Hollow Knight is a masterclass on how to make a modern Metroidvania. Even for $15 there is a mountain of content in the base game as well as free content updates the developers are releasing in the next title, Gods & Glory. In short, it is an easy sell but if you’re still not convinced please read on.
Hollow Knight is a 2D Metroidvania on PC, Mac, Linux and Nintendo Switch. You are in Hallownest, a sprawling underground world filled with characters, enemies, bosses, and secrets to discover. Your journey begins when you descend into a dark, abandoned town where characters reminisce of better times.
At the edge of town is a well where the fun begins. The game quickly bares its teeth and shows that it is punishingly difficult, yet fair, while you explore this dark civilization of olde. The story slowly unfolds as you venture deeper into Hallownest.
Each boss has its own backstory and the way you play through the game, can be different every time. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt it if every person’s play-through is in a different order. Though the controls use a simple slash and jump, as you progress through the game you acquire many new abilities such as a dodge, a double-jump, the ability to wall-jump, etc. There’s an awesome sense of accomplishment when you can finally get to this one area you came across earlier but couldn’t quite reach.
Let’s talk about the art style. It’s cartoony, dark, and painstakingly hand-drawn. Yet despite this, it is melancholically beautiful and a pleasure for your eyes. Enemies splurt orange bug blood as you land each hit with your nail, until they finally give in with a satisfying explosion of organs and body parts. Each open-ended level has a different accent of colour. A shimmery purple glimmers in Crystal Peaks. Lush greens cover the starting area of Greenpath.
Hollow Knight’s amazing sound design and music is just as good, although the game seems to be on a smaller scale as you play as anamorphic bugs. Big enemies are weighty, large and dangerous. They roar and fill the chambers and hallways of Hallownest as you begin to get your wits together to tackle a new boss.
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to pick this one up. With its fantastic gameplay, loads of content, challenging enemies and variety, its a joy to experience especially for the first time. What better time to pick it up before the next free expansion comes out as well. I give Hollow Knight a 9.5 out of 10.
Hallow Knight was reviewed on Nintendo Switch in the summer.
by Ryan Pong, Toronto, Ontario, Canada