The older I get, the less time I have to enjoy games. To me it feels like games have become unnecessarily complicated. Instead of the technology enhancing the experience, it can often obscure the experience and the purity of gameplay.
The genre that Hollow Knight fits in is described as action-platforming but more specifically, ‘Metroidvania’. This is a style made popular by the Metroid and Castelvania games. It is a non-linear experience where the more keys, power-ups and bosses you defeat, the more areas of the game world you can access.
For me the journey in this genre goes: Super Metroid, Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night, Metroid Prime, Castlevania: Aria Of Sorrow, Shovel Knight and Hollow Knight. If you’ve played any of the previous games, you will know what to expect.
And so it is with Hollow Knight. You play a tiny hero armed with a nail, exploring a dark, underground world with caverns of all descriptions. There are a wide variety of enemies in each of the weird and wonderfully themed areas. From menacing mushrooms in Fungal Wastes to soul-sapping spirits in City Of Tears. The variety of enemies and the individual tactics needed to despatch them are the key to a MetroidVania game and Hollow Knight doesn’t disappoint. Some are tougher than other but the rewards to meting out death by nail are a fat pile of geo – the currency of the game. By killing enemies, bosses and completing sub-missions, you will accumulate wealth to buy maps, power-ups, obscure items and a plethora of other goodies.
In a nod to From Software’s Soul series, if you continue without saving and then die, a dark spirit of the Hollow Knight appears in the precise location you died in. If you can make it back to this point of the game without dying again and dispatch your disembodied doppelganger, you can pick up that hard earned stack of geo. The risk-reward of the game is brilliant and there will be a lot of times where you will shout out in frustration as you forget to heal or get trapped by a new boss area and miss out on those ever-alluring geos.
The fun of this game is that it can be played and enjoyed for a long time. The mechanics of battling, slashing, jumping, dashing and discovering new moves the whole time means that things never get stale and new areas open up the more you explore. The game doesn’t hold your hand or explain everything, I find it mature and intelligent. When I was really stumped, I did consult a walkthrough or guide but I always felt an enormous sense of achievement whether I progressed through my own means or others.
This a wonderful, smart and enduring game and the biggest compliment I can pay it is that it goes into my top 10 list of best games I’ve ever played. Truly a work of art and a must play.