Three years ago I remember seeing a new indie title called hollow kinght on my steam page. Intrigued, I downloaded it... and played it for all of two hours. I got lost and kinda just gave up. But it wasn't a bad game by any means. The art style was lovely, platforming felt pretty food. It felt like a game I should of liked but just couldnt get into at that very moment. And so I did what i usually do with games like this. I continually restarted it until it hooked me. I've done this with many titles and found the results to be shockingly successful. Witcher 3? restarted it four times. and on the fourth time, i beat the main game, the dlc, and all of its side quests. For hollow knight, everything finally clicked with my third playthrough on playstation last week. I'd just got done playing death's door (I'll share my thoughts on that in another post) and was craving some metroidvanias. As of now, Hollow knight stands as one of the greats of the genre. And so i felt it was time to return
Hollow knight to me is like a cross between The nightmare Before Christmas and A bugs life (Or atleast I think they're bugs?). From the moment you start, you feel alone. Exploring this haunted, incredibly bleak landscape. And while looking back now I can appreciate it greatly, I'll be honest with you... this game does not have the most compelling introduction. As a matter of fact, its pretty damn boring. You jump into this empty town, talk to an old dude who tells you to jump into a well and..thats it. No objective, no set path, just wander and kill. It was this type of introduction that stopped me from getting into ithe first two times. I'd play a little, get frustrated, confused, or lost, or all three. But this time I came in with patience, and the game quickly rewarded me for it. After about two hours, the flow of the game had begun to sunk in. I was cautiously navigating through new areas, and feverishly searching for cornifer, the map maker, in each place so I could feel slightly less lost in this sprawling map. And seriously, this game is goddamn huge, bigger than any metroid-vania game i'd played previously. Even better is that all of it is an absloute blast to roam through. Each location has a different aesthetic, and a wealth of diverse enemies. Twenty hours in and I'm still discovering new types of monstrosities. Its constantly keeping me on my toes and forcing me to change my tactics. As a gaming masochist, Hollow Knight is hitting all the right notes when it comes to game difficulty. Combat is simple, but incredibly difficult to master. It never feels cheap, and every time I die I must bitterly accept that I was the one responsible for my own demise. Often times i'd see my death coming from a mile away because of an attack I just had no idea how to maneuver around at the time. But like its peers, this is a game where you must die, die again. Each time a foe crushes me, I come back learning something new, getting one step closer to putting them into the hallownest dirt. And I can't tell you how much fun it is to challenge the game's bosses. They are very well designed, with some truly insane phases. You know, the types whereyou think you beat the boss, barely getting by with only one point of health left, and it turns out its just the first half... and now its angrier, and stronger.
Every boss has this daunting scale to it. I'm playing as this tiny, big headed, wide eyed mute with a rusty sword and i'm supposed to fight that? Its a question I find myself asking alot through the game. Though as fas as I am now, i'm getting to the point where I'm becoming a boss, having collected a grand amount of skills and runes. Thats not to say the games getting any easier as I am still repeatedly getting my ass handed to me, but I'm a bit less green than when I started. With all the progress i'm making though, Hollow knight is one of the few games where i've put this much time into, and still don't really know just what the hell I am actually supposed to be doing. Theres a ton of lore, and characters to meet in this sprawling world... But theres an air of mystery to everything. Questions that may not have clear answers. A rich history i must piece together through the travelers I meet, or through the corpses I make. Playing hollow knight feels very fitting for my current stage of life. Because whenever I play i'm mostly lost, overwhelmed, and have no real clue as to what my purpose is. And i couldn't enjoy it more. Its one of those games that reminds you just how amazing independent titles can be. There has been so much love put into the art, the music, everything. A love I find being diminished from AAA titles more and more as the years go by.
I say hollow knight is basically side scrolling dark souls. I know that's a bit cringey to say, but I truly believe it. Not just because it shares many of the same elements, but because it has the same level of quality put into every single pixle. Team Cherry has created an adventure that is on par with, and in some regards, exceeds that of from software. Its a beyond impressive title that I'm so glad I repeatedly gave chances. I'm about twenty five hours in, and quite frankly i'm not sure if i am nearing the end of my journey, or if I just started. And thats not even including the games dizzying amount of DLC content I have to look forward to as well. I'll post my final thoughts on the second half of the game and the DLC after I've finished, but it has already solidified itself as one of my favorites of the genre.