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Hollow Knight review. New contender for best Metroidvania game ever.

4 posts in this topic

Well, this early 2018 has been.... pretty dull. Unlike 2017 which has amazingly great games in its first 3 months, this 3 months has been quite minimal in great games. I mean only Dragonball FighterZ, Monster Hunter World, Ni No Kuni 2, The Fall 2, A Way Out and Hokuto Ga Gotoku are great standouts. I want to get Monster Hunter World and Ni No Kuni 2, but Monster Hunter World for PC isn't out yet and Ni No Kuni 2 is surprisingly expensive, so I'll have to wait before I finally play them. The great games aren't coming until many months after this, so this is the perfect time to look back at this elusive game from 2017 that I've been wanting to play but never had the chance to.


I've been waiting for Hollow Knight to get a discount for a while now, and I finally got the game cheap on Humble Bundle. And I'm damn glad that I finally got to play this game after hearing so many good things about it, because this game is FUCKING AWESOME!

Image result for hollow knight

This game has one of the most interesting setting for a game. The game takes place in a kingdom called Hallownest, which is a civilization populated with insects. So you got bees, worms, ladybugs, spiders, centipedes, beetles, mantises, all that gross things in the backyard that you usually kill with bugsprays living together to form a fully realized city, complete with trams, stag beetle taxi, even an entertainment district filled with high class socialites & a gladiatorial arena! So yeah, this is the Secret Of NIMH insect edition.


You are the titular Hollow Knight, a dude which I have no idea what insect he is even a part of even in the end of the game, but I don't think he's supposed to be in a particular insect group. You arrive at Hallownest for reasons that you will discover as you play through the game, and you find that something is wrong with this place. Only a few insect are npcs that you can interact with, while most of the other insects have yellow eyes and attack you on sight. What happened to this kingdom? What is the story behind it all? Well, you're gonna have to play the game and find out for yourself!


This is at its core a Metroidvania game, with all the usual Metroidvania gameplay of exploring every inch of the world for upgrades that will help you survive the game & navigate your path that's previously inaccessible. Your primary weapon is a sword, or a nail which you can upgrade, and also attack spells which you can get by exploring the world which are used by spending MPs that you get by attacking enemies and filling your MP bar. The rest is typical Metroidvania fare: see a platform that's too high? You have to get the double jump ability. Door is locked? Find the key. A boss is too tough? Upgrade your health & weapon to make things easier. Can't swim? Get the item that lets you swim. Standard stuff.


What's unique about this game that's not in usual Metroidvania games though are several things:

1) The Dream Nail. You get this sword made of light that you can use to read enemies/npcs minds, which makes for great lore expansion & interesting insight on what enemies are thinking about, while also restoring your MP to use spells. It also lets you collect spirits which are necessary to unlock upgrades for your dream nail in order to get the true ending. And most of these spirit collections are done by going into a spot in a map which has a spirit of a warrior which you can fight. When the dream nail is upgraded further, it allows you to put a custom teleport portal, so you can go back into that spot you made in an instant. Neat!


2) Healing in this game is done by holding down the spell button, in my case the B button for my controller. This makes for great tense moments in boss fights where you have to find the correct spot to heal yourself, otherwise the bosses will end you quick.


3) Fast traveling in this game is done by riding an old stag beetle taxi. You have to unlock each stations by finding them in new areas so the beetle can pick you up & get you to your destination. This is more like a subway system than a taxi but either way, it's very convenient!


4) The map system is not like usual Metroidvania. When you enter a new area, you can't even see where you are. You have to go into a particular spot where there's an NPC named Cornifer who is a map charter,

Image result for hollow knight cornifer

and buy the area map from him. But oh no, the area's map isn't 100% complete, so you have to explore every nook and cranny and then go to a bench for saving to then update the map. But you can't update the map unless you buy the item to do so from Cornifer's wife at the starting point of the game. Quite tricky, but you'll get the hang of it.


5) You can equip charms which gives you ability buffs. There's 40 of these things that you can find in the world or buy from shopkeepers, which grants you skills like "heal more health", "increase attack speed", "use your dream nail faster" and even "give you an attack companion". Each charms requires a certain amount of "notches", or as I like to call "ammo capacity" for you to be able to equip them. At first you start out with only 3 notches, but you can get more and more from a particular shopkeeper or just through exploring. Mixing them up together to fit your own need is the fun of these things as there's so many combination you can do.


6) The lore building in this game is similar to Dark Souls, in that everything is not told to you outright, you have to look for them and piece things together yourself. Which I freaking love for this game. Not only is it fun to piece together the story, the plot itself is also pretty damn cool! And the best part is that you as a character in this game is not just a cog or a pawn like what Dark Souls usually do, you're a very important part of the plot. Which I will not spoil because it's better to discover it yourself!


Every single thing in this game just....... fits like a glove. The controls are really nice and slick, the combat is fun, the graphics are great & areas these insect civilization built are surprisingly pretty and cool, well except Centipede + Spider town which are just as gross as they are in real life, URGHHHHH. The boss battles are also really fun, each with their own cool moves for you to figure out. Some harder than others of course, but once you take them down, you will feel like a BAWS! And the music..... they're fantastic.


There are 2 things in this game that I fucking hate though. The first is this NPC called Zote. You know those characters in games who are so full of themselves that they always mock you even though they are a completely useless prick that won't survive unless you help them, and when you help them they are still a piece of crap? That's this guy. Here's an advice from me: when you see him about to get killed, don't help him. There is no reward if you help him, he will keep on being a piece of shit until the end. You will wish that you let him die.


The second is this sidequest regarding this character called the Grey Mourner.

Image result for grey mourner

I...... I don't know what she's supposed to be. Is she an albino cockroach??


Her quest is easily the most hair rippingly frustrating thing in the entire game. She'll give you a flower, and you have to travel halfway through the map to a specific spot. There's only 1 problem: if you get damaged or you use the stag beetle taxi or even the dream nail portal ability, the flower will break and you have to get back to her ALL OVER AGAIN. I had to do this 10 FUCKING TIMES to finally beat it, and let me tell ya..... every failure took a bit of my sanity. Not only is the distance pretty damn far, but every single one of those attempts fail because JUST as I was about to get to my destination, these mantis shoots their projectile at me from out of nowhere, making me fail the quest over and over again.

Image result for HOLLOW knight mantis



But aside from those 2, this game is amazing. By far this is one of the best Metroidvania games I have ever played, and it's right on top alongside Symphony Of The Night. I can't believe Cuphead won best debut Indie game instead of this. THIS should be the winner! If I played this last year, this is easily going to be my number 5 in my best game of 2017. I'm giving this game my rating of "so good that you will feel like a boss when you finally beat that final boss, and can't wait for the sequel. If there is any." With a badass seal of approval.



Get this game if you can, especially if you're a fan of Metroidvania games. It's so worth it. Unless of course you have insectophobia. :D 

Doctor likes this

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After about 10 hours of playing, the game feels pretty good. I don't play these kind of game much but it is very freshening to find out good platformers like this. I could easily recommend people give this game a try.

I have found 2018 pretty strong already; Railway Empire, Out of the Park Baseball 19, Ostalgie: The Berlin Wall, Northgard, etc.

Kaz32 likes this

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4 hours ago, Doctor said:

I have found 2018 pretty strong already; Railway Empire, Out of the Park Baseball 19, Ostalgie: The Berlin Wall, Northgard, etc.

Hoho, you like management games eh? Good on you! 


The last management game I played was Evil Genius, WAAYYY back in 2006. It's just so much fun playing as a James Bond villain trying to take over the world. There needs to be a sequel to that game, or the complete opposite of that playing as a Nick Fury SHIELD esque commander saving the world. That'll be fun.

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21 hours ago, Kaz32 said:

Hoho, you like management games eh? Good on you!

The last management game I played was Evil Genius, WAAYYY back in 2006. It's just so much fun playing as a James Bond villain trying to take over the world. There needs to be a sequel to that game, or the complete opposite of that playing as a Nick Fury SHIELD esque commander saving the world. That'll be fun.

Yep, I'm in such a fortunate situation that I do :) It is good times for gamers who likes game genres like management, city building, isometric RPGs, point & click adventures and many more.
I don't have any particular genres which I strongly dislike or hate but I'm not particularly interested in the current 3rd person action adventure / open world games; GTA, Zelda, Uncharted, TLOU, Horizon: Zero Dawn, etc. As beautiful as they are I always get an feeling that the world itself is static and kind of "dead". That's is one of the reason I'm looking so much forward Cyberpunk 2077. The evolution The Witcher went through and knowing CDPRs ambition I believe they are able to make the game feel "living and breething" - finally.

Thanks for the reminder/hint. I have Evil Genius in my list but zero hours played. Looks and sounds an interesting game!

I checked my game list and there seems to be quite a few platformer games and most likely there are many very good ones. Hollow Knight is a great game to start playing these through but hopefully it doesn't set the bar too high :) ...

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