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Game Review #210: Hollow Knight (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Frankie W

Developer: Team Cherry

Publisher: Team Cherry

Category: Action, Platformer, Metroidvania

Release Date: 6.12.2018

Price (at time of review): $15.00

Buy Hollow Knight from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Me Deep Into Hollownest

I have a deep love for Metroidvanias. If you have kept up with my reviews, you would certainly be privy to that fact, and to be honest, at first, after all the hype, I was not super into Hollow Knight. I appreciated the difficulty presented and the aesthetic, but it never gripped me in a way to make me feel inclined to keep playing it. It fell farther and farther back into my list of downloaded game, and I forgot about it. I had a few hours into it—probably between 2 and 3 hours—so it wasn't a huge loss, and some time passed after that. Fast-forward to this week, I went on a trip to Austin, TX to go to SXSW, and on the plane, I was bored! I planned to do some Super Mario Brothers U Deluxe, but I guess my saves got corrupted or something. I didn’t feel like playing any more Tales of Vesperia at the moment, so I began scrolling through my Switch when I saw Hollow Knight, and said to myself, “Forget it! I have a nearly 3-hour flight ahead of me. Let's drop some time into Hollow Knight again.”

I don’t know exactly what clicked, but good God did Hollow Knight grab a hold of me over those next few hours! I unlocked beautiful new areas, new movement and combat abilities, and the story became more clear. I was hooked without a doubt by this game, and man, was I having fun! Let's talk more about what went into this fantastic title!

Nails and Claws and Guts, OH MY!

Hollow Knight, at its heart, is a Metroidvania—leaning towards vania—with its focus on close-range attacks. You play as the knight, an ambiguously gendered little bug person with a snazzy mask, and a nail that means business. Nails are essentially the close combat weapon of the world and are equivalent to a sword. I can’t talk too much about who exactly The Knight is, or what purpose they were meant to fill in this world, because this game takes the Dark Souls approach to storytelling, with a lot of contextual clues and elements that it leaves up to the player and the community to put together themselves.

The Knight does, however, have power over SOUL, which is gained from hitting enemies. You can do a variety of things with your soul meter as you progress through the game, but its most basic use is to refill your health—and man will you need it! Every conflict with enemies has the potential to go south, and if you underestimate the enemies you will find in the Hollownest, expect yourself to have some trouble going forward with it.

You can also find charms—which you have to equip, and you can only use as many as your capacity allows—and lots of other upgrades that will allow you to wall-hop, Mega Man X-style, air and ground dash, and more! As you unlock these important abilities, you will find ways to progress in the open world where you wouldn't have previously been able. That is the general flow of the game, in essence, so be sure to keep impassable areas in mind, because you will be back!

Atmospheric and Immersive

The world of Hollow Knight is vast as anything, and filled with a colorful cast of characters all throughout. Some are adorable, some are terrifying, some are dumb, and some are far beyond your ability to comprehend. Each area features distinct visuals, sounds, and enemies, which are rarely reused, and man is it refreshing! Something small that I loved were just the voices the bugs all had. They never actually… say anything you can understand, but they all really give an idea of how the character should be perceived, purely from quick sounds of humming and grunting.

You will find yourself excited when you hear the map maker’s catchy tune in the distance, I know I found myself humming it even after I turned the game off! The music is dark and atmospheric when you are exploring areas, but when faced with some of the harder conflicts in the game, mini-bosses and bosses, you get these beautiful scores that make you just want to keep fighting harder and take them down; and trust me, some of these bosses will take MANY attempts! They have some amazingly satisfying bosses in this game. The kind of boss that never feels TRULY overwhelming, that you know is beatable. Every try, you get a little closer, or maybe you figure out the pattern to dodge the attack that was giving you trouble! It's not easy to do that honestly, and Hollow Knight accomplishes it in spades!

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a great challenge and hours upon hours of exploration—seriously, this game feels LONG for a metroidvania!—I seriously can’t recommend Hollow Knight enough. This game came from small beginnings, as it was a Kickstarter Project that just grew and grew. You can say this game is the gold standard that quality Kickstarter projects should aim achieve. This game was packed full of content from the start, got even more, and now we have a DLC that was a backer goal that got SO much love, it was deserving of its own full game. Silk Song didn’t have me hyped before, but after a good amount of hours with this title, and a few tussles with the main character of Silk Song, I couldn’t be more excited for more of the world, game play, and charm that Hollow Knight brought to my attention! Hollow Knight gets an ultra-solid 10/10 from me, and it is fully deserved. Anyone and everyone should play this game! I mean, unless you are just bad at Video Games ;)

Score: 10/10

Buy Hollow Knight from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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