Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody, especially you, Bretta! Love you most.

You wouldn’t expect it at first sight, but Hollow Knight is a game that proves you can find love in the most unexpected of places—a platformer about invertebrates. And now the studio behind the widely celebrated metroidvania, Team Cherry, is giving us something new to adore this Valentine’s Day, the announcement of and trailer for Hornet’s very own DLC. For those who haven’t crossed paths with this stunning, slender character, she’s a mysterious and, depending on who you ask, rather alluring figure who plays a major role in the game’s plot. Without spoiling too much, it’s safe to say that she, like any manic-pixie-dream-girl meets femme fatale, will either cut your heart out or lead you to something beyond your wildest imagination.

The love in Hollow Knight, however, is one-sided and always unrequited, no matter whose rose-tinted glasses you’re gazing through. The setting itself, Hollownest, is a paradoxically itsy-bitsy yet sprawling bug-kingdom literally built on the backbone of a history filled with heartbreak. Its king’s spine forms the foundation on which the entire subterranean realm sits, and on top of that, there’s a subtle and somewhat scandalous love triangle unfolding on the surface of it all. If you haven’t heard the rumors by now, allow me to let you in on the hot gossip: I’m talking about how Hollow Knight obviously has a crush on Hornet, whereas Bretta—the beetle in distress who he rescues—is obsessed with the Hollow Knight. Meanwhile, Hornet is just trying to play it cool and not hurt anyone’s feelings.

Before we get into the juicy details of this tiny triangle amoureux of almost Shakespearean proportions, first you need to know the tragic backstory leading up to all the drama. It all started when the Pale King, the creator and ruler of Hollownest, decided to have children for all of the wrong reasons. In a desperate attempt to save his kingdom and its inhabitants from the brainwashing effects of the Radiance—the game’s main antagonist—he and his queen, the White Lady, began pumping out prototype martyrs designed as vessels to contain the evil, contagious light and keep it from spreading. Let’s just say as far as planned parenthood goes, it turned out to be a total disaster. Beyond rampantly procreating with his wife, he also struck a bargain with the creature Herrah, agreeing to give her a child, too, in exchange for becoming one of the Dreamers who keep the Radiance at bay. Enter Herrah’s daughter, Hornet.

The Hollow Knight first lays his empty eye sockets on Hornet years after her birth in a surprisingly verdant subsection of Hollownest know as Greenpath. He chases after her, leaping over bubbling pools of poison like a buck pursuing a doe in heat. Upon catching up to her, they exchange a long stare, after which Hornet utters, “Come no closer, ghost. I’ve seen you, creeping through the undergrowth, stalking me.” They clash in a heated battle but, just as the Hollow Knight is about to lay her low with his nail, he spares her, letting her escape. Why though? Perhaps because he’s fallen madly in love with her, which is kind of weird, considering that she very well might be his half-sister and all, but it worked out in Star Wars, so why not here, too? (Editor’s note: get your facts straight. Hornet and the Knight are basically third cousins, which is actually great for bloodlines without technically being incest. Also, I’m pretty sure incest doesn’t even apply to bugs.)

Much later in the game, the Hollow Knight, being the dashing hero he is, comes across Bretta, who is trapped in a secret chamber deep in the Fungal Wastes. He hears her faint calls for help from behind a false wall and frees the stranded insect, enabling her to return home to the surface village, Dirtmouth. After she is saved, she takes a liking to the Hollow Knight that quickly escalates into what could be considered an unhealthy obsession, if not full-blown stalking. Every time he passes her while she’s relaxing outside on the town’s bench, she coos with delight. When he creeps into her room at night, you can eavesdrop on her murmuring sweet nothings about him in her sleep. She even writes beautiful love poetry about him. And the saddest part about all of this is that the Hollow Knight, being so mesmerized by Hornet, doesn’t love Bretta back. Jeez, talk about getting friend-zoned. More like Shallow Knight.

What an epic jerk—savior of Hollownest or not—right? If you ask me, the Hollow Knight doesn’t know what he’s missing out on. While he’s busy pursuing what would most likely be a very incestuous relationship, he doesn’t recognize that the closest thing to a soulmate he may ever find is sitting just over yonder. Minus her borderline scary obsessive compulsions, Bretta has a ton of qualities that make her worth swiping right for. She’s creative, curvaceous, extremely humble, sweet as pie, and probably the most generous lover this side of the Howling Cliffs: in other words, a total package. She just needs to realize what a special ladybug she really is. She needs to stop loving the Hollow Knight and learn to love herself more. She’s too good for him, and she deserves to be happy.

Hopefully Bretta will get her very own DLC, too, someday and finally find true love. Who knows? There are plenty of fish in the sea, or should we say bugs in the dirt? Either way, check out the trailer for the new Hornet expansion below, and remember, nothing says “I love you” more than sitting next to someone on a bench while you swap out your charms. Happy Valentine’s!

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Ross Howerton
Ross is a writer, educator, and performer who lives and works in NYC. When he's not doing any of the aforementioned activities, he's playing video games.

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