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Hollow Knight

Developer / Publisher: Team Cherry
24 February 2017
Hollow Knight - cover art
Glitchwave rating
4.30 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
2,716 Ratings / 8 Reviews
#19 All-time
#2 for 2017
A nameless knight arrives at Dirtmouth, eager to explore the wastes of the once-mighty kingdom of Hallownest down below. As it ventures forth, it learns of Hollownest's history, and discovers the tragic truth behind the kingdom's ruin.
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Title
The Novelty of Vibes
The novelty of vibes is a powerful force. It can sometimes solely carry games to stardom (EarthBound [Mother 2 ギーグの逆襲] anyone?). Hollow Knight can pretty squarely fit in that camp too. What are you left with when you push aside the fantastic atmosphere, well-written, hard-hitting characters, and memorable music? Extremely shallow combat, (besides a few exceptions) boring, unmemorable bosses, and a charm system that is horribly balanced and heavily pushes you towards the "must haves" instead of feeling like you can pick ones you'd want to use.

The characters are easily the best aspect of Hollow Knight. Helping The Last Stag find his nest felt great, hearing the hum of Cornifer when entering an unknown area is an unbeatable feeling, and seeing Quirrel to the end of his journey could bring a grown man to tears. And those were just my favorites! Every character in the game is flawlessly written, not a wasted line or moment paired with perfect execution. Even though every spoken line is gibberish, it's all very memorable (*Sighs* "Bapanada.")

In terms of music and atmosphere, this game bodies most games in the Metroidvania genre. Tracks like "Sealed Vessel," "Hollow Knight," and "Greenpath" are golden and just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the quality of the soundtrack. Every area gives off a distinct atmosphere and personality.

The last thing I want to touch down on is exploration. Exploration feels satisfying and pretty much always rewards you with something. Exploration feels much less boxed in like Super Metroid [スーパーメトロイド] and more open like Dark Souls. You also get those satisfying moments where you've looked everywhere except one little spot that happens to be precisely where you need to go, and you get exactly what you need. Overall, feels great to go off the beaten path, which is always good. I do want to point out though, this is a staple aspect of the genre, so Hollow Knight being good at exploration isn't that surprising or should be given that much praise.

Now, where my complaints start to come in lies mainly in the gameplay. A game can have all the vibes you want, but if it's not fun to play, then what's the point (*cough* *cough* EarthBound [Mother 2 ギーグの逆襲])? Now I keep throwing jabs at EarthBound [Mother 2 ギーグの逆襲], but the gameplay in Hollow Knight isn't close to being as bad. It's still not great, though.

My biggest gripe with the game is its combat. Frankly, it is just way too easy and one-note. It feels a lot like Dark Souls's combat, but without any of the fun intricacies. You know all those memes about Dark Souls, where people say, "All you do in Dark Souls is dodge attack"? Hollow Knight's is just that, dodge and attack with no meat on its bones. And because of the lack of depth in the combat, it just makes it too damn easy. Of course, there are charms, but they are so horribly balanced. Why would I use Quick Slash and Quick Focus over more quirky/zany charms like Joni's Blessing and Fury of the Fallen when they're much worse and frankly not as fun to use? Every boss I fought besides The Hollow Knight and the Traitor Lord were piss easy and a complete pushover. This made combat feel unsatisfying and only made the annoying enemies feel worse.

Since the combat is so one note, it makes the game drag on way too long. I completed 79% of the game (according to the end screen), and it felt like it took eons to do. Something that's super repetitive and drags and drags on is not a good combo. Dare I say, a lot like how I feel towards EarthBound [Mother 2 ギーグの逆襲].

I thought a lack of motivation was a writing aspect that was very distracting throughout the entire game. What is the Knight's motivation to sacrifice himself to seal the infection? Why should I care about Hollownest at all? Nothing in the game makes me give a single shit about Hollownest. In something like Dark Souls, you're the chosen undead. You were chosen, so you have to ring the bells and link the flame. Not only that, but you have almost every character pushing you along the way the whole time to link the flame, giving you their own motivations and reasons to do so (or leave the flame to die).

In Hollow Knight, Hornet is the only one pushing you towards the end, but you only see her a few times. The Queen does the same thing, too, but it's much worse than Hornet. It's just a bunch of "You must do this, you must do that!" fluff that doesn't give me any reason to do anything, and you only see her once anyways. You just wander into Dirtmouth, and the game expects you to care enough about Hollownest to want to sacrifice yourself to save it. Of course, there are the Voidheart endings where you kill Radiance, but everything I said still stands. Why should I care about Hollownest enough to kill a god or sacrifice myself? Because the game never gives you that motivation. This is just abysmal writing.


I know this will be somewhat contentious, but I want it to be known that I still like the game. Even though the combat is repetitive, it still has its moments, especially the last boss. Character writing is fantastic too. And, of course, combat isn't the only thing you do; the rest of the game (barring some aspects of writing) is great. But because Hollow Knight's shortcomings and the elements I like don't gain any value on replays, I will likely never play this game again. Many games in the genre do gameplay better, and I can just play Dark Souls if I want a similar story that is written much better.
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Qwertchi 2022-09-26T21:48:36Z
2022-09-26T21:48:36Z
3.5
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From the Kingdom's Edge to the Pantheon of Hallownest
Hollow Knight has been the most important game to me, thus making it the hardest to review. If I reviewed it the first time I played it, I would complain about the lack of a “solid” fast travel system (I was lazy and didn’t like the distance of the stag stations). But after returning to the game about 6 months later, I started a run on steel soul mode. I don’t want to say this is where the game started to shine, but it really helped engage me in the lore and atmosphere of Hallownest. If Bloodborne had a permadeath mode, I would despise it with all my soul (pun intended), but Hollow Knight pulls it off with their more difficult boss battles locked behind the dream realm, allowing you to retry those massively difficult bosses that will punish you with one slip up. This difficulty made every second I spent matter, as I searched for more ways to explore and become more powerful.

As I became more entranced in the abstract world of Hallownest, I saw the method behind the madness. You must become the king of Hallownest. Sure you have to stop the infection, but just like the world of Dark Souls 3, the world of Hallownest is one not easily saved. The world is presented in such a way that it forces you to question whether or not Hallownest is worth saving, and if the trouble you go through to rule Hallownest is worth it. Stopping the infection is necessary unless you just want to imagine the NPCs killed (bad choice man), but it is optional to face the Absolute Radiance and take your place at Hallownest’s peak (not an easy feat in the slightest, I am still chewing on it).

Some things I would like to highlight are the art design and the music. These things, for me, are the main reasons I rate this so highly. I’ll save time by not saying anything about the lore (I adore it though) just because it is so immense and hard to put into concrete facts, but trust that it is worth looking into if you try out this game. As for the art design and music: I want all of it ingrained in my mind so I can think about it whenever. Places like the Queen’s Garden, Fog Canyon, the Godhome, are stunning considering they were made by a maximum of 3 people.

The soundtrack for all of these places wonderfully match the mood of their designated areas, and suck the player into the ambience they travel through. The music, composed by Christopher Larkin, is perfect and never sticks out in a poor way. One of the best pieces, City of Tears, transports me back into that strange place every time I listen to it. To me it serves the same purpose to me as City of Ruins from the game Nier: Automata, to provide a sticking point that perfectly matches the atmosphere. Where Nier: Automata falters is scale. I believe its soundtrack tries too hard to force a specific mood, whether that be the dissonance between immense compositions of the small amusement park, or just the strange and non-exceptional forest soundtrack (Castle excluded). Every track on the Hollow Knight soundtrack is wonderful and just plain great at worst, leaving it in a special place only matched by soundtracks like Mario Galaxy and Silent Hill 3.

The gameplay is perfect with collectibles that reward you effectively, and a combat system that is not so easily mastered. The appearance of a fast travel system, as I stated earlier on, was something that pissed me off but after replaying it I understood that it was necessary to allow the player to enjoy the world around them. Exploring the world proves a challenge when there are over 100 different enemies within the game, each containing a weakness you must learn and exploit. This is where I begin to understand what makes this better than other metroidvanias, because the combat system really has a lot of different ways to approach battles, combining with the charm system to produce a thought provoking and consistently difficult exploration. Do you brute force a boss, or learn every move in order to complete it while taking no damage? It’s up to the player’s imagination and skill level to produce a solution for every problem they are faced with.

Hollow Knight has an immense world, one you couldn’t fathom multiple hours into the game. A worthwhile play, and an experience that I have 100+ hours in. It is worth noting that this stands in my top 3 video games ever, next to Bloodborne and Silent Hill 2.


10/10
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KanyeWestGaming 2022-04-09T17:51:11Z
2022-04-09T17:51:11Z
5.0
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It’s really cool to see how sometimes games can be so popular and influential that they forever change how their genre is viewed from then on out.

Like, take how Hollow Knight influenced indie metroidvanias, for example. There are exceptions, obviously — and I can’t claim that I really know everything about the genre — but pre 2017 most of the prominent metroidvanias I saw were… primarily based on Castlevania, down to stuff like RPG-esque stats and gear (where you could walk over anything if you grinded enough) and a plot which… more than anything was mostly just a reason for your character to be walking around your castle sandbox. Enter Hollow Knight, with its mechanics primarily inspired by Dark Souls (which is at least a bit funny, given the degree to which Dark Souls was inspired from Castlevania even beyond the Metroidvania-like map) and suddenly every indie metroidvania after has bonfires as save points, an oblique plot which focuses more on putting individual bits of lore together to get a full picture, and combat that’s pattern based, punishing, and a lot more based on player skill than anything else. It’s a clear Before and After sort of thing, and Hollow Knight is the dividing line that’s basically come to define a lot of what’s around it.

And for good reason! Hollow Knight is a very good game!

The short of what you do in Hollow Knight is simple: you play as a little bug thing and you platform around the fallen kingdom of Hallownest, striking your nail at every single enemy in your way. Along the way, you pick up things like upgrades and items that give you the opportunity to access new enemies, fight its greatest foes, and figure out the mystery that lies at its core. You can also ignore all of that and do whatever you want — something I’ve learned this second go around is that if you already know what to do you can avoid bogging yourself down in the details and still have fun just exploring and going down your completion checklist. The benefit of Souls-like plots is that while there’s a ton of cool stuff to unpack if you’re interested in excavating through the vagueness… you can also choose not to opt into it and instead just pick a direction and walk. The world is open enough that you’ll still make progress no matter what random direction you go in, and generally the game’s good enough at signposting where you’re capable of going that you’re never going to be stuck wondering what you’re meant to do.

And there’s a lot you can do.

Like, seriously. I don’t want to act as if indie games aren’t allowed to have content or anything, but I’d honestly say that there’s more to do here than in games with dev teams twenty times the size. Hallownest is vast, and behind every corner is something for you to do, be it getting money or fighting a new boss or finding a new charm or item or spell or even just finding a cute little caterpillar for you to free. There are a lot of different stones to turn, and nothing ever feels like you’re repeating yourself — even by the end when you’re clearing old areas out you have so many new things at your disposal that its a far different experience than when you were going through it for the first time. Beyond that, the world is so pretty. Not just in terms of artstyle, but in terms of design: each little sound, each enemy, each biome you step into for the first time is so distinct from the last, and a lot of the joy you’ll have experiencing this game for the first time is just kind of uncovering this world and seeing what lies within.

Speaking of enemies, I love the combat in this game. It’s simple — all in 2D, and only one primary weapon, so you get used to your nail pretty quick — but there’s enough variety with all the different bosses and enemy types that allows for deeper appreciation of its mechanics. In addition, all the spells, Nail Arts, and charms you can find just through exploration of Hallownest each provide their own little dimension that allows you to create a build and a strategy for whatever might be facing you down. Finding a boss too oppressive to heal against? Pick charms that protect you and make your heal quicker so that you don’t have to lose the damage race. Striking a boss with your sword too unsafe? Just get a fucking army of little critters to chip away at them from afar and use the mana you gain from them to pepper it with spells. In addition, (most) bosses are… tough, yet ultimately simplistic in their design. While they can be tricky (yet also incredibly fun) fights, the focus on giving them tells and patterns means that you can learn their movesets sooner rather than later, and make sure that (nearly) no boss can majorly roadblock a player.

One last little thing in particular I’d really like to shout out is the way that Hollow Knight teaches players its mechanics. I’m a little bit hesitant to bring up… intuitive tutorializing, I think it’s called? mostly because every single time someone tries to analyze how a game intuitively teaches the player its mechanics all it really does is make the player look like a baby who hasn’t played a video game before, but I think Hollow Knight does it pretty well. This ties in with atmosphere, a little bit, because I think one of the coolest things the game does is not sacrifice its tone to tell the player something blatantly. There are in-game tutorials, yes, but they’re used sparingly, and have in-universe conjunction — you learn how to use special abilities at the same time the Knight does, as an example. Otherwise, you’re effectively alone in this huge, sprawling, dangerous world, and it's up to you to check the wiki figure out what you can do and how you’re meant to do it, and the game — particularly the tutorial area, with the doors you have to break down and the passive enemies and your first exposure to shortcuts — is really good at getting you to figure out a thing, solve the immediate problem, then let you realize how exactly you can reapply your knowledge later.

The game… isn’t without its issues, though. They’re small, but they’re present enough to make a negative impact, and keep Hollow Knight from quite being at the level of masterpiece. A lot of the bosses later on in the game (particularly the upgraded versions of previous bosses) tend to try and up the ante by making these bosses do double damage, which… I feel was not a great decision, both because the reduced amount of mistakes you’re allowed to make feel a lot cheaper and because oftentimes these refights bring enough new to the table that making it more arbitrarily stronger feels redundant. While I do appreciate the healing mechanic, binding it to the same mana meter as spells makes the latter feel obsolete even despite their potential strength — especially given how Nail Arts, as an equivalent, are freely usable and not bound to any sort of meter. While the map system is absolutely cool, I think things like the compass taking up an equipment slot and not being able to see where you are in an area until you have a map make exploration or going through the runup to a boss a little more annoying than intended. And speaking of that… yeah boss runups are here just like they are in the Souls games and they’re irritating — it feels tedious to have to sometimes traverse halfway across the area again and oftentimes taking damage makes you feel annoyed more than anything, as it means you’re that much weaker when you’re just hoping that this’ll be the try that you get the boss right.

But ultimately… those are just little issues in terms of what this game has to offer. Between the beautiful and atmospheric world, the simple yet complex combat, and the fact that you can go anywhere in this world and still feel like your decision was worth it… this game basically changed the perception of what metroidvanias could be in 2017, and for good reason. Five years, and two playthroughs, later, it still sets the benchmark for what one of these games should be. 9/10.
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Yugisan 2022-08-08T05:09:20Z
2022-08-08T05:09:20Z
4.5
2
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This dry and overgrown shell of a kingdom that you slash through is so unbelievably fascinating from every corner. The world truly is your oyster if you are able to claim it as your own. This world has bite, too. I'm sure I'm not the first to say that the way the difficulty scales and changes is some of the best and smoothest I've ever experienced. So well done, and so many well kept secrets throughout that made it fun to poke around even after beating it twice. This is like, what LOTR did for movies, this did for games, where they set the precedent that everyone then tried to shittily copy. This is the good shit y'all. It doesn't get better than this. This is what makes dreams.
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MtBedhead 2022-08-19T04:13:35Z
2022-08-19T04:13:35Z
5.0
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Perhaps the high-water mark of "metroidvania" style game design, for better and for worse. Aside from being incredibly slick and polished (to an almost cloying degree, honestly), Hollow Knight has few rivals in terms of physical scale and true nonlinearity, and its sometimes challenging combat is matched by extremely responsive and precise controls.

But it also inherits the inherent limitations of metroidvania design: it wants you to be immersed in a massive and seemingly "alive" world, but the world and its inhabitants are essentially static, existing only as a backdrop to the player's "hero's journey." Having no internal dynamics or logic of their own, they change, if at all, only in response to the player's actions, and then only rarely. (I was almost ecstatic when I first got to the Infected Crossroads, and then massively disappointed when I realized later areas of the game would not get the same treatment.) And this issue isn't just philosophical when the game requires you to backtrack repeatedly through the same places with the same enemies spawning in the exact same positions every time. Rain World, released in the same year as Hollow Knight, shows us how the player-game relationship can be reimagined in the context of a 2D platformer with a massive persistent world, how decentering the player character can result in a more rewarding and immersive experience. Hollow Knight is an excellent game, but Rain World is a great one.
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Xantha_Page 2022-06-12T19:42:43Z
2022-06-12T19:42:43Z
4.5
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you probably already love this game if you're here but
I just want to say that my favorite aspect of the game is the ability to CUSTOMIZE YOUR STYLE OF PLAY!. I was about to drop the game in area 3 'cause I kinda hate parrying in games (and it's kinda the deafult skill set) and I prefer taking my time and dodge more instead of attacking and I was just not motivated to learn how to do it. But luckily, then I got some skills that enabled me to dash more and heal quicker and it made the game so much more enjoyable! (I'd guess that you do need to learn parrying at some point with the extra bosses but I didn't feel like I was being restricted by half-assed game design in the main game). It's a super satisfying game, I don't play videogames a lot but managed to get the first ending without any dark souls experience and such haha
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thesoftestnoise 2022-06-16T09:37:11Z
2022-06-16T09:37:11Z
5.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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Catalog

getlostdave Hollow Knight 2022-09-28T01:36:01Z
2022-09-28T01:36:01Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
smuggler09 Hollow Knight 2022-09-28T00:35:33Z
2022-09-28T00:35:33Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Gabi2908 Hollow Knight 2022-09-27T20:34:50Z
2022-09-27T20:34:50Z
4.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
hearingtrumpet Hollow Knight 2022-09-27T17:19:46Z
2022-09-27T17:19:46Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
handcannon Hollow Knight 2022-09-27T03:40:02Z
2022-09-27T03:40:02Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Userwake Hollow Knight 2022-09-26T23:59:43Z
2022-09-26T23:59:43Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
meleesadposts Hollow Knight 2022-09-26T22:59:20Z
2022-09-26T22:59:20Z
5.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Qwertchi Hollow Knight 2022-09-26T21:48:36Z
2022-09-26T21:48:36Z
3.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
hevykofe Hollow Knight 2022-09-26T21:19:07Z
2022-09-26T21:19:07Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
bobertsson Hollow Knight 2022-09-26T18:59:33Z
2022-09-26T18:59:33Z
4.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Ca_Game Hollow Knight 2022-09-26T16:20:03Z
Windows / Mac
2022-09-26T16:20:03Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Metroidvania
Jazqa Hollow Knight 2022-09-26T09:42:24Z
2022-09-26T09:42:24Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Player modes
Single-player
Media
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Comments

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  • Previous comments (147) Loading...
  • cringeybabey 2022-08-02 10:46:56.963895+00
    bapanada [4]
    reply
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  • Benci 2022-08-05 09:57:09.72131+00
    literally everything about this game is so damn memorable
    reply
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  • Hvlk 2022-08-20 11:30:49.880496+00
    masterpiece of a game, one of the best atmospheres I've ever come across in a video game. Incredible soundtrack as well, fits the game like a glove
    reply
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  • bulletluckcharm 2022-08-23 13:34:40.323757+00
    did this just surpass Super Metroid as the #1 metroidvania?
    reply
    • Convalescence 2022-08-29 18:39:05.806893+00
      I think so, and well deserved
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • alliterativeAlpinist 2022-08-27 08:18:40.826754+00
    holla knight
    reply
    • alliterativeAlpinist 2022-08-27 08:19:37.416906+00
      knight named holler:
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Brandon657 2022-09-01 00:41:26.97952+00
    the best video game ever made tbh
    reply
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