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Hollow Knight is quite a masterpiece

Content of the article: "Hollow Knight is quite a masterpiece"

(minor spoilers ahead)

To preface this, I am someone who was not into metroidvanias last month. I didn't even know what metroidvania was, because I was more into RPG's like Planescape: Torment, stealth sandbox like Dishonored and the occasional DotA 2 from time to time. But a friend recommended it to me a couple of weeks ago when I got frustrated with Dark Souls. I was playing the Prepare to Die edition and it kept crashing again and again, which sucked considering that I really loved the worldbuilding and the lore scattered about in the people and places you encounter. It did not explicitly tell you what the story is behind a certain NPC or event. You have to piece it together through dialogue, flavor text, and exploration which I find so satisfying. My friend knew about this and suggested a game that would provide a lot of what I found enjoyable in Dark Souls, without all the crashes: Hollow Knight.

Hollow Knight was not what I expected it to be. I thought that it would just be a cute, little game that would keep me engaged for a few hours before I get tired of it. But I never did. Ever since I went down the well from Dirtmouth, I was awestruck. The Forgotten Crossroads was a course, gritty underground cavern, and the enemies reflected that. The first few bugs I encountered were a little tough but not complicated to beat. But as I go through the next few rooms, I encountered new enemies that introduced new moves, new mechanics to watch out for. All to prepare myself for the boss (there is a few in each area) who also use the same moves as the others, but in a deadlier manner. I loved the psychology of it, where I think to myself that I already beat an enemy with this particular move before, so as long as I move accordingly, they can never beat me. But they did. A lot. It took me about twelve tries to beat the first boss, but it never felt punishing or a little too much. I never felt that the bosses here were too difficult to me because you already know what they were going to do, you just have to react to it. Well..except for the Watcher Knights (the only boss where I had to search for a strategy online but c'mon…that fight was a little unfair). Aside from that, the enemies were fun and challenging, which is as much as you could hope for from a good game.

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But what makes a good game like Hollow Knight into a great one is the world. The world is so interactive and it reacts to the things you do, even in other areas. It's always nice to see an NPC comment on a charm or a spell I recently got. It makes me feel appreciated for all the effort I went through to get it. Probably the best interaction I've seen was in the Mantis Village. After I beat the Mantis Lords (awesome boss, btw), I go back up to rest before fighting the mantises again until I see them bowing to me. Just like their lords did. I thought that the only reward I would get is a passage to Deepnest but I also receive safe passage through the entire southwestern portion of the Fungal Wastes AND I get a ton of geo, a new charm, and a new bench after exploring the Mantis Village further. I don't think I've ever seen any other character (hell, even another game) that shows me I have earned their respect in such a satisfying manner. Another example of an amazing interaction is when I finally got to the Stag Nest. I felt that the Last Stag was such a great NPC in the game that I really did make an effort to find every Stag Station in the game in order for us to find out where his home is. Once I did some exploring, I found out that there was an empty egg within the station. When I talked to the Last Stag afterwards, I was fortunate to be in the moment where he changed his name from the Last Stag to Old Stag, in the hopes that there are others of his kind out there. I'm not afraid to say that brought a tear to my eye. He deserved it, after all he's been through.

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A few other things are also worthy of note. I really like the interconnectivity of each area with one another. Every one is quite distinct from each other, and it keeps the game refreshing and mysterious (at least until you meet Cornifer again). Also, the way they tease those hard-to-get areas until you get a certain ability gave me a reason to go back to the same place over and over without getting sick of it. The secrets in this game are plentiful, and some of them are worth the effort of getting there. The soundtrack was amazing and I cannot get over the music in the fight against the Mantis Lords. The music really elevated the fight to another level. The movement was crisp, clean and responsive on my Logitech F310. The spell system was refreshingly simple, with the darker upgrades being very noticeable in their damage and their aesthetics. The simplicity of its systems is quite refreshing, considering that there are a lot of games with an abundance of systems you need to pay attention to. You have your nail, your spells, and your charms. With the right amount of skill, you can beat any boss without any spell or charm equipped, which I only did once, as a challenge from my friend. It was difficult but the satisfaction I got from that fight (Flukemarm) was sky-high. All in all, it's a great game to play and the one gripe I have with it is the endgame. The final boss felt a little too easy and hopefully I can find some better bosses in the DLC's. I have not yet touched any of the content packs, except for Hidden Dreams. I breezed a little bit through the game, considering that I did not explore the Queen's Gardens, the Abyss, and the Hive as thoroughly as I could have but I would strive to be a completionist on my next playthrough, which would be right after I finish this post. All in all, Hollow Knight is a great game to start with if you are curious about 2d platforms and this is easily one of my top five games as of right now. Hopefully, this can convince some of you to play this wonderful game, and I hope you will find as much joy with it as I did.

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