Hollow Knight Review


Cesar Lopez

The knight and the void become one, a final unity for the kingdom of Hallownest. In Hallow Knight, the two sides (the knight and void) need to unify to take down the true enemy of the kingdom. The bright blazing light that had been forgotten by the people before the king.

Cesar Lopez, Journalist

Hollow Knight is a metroidvania-style game. Metroidvania is a game style where the player is left with a wide map and lots of space to move around. However, there are areas in the game where the player cannot reach until they acquire a certain upgrade from further in the game. Some games that are metroidvania style are Super Metroid, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Hollow Knight. Hollow knight was created by an independent game development studio known as Team Cherry. With a Playstation Plus membership, Playstation players are able to download Hollow Knight for free for the month of November. Without the membership, players can get the game for $15.00. Hollow Knight takes place in the mythical land of Hallownest. You play as a nameless character, usually mentioned as “the ghost.” The land of Hollow Knight is filled with bug-like creatures. The main goal in the game is to defeat the Hollow Knight, trapped inside a black egg at the beginning of the game (which is unreachable until most abilities are unlocked).  

 Compared to other games, the difficulty is fairly normal. Some positive aspects of the game include the artwork and the story. The artwork of the game certainly makes its mark. Compared to other games like Super Metroid, the artwork is absolutely dazzling. For example, there is the room for the final boss. There are details in the chains in the room, the boss itself has bright orange eyes, and it seems to look down on the player with a sense of superiority. In Super Metroid, however, the artwork is done in pixels, so it doesn’t look too high quality now as much as it was back when it came out (1994). The scene in Super Metroid when you fight a dinosaur-like creature, for example, is not highly detailed. The stomach seems too smooth and there are only about three shades of color in this boss. As for the rest of the art in Hollow Knight, some are hidden away in the game in hidden rooms, secret characters, and even hidden bosses. The animations for the characters are also created with very high quality and fluent movement compared to other games in its time (2017). 

The story of Hallownest is not entirely about the part of the story that the player is in. A lot of the important story is from the past of Hallownest. This story is buried under character dialogue, item descriptions, lore tablets (a form of writing the citizens in Hollow Knight used), and even dream nail dialogue (dream nail is a weapon that is unlocked later in the game to access certain bosses and even read some characters’ minds.). Compared to a lot of games, not even just metroidvania games, the story of Hollow Knight is incredible. Nothing in the world feels out of place, it’s like everything has a key role in the story of the game. These are just a handful of reasons on what makes Hollow Knight’s experience so rewarding and beautiful.

In the world of Hollow Knight, characters, backgrounds, and interactable items are all drawn in a 2d style. The art style for the game is eye catching and very unique. Hollow Knight characters remain fairly simple, being drawn with mostly circular black eyes. The realism in the background is wonderfully detailed with lots of shading and lines being added to catch the player’s attention. The perspective you see the world in is from the third person, where you can see your character and a bit of the world around you.  

In Hollow Knight, there is a currency system, using geo. Players can collect geo by killing enemies and opening chests. These geo can then be used to buy upgrades for the player. These upgrades include increased sword damage, charms, and even keys to unlock new areas. 

The game also introduces a healing system. When striking enemies, the player can collect soul. They then use this soul to replenish their health, which is represented by 5 masks. The player can also use geo to get more mask shards (4 mask shards = 1 more mask). Geo also opens up the possibility to get vessel fragments (3 vessel fragments = 1 vessel), which can be used to store more soul.

As for charms, the player can either buy or find charms hidden throughout the game. charms grant special abilities, such as more health,  increased damage, or even shields to protect you while healing. However, the player cannot equip an infinite amount of charms, as they are limited by charm notches. Each charm takes up a specific amount of notches. For example, you start off the game with 3 charm notches, you cannot equip a charm with four notches, or multiple charms that add up to more than three notches unless you want to activate “overcharmed.” Overcharmed is a state in which the player can equip one more charm than the notches allow them. In turn, each enemy will deal double damage. More charm notches are rewarded or can simply be bought by the player.

There are other abilities known as nail arts. These arts can be found or bought by talking to three NPCs (Non-player characters) in the game. These will include abilities to allow your sword to hit enemies on both sides, or even deal greater damage. In order to activate these arts, the player has to hold down the attack button and wait for the ability to charge.

Transportation in a metroidvania is ideal for the player, as most metroidvanias have an incredibly large map. Most players need fast travel as simply walking around would consume too much time. In this game, the player can transport by buying stagway stations, where they pick which station they want to go to, or if the player has reached far enough in the game, they can use tram stations. Using the trams requires getting an item known as the tram pass. These transportation methods do not get the player to every room, but they are efficient fast traveling methods.

There are countless items in the game, ranging from keys, to abilities, and even to lanterns. Keys are used to open certain doors. Abilities are generally earned after defeating a boss, and a player can buy a single light that can light up dark rooms.

Bosses are enjoyable in this game. They are challenging enough to feel a great sense of accomplishment, but not easy enough to feel like it was made for a child. Certain bosses can only be found by acquiring specific abilities from other bosses. Mostly all the bosses extremely differ in character design and attack moves.

The player can buy a map for each area of the game. These maps are incomplete, this system allows the player to create a stronger mental image of the world around them. Even when parts of the map seem complete, there are always hidden rooms that can be found through breakable walls and fake walls.

There are many NPCs in the game that are found and even rescued. The player can simply talk with the NPCs or buy and sell items to and from specific characters. These citizens of Hallownest have diverse dialogue that can change after visiting certain locations and collecting certain items. This dialogue also encrypts the story of the fallen kingdom of Hallownest.

There are extra additions to the game as well. There are three game modes. There is the common game mode, where the player can return to where they died and pick up their geo. The second is called Steel Soul Mode, which the player gets after completing the game. This game mode is one where the player cannot die at all. The last is godmode, which is a mode where you can fight each boss in the game. 

Team Cherry’s most known developers are Christopher Larkin and Ari Gibson. Christopher Larkin is responsible for the adoring soundtrack found in the game of Hollow Knight. This music mostly consists of string elements, such as the violin and the cello. Ari Gibson was the one who came up with the character designs, as he was the artist that drew them. Gibson could animate a boss in a week. It equally took a week to develop the boss into the game.

There are many good parts about the game play. The controls feel in place and are not difficult to maneuver. The abilities help the player a lot, but do not end up making the game feel too easy. The individual areas in the world are massive, allowing plenty of exploration. This is fairly common amongst metroidvanias though. Not to mention that the player can interact with the background by slashing their sword or using other spells. Hollow Knight’s characters remain fairly simple, without incredibly detailed artwork. This is normal in these types of games, as it allows the creators to add more animation to the characters more quickly and efficiently. Hollow Knight has 5 endings, where the player can technically beat the game. Depending on how much you wish to complete in the game of Hollow Knight (the maximum game completion being 112%), certain tasks can be challenging to fulfill.

Overall, Hollow Knight is a rewarding experience for players. It gives people good challenges that leave them with a sense of accomplishment, the bosses are fun, and the optional quests help the player in more ways than one (usually granting them geo or mask shards). The design of this game’s world is absolutely magnificent. It’s amazing to think that for just this month, Playstation Plus members will be able to get this masterpiece for free.