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Hollow Knight – Quick Game Review

Hollow Knight – Quick Game Review
Hollow Knight (PC [Reviewed], MAC, Nintendo Switch)
Developer: Team Cherry
Publisher: Team Cherry

Hollow Knight is a metroidvania style adventure that requires a lot of exploration, perseverance, and offers little to no hand-holding.

Combat is frequent, and fun. Hitting enemies causes you to move backwards slightly, so the movement and combat may take some getting used to. There are a ton of enemies types, each with unique attacks and abilities. Once you learn the patterns for each enemies it gets a lot easier, but the first time encounters are sure to surprise you.

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Defeating enemies, and finding cocoons awards you with currency to purchase items from vendors, such as maps and charms. The charms are pretty neat, and there are quite a few of them to collect. Each one gives you different passive bonuses, but you can only equip a certain number of charms at any given time. When you die, you spawn back at the last bench you sat on, and you lose all of the currency you have on you. You can go back and fight your spirit to regain your loot or buy it back for a price, but if you die again before reaching it, then it’s gone forever.

While you do have the freedom to explore the vastly interconnected world as you please, you’re often limited as to where you can actually go until you complete certain tasks, kill specific bosses, or unlock different special abilities. Unless you have a fantastic memory (which I don’t), the maps are without a doubt necessary, and you can expect to use them a lot. You can purchase pin markers to track different things you’ve already discovered like benches, vendors, or stations. They come in super handy, and so do the fast travel stations; they help a lot when travelling long distances to cut down on some of the backtracking. However, there is still a great deal of backtracking if you find yourself lost and unsure of where to go, like I was.

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Pros:
  • platforming is great, you’ll jump, dash, and climb your way throughout the levels – it can be quite challenging to fight your way past enemies, as you avoid projectiles, and deadly parts of the environment around you
  • there are a ton of enemy types, each with unique attacks and abilities
  • fun and satisfying boss encounters; some of them are extremely difficult and require a lot of quick reacting
  • lots of exploration to do in the vastly interconnected world
  • soul system is good: you have a self healing and damage ability that cost soul which is generated by hitting enemies rather than just killing them
  • keyboard controls are fully customizable, and it is doable, but the XB1 controller feels a lot more responsive, so using a controller strongly suggested
  • music and ambience are excellent creating an immersive atmosphere
  • lovely visuals – the hand-drawn art with its gothic style looks fantastic, and each area has its own distinctive design, and unique enemies
Cons:
  • there is no guidance or hints, and you will need to obtain special abilities to progress; this may result in hitting many dead ends, and being unsure of where to go leaving the player feeling completely lost and somewhat helpless (this may be a pro for some people)
  • while the performance is solid for the most part, there are some random, and severe hitches on occasion (this is apparently a known issue that is currently being worked on, but it is still unfortunate to die because of it)
  • maps only unlock for an area when you find the cartographer in that area to buy the map from; it wouldn’t be so annoying if he was easier to find, but it would be nice if the game at least tracked where you’ve been even before buying the map of each area
  • (nitpick) the story seems a bit vague and it’s not entirely clear what exactly is going on (but I am curious to find out)
  • (nitpick) some sound effects for the character walking, and other characters talking are somewhat irritating (but at least you can adjust this volume separately)
  • (nitpick) it can be difficult to tell friends from foes at times

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I’ve been playing about 8 hours so far, but haven’t even come close to finishing the game.  If you’re not into speedrunning games, then there’s not really any reason to replay it. However, I have a feeling that Hollow Knight will be played during future Awesome Games Done Quick charity events.

Conclusion:

Hollow Knight is not a game that will hold your hand or guide you to where your next objective should be. This game is definitely for those people who enjoy a good challenge, love exploration, and don’t mind running into dead ends regularly until they unlock the skills they need to progress. With that being said, I enjoyed the gameplay and exploration, but I really wish there had been some hints or guidance along the way. I found myself feeling stuck and lost; the game’s not as intuitive as I would have liked, so I began getting frustrated with backtracking and not knowing where to go. For as beautiful and well-made as Hollow Knight is, it’s also a game that won’t appeal to everyone.

Press copy was provided for this review.

Rating:

80