Dark Souls-inspired Metroidvania: Hollow Knight (the thread)


I’ve had multiple friends of mine mention that they love the aesthetic and the world, but their issue was the actual combat and mechanics you use to traverse this world really take you out of it and remind you that Hollow Knight is a videogame-ass videogame.


Basically my experience so far. Will keep it installed however, for times when I may be looking for that!


There’s one item you might have missed that comes in handy during that part. It’s a pretty sweet charm, and you can pick it up way on the eastern side of the map.


The honeycomb charm that refills health? I have it :slight_smile:

I noticed Patrick just put up a Hollow Knight stream n’ chat on Twitch.


That’s the one! With that you can try any given obstacle in the White Palace as many times as you like without dying, as long as you’re willing to wait a few seconds after getting hit.


If you have Deep Focus and Grubsong (which if you’re at 92% completion, I’m guessing you do), you can also cut down on how much you’ll have to wait for Hiveblood (only on every third hit rather than every hit). I’m super-impatient, so that helped me get through the White Palace a lot the first time.


This was definitely my experience – I went back shortly after writing that post and beat him on my second try. Probably the first boss where finding the time to top my health off was really rough.


Yeah i’m pretty much done at the same point. i haven’t actually tried the White Palace yet, but i found a platforming room a while ago where hitting spikes respawned you at the start of the room, rather than at the last flat non-spiked land you were on, so i know the game is willing to break its established conventions in order to be more punishing and i don’t trust it anymore. Also i suck at platforming and get way too Mad at Videogames to do it well in this game, so i’m done.
Shame, because i wanted to finish the game, but i got a great 20-ish hours out of it.


My boyfriend just bought the game for Switch, and I am so tempted to play it, but I don’t like either of the games/genres that it pulls from. I tried to play some Metroid games and kind of wasn’t a fan of banging my head against a wall trying to figure out where to go. I also didn’t really like the Soulsborne games’ level of difficulty and teaching by way of death. However, I absolutely love the art and what else I’ve heard of Hollow Knight…


Honestly, I think this game is kind of incredible. I accidentally finished the game today at a ~75 completion % (whoops, turns out the thing i thought would be the final boss was in fact the final boss), and all I want to do is keep digging through and finding what I missed. It’s got it’s hooks in deep.
I should say that I’m predisposed to liking it, being a big fan of Metroidvania and Souls style games, so I’m not sure how much it would click for someone that isn’t as fond of those genres, but I’d definitely say to give it a shot. (fwiw i think the Souls comparison is kind of overstated? the death mechanic and world-building are similar and there’s something of a tonal and thematic resemblance, but it certainly leans far more in the Metroid direction)


Similar to Dark Souls, this has been one of those “I hate it but can’t stop coming back to it” games for me. I bought it for PC a while ago, and due to a combination of controller issues and my general lack of experience with platformers, hit a major wall in Mantis Village and just gave up on it. The Switch version released the day before I was leaving for vacation, so I figured I’d give it a try to see if the control issues were fixed. I hit a similar wall in Mantis Village and almost gave up again, but finally got over the hump, and I think its officially got its hooks in me. I’m very hopeful, if not super confident, that I’ll be able to finish it this time. The art, exploration, and sound design are just incredible, and however many times I may rage quit, I’m really glad people are finally starting to pay attention to this special little game.


General White Palace tip I just remembered that gives you a bit more room for error: Mark of Pride and Longnail stack, so if you have 9 notches, you can equip both of them with Hiveblood and have a really long range for when you have to bounce off of certain obstacles. If you have 10 notches (I think the max is 11), you can fit Grubsong in there as well.


So I got this on Switch and am loving it so far, beautiful difficulty curve and challenge level. Is there a new game plus mode after you finish the game? I like exploring the world and finding the secrets but I don’t know that I’ll be able to find all of them on the first go around.


You’re never locked out of completion. Load up your save after beating the game and you’ll start at the last bench before the end, so you can still backtrack anywhere. There’s no new game plus yet; the only extra mode currently is the “Steel Soul” one-life challenge. Gods & Glory, the last free content pack, is going to introduce a new mode that’s “a classic for the genre,” but I’ve seen people saying it’s going to be boss rush.


Actually I think a New Game Plus is one of the things coming with the Gods & Glory update (they’ve had several free DLC packs since the game’s release; this is the last one), which should be coming… soon? They showed off some gameplay from it at E3.


I’ve not had too much time to play since the last time I posted here, but I have gotten through the Mantis Village and found my way into Deepnest, which has both the creepiest bugs yet and some really cool teases.

There was a moment where I was headed down where I could see into a room to my lower-left & I’m sure that I saw another character like mine there. I feel like they weren’t there when I got to that spot (but I might have misread the room) and then I went into the hot spring below – it is a very enticing tease for me.


After hitting somewhat of a rough patch with the game, I decided to take few days away from Hollow Knight to kinda focus my thoughts on it. Ultimately, I still think Hollow Knight is a spectacular piece of craftmanship and a hell of a game, and I have enjoyed my time with it immensely, for the most part, but after 30 or so hours I have started to identify some problems I have with it that I find to be kinda grating.

So first of all, this is my first souls like and only the second real metroidvania game, the first being Axiom Verge, so I can hardly consider myself an expert on the subject nor a devotee of either genre. When I first played Axiom Verge I also thought it was great, but I ultimately never finished it because I found the backtracking to be just grating enough that it kinda soured me on the game. And now, as I’m playing Hollow Knight, I think I’m starting to get that same feeling despite all the work Team Cherry put into making that part of the game engaging and worthwhile.

Hollow Knight is positively brimming with content. The amount of clever, funny or even horrifying boss battles you can stumble your way into is wildly impressive to me, but after 5-6 hours of trying to actually progress the main game and running into optional boss after optional boss gradually lessens the satisfaction I got from each one. I think some of it stems from how homogenous the enemy designs are, because they are so committed to their character design aesthetic that at some point the only thing that really sticks out are the boss designs. And those designs are undoubtedly tremendous! but even great boss designs and battles lose their luster when you don’t feel like you are progressing in the game, and I spent a lot of fucking time doing just that.

Maybe the problem is with me. After all, Backtracking is a hallmark of metroidvania’s, so maybe it’s just symptomatic of a genre I just don’t enjoy all that much. I will say, however, that a lot of the issues I have with the game could’ve been alleviated by being more clear in guiding the player towards the main objectives. I kow that hand holding in games have become somewhat of a four letter word, but when I’ve been playing a game for 20 hours and I still have no idea what it’s about, what is going on, where I’m supposed to go and even more importantly how I’m supposed to get there, I start not having fun.

I think it is admirable that games are looking to be a bit more implicit in the way they tell stories but I honestly just felt like the way it obfuscates things, kinda ruined the parts of the game that I enjoy the most. Because of all the time I ended up running around in all the same locations, looking for something, anything I might have overlooked, the stellar music started feeling monotonous and samey, the expressive and charming enemy designs started to blend together, even the traversal which I think is amazing started to feel like a chore.

I still think Hollow Knight is a damn good game, and I am fully prepared to acquiesce that this is far more a me problem than a Hollow Knight problem, but still… I went from feeling like this was a potential number 2 game of the year for me after Celeste, to almost not wanting to play any more of it, even after finding the critical path again, because I don’t want to sour my experience further.

Minor Bug Spoilers

Also, Jiji is best bug, you heard it here first.


I do think the game could use an NPC to suggest things you could do. Dark Souls even did that, and they have the old bug by the bench in Dirtmouth who’d be perfect to drop hints. But whenever I talked to that bug they just suggested I sit on the nice bench.

Ultimately though I didn’t find it particularly bad because I was enjoying the game enough that I wanted to 100% (107%) it, so I wanted those optional fights regardless.


I also wanted to see them, definitely, but I was just so starved for any semblance of understanding what the hell was going on that I wanted to continue down the main path, but I just didn’t get anything. And, like, I get that’s deliberate and that is the way they’ve decided to tell their story, but with so much left up to the player I just felt like the only thing I had to fall back on was some great gameplay and a really great artstyle and both things sort of started to wear thin after so much time spent combing over the map.


That specific bug you are talking about does give hints on where you should go, though.