So I have a question, what would you do if I said I knew about one of the best indie games of all time, that was a beautifully crafted metroidvania style game with deep lore, charming characters and made you never want to stop playing it? You would probably scream at me “WHAT IS IT, TELL ME?!?!?!?” and after I managed to calm you down I would point you to Hollow Knight and its upcoming sequel Silksong. I am not kidding when I say that as a whole game there is absolutely nothing that I dislike about this game, from the developers to the DLC to the support from the community hell, even getting the images for this article was easier than every other game I have ever had to do this with. By the way thank you Team Cherry for making that press kit and making it actually super simple and efficient it seriously helps a guy out. I’m sure you want me to go into more detail about what makes this game so great and so forth and I will happily do so.
Let me start off by saying that this game, their website and a majority of their promotional material was developed by three guys from Adelaide, Australia and yet the game suffers literally nothing because of it. Three guys have managed to create a game that out shines many AAA games, and is personally one of my favorite games ever. First and foremost the art style is beautiful, dark and gritty but still stylized without ruining itself by trying to be too realistic, every character has this unique aesthetic that it breathes such life into this weird wonderful and dark world. Every new area adds a new dimension, the feeling of some long forgotten civilization with the only thing remaining are the husks of the dead shambling around to these fantastical overgrown areas full of life waiting to bring your journey to a swift and brutal end. The game presents this feeling of walking around what is essentially the corpse of this once great kingdom perfectly, with the feeling of devastation and desolation permeating every step.
This is all before I get into the actual meat of the game with is the actual, well, gameplay which is another place that Hollow Knight particularly shines, with the deceitfully simple fighting mechanics that after playing for only a short time are revealed to be deep and full of subtlety and nuance and are only deepened by the use of charms that augment certain aspects not only of combat but how your character interacts with the very world around him. For example early on you can purchase a charm that shows your character on the map provided in the game so it forces you to choose to relinquish one of your precious charm slots or memorize where everything is and for more experience players it becomes easier and easier to decide to use that slot to better effect. The actual platforming is spot on as well, with tight controls and a bigger and bigger arsenal of fun abilities to use to traverse the world the more you explore.
Now I have to say the number one thing I hate about modern gaming journalism is every time a difficult game comes out the cries of “It’s the latest Dark Souls!” appear everywhere but Hollow Knight is one of the very very few games that I would say really and truly follows in the foot steps of the notorious series. No. not just because of the difficulty or the fact that if you die then you drop all of your currency and have to retrieve it from your corpse, but the way the lore of the game is presented. How your character interacts with these mostly dark and sad characters and their stories feels so beat for beat the same but still unique. The stories of those that used to live in or thought to plunder the fallen kingdom feel like they carry actual emotional weight, and as you pass through these big locations the history of that emotion seems to emanate from every passing brick and rock.
Hollow Knight is also riddled with DLC, all of it free by the way, that all feels seamlessly integrated into the full game experience. Sadly I can’t comment on every quality of life improvement because by the time I had picked it up on the Switch three out of the four updates/DLC had already been released but from what I can gather each one added much needed improvements and lore that has had every fan crying out for more. Even the sequel was originally planned to be a large DLC but apparently gotten out of hand and evolved into its own game entirely. Seeing a dev team so committed to their game and their community like this give me hope for the future of gaming and I will personally be on the edge of my seat waiting for any and every announcement that Team Cherry makes.