Dan is a writer for Parallax Media.
Up-to-date with all its current DLC, the Voidheart Edition of Hollow Knight was recently released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
If there’s one thing Hollow Knight has taught me after playing it for a good fifteen hours this week (to give you context, it’s currently Wednesday as I write this), it’s that you shouldn’t be afraid to steal. I’ve noticed that the game is a lot of things, but original is not one of them. The game takes its base formula from the Metroidvania genre, encouraging you to explore until you can’t anymore, find the correct power to help you progress, and then repeat for another forty hours until you complete the game. The game also uses some other inspired designs, such as a Ducktales-esque downward strike, corpse-running, and vague lore that would be well-suited for a FromSoft game. The game’s difficulty could also be compared to that of the Souls Franchise, with combat that demands the most out of you.
For all of its derivative nature, Hollow Knight is far from a bad game. In fact, more games should do what Hollow Knight creators, Team Cherry, have done and create a game’s foundations based on old archetypes and tropes, allowing for more experimentation in the places that count. The combat, for instance, works on what’s best described as a ‘give-and-take’ system. The more you attack an enemy, the more power you gain. You can either use this power to heal or release it in a powerful blast. This system gives the player an incentive to focus on having an aggressive playstyle, while simultaneously forcing them to choose between health management and dealing more damage in the fight, unlike any system I’ve seen before. Hollow Knight, at its core, is a Metroidvania but it is also a difficult platformer and a satisfying colosseum brawler at times. Each part of the game is so well-developed that it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where it will stand in gaming history.
It’s fair to say Team Cherry has created something genius. By laying its foundations on a tried-and-true formula — one that basically develops itself at this point — the game becomes a wondrous amalgam. There hasn’t been a single point during my fifteen-hour playthrough where I’ve thought: “This is too much like Metroid”, or “I wish they had done this differently.” Everything blends into this one beautiful, seamless creation.
If someone were to ask me what Hollow Knight is, I wouldn’t start by saying it’s a Metroidvania or a platformer. I’d say it’s an adventure, a tasking gauntlet, and the exploration of a fallen kingdom. Team Cherry hasn’t done anything that will change gaming as we know it with Hollow Knight, but they have done something special. And in the face of all these modern blockbusters coming out, I think that’s exactly what we need.