Hollow Knight (Nintendo Switch) 2017
This is the first game I’ve reviewed for the blog and I’m not sure how to make the review anything but an endless list of ‘things I love about Hollow Knight’ actually – so I’ll just jump in and see what happens I reckon 😀
As someone who grew up with the Sega Master System and then Sega Megadrive (and then grabbed a Dreamcast just as Sega to really started recede into the background) I remember largely snubbing my nose at Sony and Microsoft when they were arriving.
Instead, I switched to Nintendo for the Nintendo64 console and then, once it became ‘old’ I drifted away from gaming for a fair few years.
Thankfully, the release of the Nintendo Switch and Breath of the Wild caught my eye and I found myself once more immersed in that exciting mix of narrative and participation that you tend to only get from gaming.
Okay, so let’s get to Hollow Knight already!
Well, I stumbled across the game on Kickstarter some time after the campaign ended, and immediately downloaded a copy for my Switch. Since then, I’ve played it through a few times over the last couple of years because I feel like it really does have excellent replay value.
I’ve also been purposefully keeping my games library incredibly small re: physical copies, but I definitely intend to add Hollow Knight to my collection, now that the game is no longer digital-only… and… yeah… so, how riveting is this Purchasing Habits section, right?
But I mention it as one marker of how much I love the game; I’m happy to buy two copies!
And I think if you enjoy beautiful 2D games in the modern platformer/metroidvania style then you’ll like Hollow Knight a lot. There’s lots of action and upgrades to abilities and functions, tonnes of secrets hidden throughout a really expansive world, a clear art style, haunting music and smooth controls, it’s a joy to play.
But part of what kept me enthralled was the vastness of the world you inhabit when playing the game – it’s a crumbling kingdom filled with a range of odd, cute and oft-times creepy insect-like creatures.
And the sense of history and ‘ancient’ atmosphere is so well-captured by non-verbal cues, it’s all really stunning. So much so that I have (to quote Cosmo Kramer) “memory burn” of when I first reached a section of the game called ‘Greenpath’ and saw the plant life there that had reclaimed the ancient city. And coupled with the sombre yearning of the OST (by Christopher Larkin) I realised I’d found a game that I would be utterly enchanted by.
There is a (at first very) subtle mystery being told as you explore the game. Finding these hints and clues was just as fun to me as any other aspect, though the game’s Charm system provides more than enough variety on the ‘fight/upgrade/unlock abilities to progress’ cycle common to most action/adventure games.
But again, Hollow Knight feels like exploring a living place, like your character is rediscovering a piece of forgotten art (maybe kinda like Gris in a way) and so it’s easy to forget those classic game mechanics and lose yourself in the world.
There’s many, many more wonderful touches and attention to detail (and humour!) that I appreciated but I’ve blathered on quite long enough, so I will just sneak in the mention of one – I understand that some backers on the Kickstarter were able to provide voices for some of the creatures, which is pretty ace, but more than that, I think the fact that Team Cherry decided to create a language to be used for the occasional pieces of spoken dialogue really added to the deep immersion I felt when playing.
Now, I do have one obvious bias here – Team Cherry are an Australian developer and so I feel some patriotic stirrings when I talk about the game, and there’s some sort of odd nostalgia/rediscovery/warm feelings thing happening too (as I alluded to in my rambling introduction).
So when I say I feel like this game has virtually no flaws, keep that in mind. But it has no flaws, let me just add that here too 😀
And finally, unlike some gaming companies Hollow Knight comes with a lot of DLC content for free, so if you purchase a copy now you get all the expansions bundled in already, which was tops. (As an aside, I can’t remember if the White Palace was DLC or just hidden in the original main game, but it was a tough nut to crack and really upped the ante on the platforming.)
And so for me, Hollow Knight deserves every accolade it’s received since its release.