that money will now be lost and you will have the spirit of whatever amount of money you at that time instead to fight against. On the topic of dying and health, a really nice feature is how you are able to re-gen your health. You initially start with five hitboxes, one hit means you lose one hitbox. Five hits, you get the idea. While you pummel your enemies you have a gauge that fills up on the left hand of the screen. It’s life force that you are absorbing and when the gauge is full you can refill three hitboxes to put you right back in the game. In that respect, the game is pretty forgiving. The map system is pretty interesting here. You find a character who is a cartographer and you buy the maps of the areas from him. You’re able to pin certain locations only after you buy the ability to do so from the cartographer’s wife. What a team! Last but certainly not least you have your item slots. These are pretty standard, you are only able to hold a certain amount of items at first. Over time, you’re able to upgrade to store more items.
The Art And Music
If there is something that can pull me out of a game quickly, it’s bad art design and bad music. Now, of course, art is subjective and you can argue what is considered bad or not. I like to believe I have somewhat good taste in art. The colors that are used bring everything to life, even in the darkest of places. When you start the game you’re surrounded by nothing but mostly dark blue and gray colors. While you keep traveling more and more colors come out of the woodworks. There’s an area where you go from the cavernous blue caves right into a green lively jungle looking type of area. The transition is done well and is such a welcome to the eyes once you see it. The sprites are done really well, the tones and shading help make all the characters pop right out at you.
The music is very atmospheric. It’s like one of your best friends, always in the back where you can hear it and then it makes itself known when the time is right and you need it the most. The thing you will notice as you’re traveling throughout the game is the how the music shifts between the different worlds you travel to. It’s mostly string instruments like harps, VIolins and they decided to throw some piano in there for good measure. The whimsical feeling is really present when you’re in the more lively areas like the Greenpath. It’s a very upbeat tone with some bass added in to give it that full feeling. When you’re in areas like Dirtmouth the music is more subtle, and calm. Kinda of setting off an eerie feeling, which is what you want to feel because the area is really desolate. This is where you hear a lot of piano in the music to help sell the dreary mood.
I kept my ears and eyes shut as best I could about this game and boy am I glad I did. I personally love everything about this game but there are some out there who might not like the difficulty in the combat. I can admit, it can be a bit of a pain when you have so much currency, then die, have to travel back to your spirit to get your stuff back but then end up dying again. Losing all that progress is a pain and does not make me a happy camper. It is a change of gameplay though, so kudos for doing something outside the “norm”. That being said, I cannot recommend this game enough for everyone who owns a switch or a computer. Go get it on Steam, I don’t care just go and pick this game up now!
All4Gamerz gives Hollow Knight for the Nindie series a 10/10.
I hope you all enjoyed the review on Hollow Knight, I really enjoyed playing this game and am probably going to pick up the album if it’s out there. The music is so good not to listen to throughout the day. Let me know what you guys think about the game, did you play it? What are your thoughts, let me know in the comments down below. Take care everyone.