Long have I waited for the Switch version of Hollow Knight to come out so I could play this impressive looking game on a portable, but as it turned out, the game looked so damn good that I ended up playing the whole thing on the big screen instead. The animated world of Hollow Knight is just so much more amazing looking than screenshots, or even trailers, can really convey. The animation and visual design are more impressive than I expected and the exceptional sound/music design makes it all feel even more wondrous and alive.
If you’re not already aware, Hollow Knight is the latest in the new hybrid breed of Soulsvania games, though its Dark Souls elements are actually pretty forgiving. Instead of souls that act like experience, you just have money on the line, and while there are some pretty important upgrades to be bought with this money, there are a lot of items that are of a more optional nature, a lot more money to be found than you’ll probably ever even need, and running back to retrieve your money after you die is typically much easier than in a Souls game. Results may vary, but I never once permanently lost any money. There’s even a bank you can use if you’re still feeling worried, though you’ll have to find it first.
That was probably trickier than a lot of the action in the game, finding things. Hollow Knight uses an unusual mapping system where you’ll need to buy components to your map to effectively track everything and even worse, you have to manually stop and check your map to see it and it doesn’t automatically update newly explored areas until you stop at a rest point. In fact, you won’t be able to map a new area at all until you find the map salesman in each area and buy the partial map for the location you’re in. This can get a little tricky if you’re bad at directions, but it’s perfectly manageable if you just exercise a little patience and caution.
Oh boy are there a lot of places to explore too. This isn’t your typical Metroidvania game that can be completely cleared out in a few days, no, Hollow Knight’s world has a good 16 large regions to explore, most of which are massive areas packed full of enemies, secrets, and several bosses. This all adds up to over 30 hours of content if you want to see and do it all.
A good chunk of the content is kind of optional, if you’re not into being complete for some reason, though I’m not sure how manageable the final bosses are going to be if you haven’t gotten all the possible upgrades.
As usual with these types of games the hardest bits are in the very optional parts. There’s The White Palace, an optional area that heavily resembles Super Meat Boy, with giant buzzsaws all over the place and everything, and some incredibly nasty optional bosses like the Traitor Lord or the dreaded Nightmare King Grimm. These parts are going to take some heavy pattern memorization, very quick reflexes, and more than a bit of patience, but they’re all quite do-able in the end.
So, yes, Hollow Knight is a hell of a game. It consumed me in a way that very few games do, with an absolutely beautifully designed world with great quality and variety in its combat and enough content to feel generous, but not so much that it felt intimidating or tiresome. It’s easily one of the best games I’ve played this year, as well as one of the best titles on the Switch, and it’s absolutely nuts that you can get a game this great and large for only $15 on release. You need this game in your life and unless you don’t have a PC or a Switch, you don’t have any excuse not to get it at that price!