Welcome to the world of Hollow Knight, a title released in 2017 by Team Cherry that breathes a new lease of life into the explorative 2D platformer genre. This title takes a genre known for its happy go lucky and colourful nature, then turns it on its head. Offering an atmospheric, gloomy and genuinely intriguing world that offers more than a typical 2D linear adventure.
This game plays in the standard Metroidvania 2D style, borrowing assets from both the Castlevania and Metroid series. Though has enough of a personality to seem completely out on its own. This titles use of subtle, environmental plot cues and its dark and bleak areas give a feel similar to games like Bloodborne or the Souls series. It’s a combination we have seldom seen and its executed beautifully.
Branching paths and hidden gems
This game could have easily been an atmospheric but otherwise linear 2D adventure, taking cues from Limbo or Inside. Though this game decides to go against the grain, offering a bunch of diverging paths, hidden secrets and lots of aspects that add to the story and in-game world that reward the inquisitiveness of players.
This approach lends itself to the subtle storytelling and integrated mechanic tutorials. Hollow Knight pulls no punches in terms of difficulty. You aren’t jumping on goombas and gliding to victory in this 2D adventure. The game aims to challenge the player right from the offset, setting the precedent that despite the cutesy art style, this game is no walk in the park.
Bleak but Beautiful
One of the most appealing aspects of the title is how it looks. The game has such a range in terms of environments to traverse. You will find yourself in cold and dark caves, glowing fungal marshes, underwater utopias and hexagonally detailed beehive structures. Each with their own unique style, hues and details to make them stand out on their own.
Then this is coupled with the hand-drawn cartoon style similar to other challenging 2D platformer Shovel Knight. It sets the player amidst a world of fascinating lore and story to uncover, with the visuals on offer being a huge motivation for players to continue on their path.
Tight and Refined Combat
The combat for Hollow Knight is very well designed. It takes the simple sword combat from the likes of dungeon crawler Rogue Legacy and then ups the ante. It will require sharp reactions, precise timing and keen observation of enemy attack patterns to get through each section unscathed. Players will eventually have to combine these sharp attack skills with newly acquired powerups. These offer the ability to reach new areas, traverse with more efficiency and also offer a great deal of advantages when engaged in battle. Though, one of the saving graces for players who do struggle to adapt to these harsh but fair mechanics is the soul system that allows you to heal. If you inflict damage on enemies, you gain souls and can retrieve health. It’s reminiscent of Bloodborne’s health system and encourages a more attack minded approach.
A cavalcade of content
What is most striking about Hollow Knight is the sheer amount of things to do and the replayability it provides. With a single playthrough runtime of over fifteen hours, this game packs so much into its cute and cartoonish story. It’s through a focus on emergent gameplay from developers that really makes this work well. You never know if you are going the right way through the caverns and areas, though the beauty of it is that there isn’t really a proper path to follow.
You are urged to play your own way at your own pace. Then with the addition of a new game plus mode, you can do it all over again with the added difficulty. Allowing you to take in the world again but with a new understanding and perspective of events. Not to mention a very good grasp of the core mechanics.
Far from a hollow experience
Hollow knight has taken the 2D platform and bent it to its will. Creating a game that is far more deep and full of content than it has any right to be. The similarities to brilliant titles like Shovel Knight, Bloodborne and Metroid only show how expertly crafted this title is. The art style is so unique and varied, the sound and music is beautiful. The combat is hard but fair and the plot offers as much or as little as players are willing to seek out. Making it perfect for those who love narrative and those that simply want gameplay. If you haven’t taken the time to play this re-imagining of the 2D genre, we urge you to make the time.
- Astounding hand-drawn visuals
- Subtle integrated storytelling
- Tight and refined mechanics.
- Lots of additional content
- Challenging difficulty, not for everyone
Download Hollow Knight
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
The problem with indie games is that sometimes, some of the greatest titles have promotion issues. You know, not enough media cover or ads, and this was, at least in the beginning, the case of Hollow Knight. A Metroidvania that's full of originality and creativity that for some time flew a bit under the radar. Lucky for us, a game such as this one didn't simply disappear, and became an instant classic.
Now, after Hollow Knight's success, there's even a sequel coming soon, Hollow Knight Silksong will be released later this year. Developed by the very same small team of three guys from Team Cherry.
About the game
The plot's not very clear to the player from the start and is never directly explained. You'll have to explore around the world and interact with different NPC's to understand what's this all about. And since that's part of what makes the game interesting, we are not going to spoil it here. It's enough to say that you play a knighted insect-like being adventuring into Dartmouth, a little tow over the ruins of Hallownest. From there you're going to travel around Hallownest to discover the traces of the forgotten kingdom and face the evil beings that now inhabit there.
A lot of inspiration in a small presentation
Hollow Knight is an excellent example of what inspired indie devs can deliver, even if they come from a relatively small Kickstarter campaign. The narrative is similar to the style found in FromSoftware's Dark Souls series. Where the player must explore and uncover the whole story of the world the game takes place in.
Not only that, but the visual style also resembles a Tim Burton movie, full of beautiful art and animations. The Gameplay is challenging and exciting, it really represents a charming and interesting experience.
It's hard to believe that this game was actually developed just by three guys. There's a lot of work put into it, hard work that shows excellent results. The narrative, the art style, the gameplay and even the music in this game, everything is amazing. An exciting original take on the Metroidvania genre, with tons of personality and creativity.
Graphics and Visuals: The entire game is hand-drawn. This includes the backgrounds, character animations, special effects, everything. It has a unique and beautiful art style that overflows personality. Charming character design, excellent atmosphere, nice moves, and excellent animations. It may look a bit simple at first glance but when you take your moment to really check it out, it's an entirely different thing.
Gameplay: This game takes the best elements of any Metroidvania game, adding some of the coolest features from the Souls series, and puts it into a cute little package. The gameplay can be challenging, there's no life bar, but rather life points. Each time you're touched it deals the same amount of damage. This can be a little annoying, keeping in mind that it can be a minor enemy or a sub-boss attack. There's no stamina bar or level-ups in this game, but there's light customization through different items.
Sound: Once again, it's surprising what this game did with three developers alone, but the music is amazing. It's the perfect addition to the whole atmosphere present in the game. Excellent soundtrack and sound design that really brings Hollow Knight's world to life.