Hollow Knight is the Perfect Thing to Tide you Over Until Ori Drops
After writing about the new Ori game last month, I started looking for games to tide me over until its release. Not a lot of what I found interested me, but I did stumble onto something that I, somehow, have never played before.
Now normally, I don’t like bugs.
They have too many legs, which is offensive to me. They scurry up your legs without permission, which is just rude. And some of them fly and buzz around your face, which has made me smack some poor bystander with my flailing arms more than once.
I’ll make an exception just this once.
Hollow Knight was published in 2017 by Team Cherry, a game studio based in Australia. This 2D Metroidvania follows a nameless knight as he journeys around the insectoid kingdom of Hallownest, which is filled with offensively-many-limbed inhabitants, some of which fly. Using their cone-shaped sword, called a Nail, they dispatch enemies and uncover the secrets of this ancient land. As in any Metroidvania game, your knight gains new abilities as the game goes on, allowing for easier fights and further exploration. In addition, Hollow Knight has two mechanics that I really like; Charms, and the Shade.
Charms are button-like objects that the knight finds throughout the game, either by defeating enemies, exploring hidden places, or buying them. Each charm has a different effect, be it adding more health or magic power or giving the knight new abilities. It honestly reminds me a lot of the badge system from the Paper Mario games, except a bit simpler because you can only equip a couple.
I like this one because it adds a level of tactics and planning that makes gameplay much more interesting. You can only switch Charms when sitting on a bench (WHICH ARE NEVER CLOSE TO WHERE YOU ARE), so you have to strategically prepare for fights based on what you think might help (AND THEN BE WRONG EVERY TIME). It’s a lot more delicate than the Paper Mario system because instead of being able to equip the most amazing and useful charms, you can at most pick around five or six. As well, your equipped Charms affect the dialogue of certain characters, and even the ending of the game…
The Shade is a shadowy version of the knight, described in-game as ‘a stain of regret left on the world’ that is left by each creature when it dies. The Shade will emerge from the knight’s body when you die and hover in the room the death occurred in; only by defeating it will you repair your magic meter and get back all the money lost on death.
This one is interesting to me because it’s not so much a penalty for death as it is a penalty for dying too much. When you die in Hollow Knight, you go back to the last bench you sat down on, and if you can get back to your Shade and defeat it, all the negatives of dying go away; if you die again before defeating your Shade, a new Shade takes its place and your money is gone for good. Dying is an admonishment to be more careful, and if you aren’t more careful, you’re punished.
Don’t get to thinking that those’re the only things worth looking at, though. The game is entirely hand-drawn, the art style somewhere between cartoon-y and gothic (think Don’t Starve or Darkest Dungeon), and the music is absolutely breathtaking.
Hollow Knight is available now on the Nintendo Switch for digital download, and there’s been rumblings about a physical release. Now is the perfect time to get it, too; there’s a new DLC named ‘Gods and Glory’ on the way, the last of the free DLC expansions. If you get it now, you’ll be able to finish all the content in the current expansions just as it’s getting ready to be released, and then that will hopefully keep you busy until Ori drops next year.
Ori has been pushed back to next year.