I recently finished Hollow Knight, after having tried to play the game three times and getting distracted each time. The world of Hallownest is a big one which offers a non-linear journey which is great for exploration and adventure and terrible for my attention span apparently. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of playing this game, but early on I would find myself at a dead-end and get discouraged. However, every time I “quit” I couldn’t stop thinking about Hallownest. The lovely artwork, the haunting soundtrack, and lore clues that hint at a much larger story iceberg. Again I dove back into the game, this time equipped with a walkthrough.
Hollow Knight is described as a souls-like “Metroidvania” experience. A Metroidvania-type game is one that uses a non-linear approach to level design. Players can go where ever they choose in the world so long as they can survive the enemies found within. The focus is on exploration. The term “souls-like” is often tagged onto games that are difficult, but also take core elements from the popular Dark Souls games. In Hollow Knight, you can heal damage by channeling “soul,” which is similar to how a player would use their Estus Flask in Dark Souls – or Flask of Crimson Tears in Elden Ring. Also similar to Dark Souls, when you die in Hollow Knight you leave behind your “shade” containing all the currency you were carrying at the time. There is no leveling up in Hollow Knight, instead the player will learn different abilities and find items that will help them to traverse the world and unlock additional areas. You can modify, enhance, or even add new abilities through the use of Charms, which you’ll find by either exploring or buying from vendors scattered throughout Hallownest.
In Hollow Knight you play as a nameless hero, often referred to as a “ghost” or “the Knight,” who seems to be drawn towards the fallen kingdom of Hallownest and uncovering its secrets. While playing the game you uncover the truth: Hallownest was once a radiant kingdom, boasted as the “first and only civilization” which fell to an infection spread to all of the denizens of the kingdom. This infection caused citizens to revert to mindless, zombie-like husks. In order to save the kingdom, the king and queen devised a plan to contain the infection by attempting to create perfectly hollow “vessels.” Once hundreds of these vessels were created, they chose the best among them and deemed him the Hollow Knight. This Knight was used as the vessel to contain the infection and sealed away using protective magic for safeguarding. However, the Hollow Knight began to crack and the infection once again spread throughout the kingdom which caused its downfall. The knight we play as in the game turned out to be another one of these vessels, who was drawn to Hallownest for the purpose of fulfilling its mission.
There’s a lot I’m glossing over in terms of the lore, but I was very pleasantly surprised with this game. I could sense that there had been a lot of tragedy in the game by the music, and through small details characters in the game give, but I wasn’t expecting this. Huge amounts of lore beneath the surface, and most of it is easy to miss. I can imagine making more posts in the future dedicated to sections of lore, my favorite characters, or even just the amazing art and music. I wanted to write down my thoughts after having freshly completed the game, and how much the experience ended up surprising me. The sequel game, Hollow Knight: Silksong, has been in development for years and is rumored to be released soon-ish since it was shown recently on Xbox’s games showcase.