Gah I want to actually discuss this because I want to learn why I’m wrong, but this thread closes so dang soon. But anyway—
Hollow Knight may not feel like an imitation to me because it was largely my introduction to the genre (I did not own a machine capable of any 3D Soulsborne game until very recently), and yeah the plot is basically just Dark Souls. But I think Hollow Knight’s world is more engaging because it actually has some variety and moments of levity and contrast and characters who are like, not all different versions of the same archetypal guys, which I couldn’t say for either Dark Souls and Bloodborne. But going backwards so-to-speak after playing HK has instead made most other soulslikes I’ve played feel dated. It’s an iteration but I disagree that it’s a rehash; I have not yet played any games, either direct soulslikes or metroidvanias, that made me feel like there was something greater that came before.
In my actual rational and not joked-up hot takey form I honestly think it comes down to whether a player prefers 2D or 3D combat, and character simplicity vs. builds and stats. Platformers and metroidvanias are my favorite genre and I’m predisposed to prefer something like Hollow Knight over Bloodborne. Hollow Knight’s combat felt more precise and less RPG-ish, which I like a lot more than being given a bunch of weapons and stats (again that’s very much a me thing).
But I’m also near the end of playing Bloodborne for the first time (after having played Dark Souls for the first time last month) and, again not being takey anymore, I honestly haven’t found much to appreciate outside of the cosmic horror stuff (which is truly excellent, and the reason I didn’t put it down twenty hours ago). Most of the level design and gameplay feels crushingly mediocre even just compared to Dark Souls (which I do think holds up and ultimately really loved on my playthrough). To call back to this thread’s original hot take, I can only count a small number of bosses that didn’t seem to rely on cheap gimmicks or a player not knowing their weaknesses to be challenging, which is super artificial. Parrying is great and the bosses that use it—Gascogine, the Shadows, Logaruis—felt fantastic. And, like with Dark Souls, the DLC ones (aptly named Living Failures aside) seem just on a higher level. But those are heavily outnumbered by ones who were either super easy (Emissary, Rom, Mergo’s Wet Nurse, Micolash, Witches), or tedious for various reasons (One Reborn, BSB, Ebrietas). That’s a ridiculous ratio of bosses that either felt like speed bumps or made me want to stop playing out of tedium. Hollow Knight did not have that; after a couple of full playthroughs I can count the bosses I disliked in that game on one hand (Flukemarm… pre-DLC Nosk… maybe Traitor Lord?). It felt leaner and better for it.
I want to be open to this game being as great as I’ve been told, but at this point I literally just have the last bit of DLC and the final fight(s) left, so I think I just won’t end up with that relationship to it, which is fine. Sorry for the novel on the joke thread.