This review was rehauled for 2023 with the whispers of the internet saying once again “Silksong.” Will this be the year?
Gamers have been waiting patiently for a sequel to Hollow Knight for, well, A LONG TIME. But the creators of this series know that their audience needs, no wants, no gnashes for it. And it’s not totally obvious to some players, who just see it as a mid-tier hand-drawn platformer. Either way, it’s worth trying this game out if you want a game not confined to an era or trend or anything really; people have branded it indie without hesitancy, but it’s something much more than that. It’s dark, really dark. In a world–run by bugs–in a dingy old cave: lies adventure.
Hollow Knight Takes You Into a Lucid Dreamworld–OR a Nightmare
Imagine going into your basement and turning off the lights. Then put on a soundtrack from any macabre Tim Burton film. Aesthetic set. Things are not the same as they once were for your character though, they are apocalyptic, and they are in shambles. Not even knowing much of who you are, to begin with, there is nothing to hold onto without the cozy kind strangers and ethereal lights radiating this insectoid world.
It’s not really a puzzle game, but it is sort of. Hollow Knight had Metroidvania aspects ahead of the great dev curve of the ’20s, but it’s done with a developer’s craftsmanship that compels. Ultimately you will need to explore to see what lies beyond.
Environments That Slay With Beauty
Hollow Knight‘s combat system is basically of the hack-and-slash genre as far as the hollow eye socket can see. It borders on cozy because although the levels are complex, they are also shaped around your fragility in a frightening labyrinth. There is a difficulty level prompt at the beginning so I suspect that means it’s a one-size-fits-all approach.
If you get low on health you quench soul juice, a sort of healing potion you get for killing things. Think Super Mario 2 hearts, instead hollow bug parts; I apologize for plucking that comparison from the front of a short tree, like popping radishes out of the ground and throwing them at a weird llama.
There is not a ton of intuition about where to go in the game. Actually, it all kind of looks the same so it’s not necessarily obvious. I wandered around in the ruins of the kingdom underground quite a bit but I got so turned around I didn’t know how to get out. But when I finally died I respawned at a bench in the last “village.” So, that makes this gameplay pretty manageable for a stream play session or just exploring.
Is It Worth It?
I must admit, this review can not paint a full picture so much as to give you a brief taste of what this game is about. It’s certainly a classic indie above all. Many people are drawn to this game because of its animation. You don’t just slap together a game like this with some ChatGPT and a Godot tutorial. I think what I like most about this game is its seamlessness. Also, it’s expansiveness. If you want to keep playing Hollow Knight until you’ve plucked every dead rose from its caverns, go ahead. It is beautiful. It might even be a gateway game into the wonderfully weird and fascinating world of indie games for many players, who know only big titles. Really, it’s accessible, and why not?
If you want to try your gaming hand at Hollow Knight, it’s almost always on sale somewhere, and I encourage you to look around. I myself, have not explored its entirety, but I like it, and I’ve seen enough people play it to know that the fandom is warranted. Personally, I can’t totally be consumed by the game’s need to unravel the whole story over the course of several playthrough sessions, but I do like playing it. And maybe you are all about that branching storyline. There is a little bit of everything in here, you can even encounter stunning boss forays in addition to the glorious artistic universe the game is set in.
You’ll Be Left To Your Own in Hollow Knight
One additional comparison I want to make: this game’s environment feels holistic in the way another indie platformer does: the Ori series. Of course, Ori is in a forest, and Hollow Knight is deep in the chambers of a bug world. They are independent of each other, so it’s not like one is imitating the other. It’s not a bad reference for approaching a subset of large-scale platformers.
This game came out in 2017, and it is still incredibly popular. Silksong supposedly is in development for this year, but not much information is out, though tons of speculation–this is a talking point that’s been running for years. Hollow Knight is a holistic approach to video games with a message of aesthetics. I’ll just crawl down this tunnel a bit further, now, but thanks for checking out this review, more at MrDavePizza.com