Hollow Knight (2017) video game review
Hollow Knight, released in 2017 by Team Cherry, is an action adventure metroidvania game that sees players controlling a Knight as they explore a vast underground, insect-filled world called Hallownest. Players must make their way through this mysterious world, battling enemies and bosses to unlock new areas and abilities in order to continue progressing through the game. Hollow Knight was released for Microsoft and Mac in 2017 before eventually receiving a Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One release in 2018. So let’s jump right in!
Players control an insect-like creature simply called the “Knight” as they make their way through Hallownest. The Knighy wields a nail, which acts as a sword for the purposes of combat. The nail is also used to interact with the environment, swiping through atmospheric decorations and accessing special encounters later in the game. The combat is fairly straightforward, using the nail to defeat enemies and strike at bosses, being careful and paying attention to your reach, which starts ourlt fairly short. The nail also starts out fairly weak, but with plenty of upgrades available when you need them, adding extra length and damage. There are also spells that you can unlock and equip to give you bonuses in combat.
Defeating bosses is a huge part of the game, being necessary to unlock new levels and make it to the end, where you have to fight a final boss. The combat is challenging but easy to learn, and I thoroughly enjoyed the steady difficulty increase. Admittedly, there are some extremely difficult bosses to beat, but they typically don’t keep you from missing out on finishing the main narrative of the game (admittedly there’s still one boss I have yet to beat, which I know is guarding one of the areas that I need to go back for. There are other NPCs throughout the game that don’t involve combat, but who offer their stories (which I will get back to), goods (like extra pins to mark on your map so you can keep track of everything, which I highly recommend to do as soon as you can, because I didn’t and almost immediately regretted it), and services (such as upgrading your nail). You pay for these goods/services with geo, the games form of currency (which you typically get from defeating enemies), or sometimes with certain specialty items that you will find scattered around Hallownest.
The story is wholly original and entertaining, albeit a bit depressing at times. The main narrative involves a mystery at the center of an infection that has overtaken Hallownest, reducing a once great and flourishing world to an empty maze of ruins. You, as the Knight, wander these ruins searching for answers about the world’s past. The NPCs have scattered bits and pieces of information, which slowly start to make sense and unveil their connections to each other as you make your way through the different levels and uncover more facts about the numerous areas and how things came to be. I enjoyed slowly uncovering this information and making the connections myself, so I want to wrap up here and not give too much away. Suffice it to say the story is creative and entertaining, and I had at least as much fun learning about the lore of the game as I did fighting my way through the hordes of enemies.
The originality doesn’t end with the story. The characters are so creative that you can tell they were inspired by insects, but they have such a unique look that they are just really cool to look at and examine. The environments are perfectly crafted to create the underground world of Hallownest, as the creators added forest, water, and sewer areas, just to name a few. So you wander around rocks for a while, then suddenly you are in a forest or a world of mushrooms or underwater with jellyfish. The contrast is amazing, and what makes it even more so is how well it works. You might think the game would lose a bit of it’s continuity because of how different the areas are from each other, but instead you get a beautifully diverse setting to explore with plenty of secrets to uncover throughout. The unique settings also diversify the gameplay and give your eyes a fresh look at the game, because of how the areas not only look different but how the dynamics play differently and yet work together to create a cohesive game that never gets old or feels repetitive.
In summary, Hollow Knight is a gorgeous 2D action adventure game with plenty to offer. The combat is easy to learn but difficult to master, the story is engaging and original, adding another level of enjoyment to the game as players attempt to unravel the truth about the infection that ruined the once mighty Hallownest kingdom, and the design is masterfully created to add to the perfect tone and setting for the story. This is one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played, and is probably the most I’ve enjoyed an indie game to date. I’d give this one a solid 8-9/10.
Thanks for reading this review, if you enjoyed it keep your eye out for more coming soon! (Like the Hollow Knight sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, that is hopefully coming soon!) And if you want a more in-depth, spoiler-y review of Hollow Knight, or have any other video game review suggestions, DM us or let us know in the comments!!
-review by Rachel Grosselin