Why Hollow Knight is my #1 game this year, and shame on you for not including it.

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#1 Posted by Ciremo2 (7 posts) -

Hollow Knight

In a year when the top spot of everyone's GOTY list is in strong contention between several strong, hard-hitting big names, finding a game from the tried and true formula of the metroidvania genre as a top nomination might seem a bit surprising. After all, it is one of the oldest genres of video gaming and a quick look at the Steam Store's metroidvania listing shows us an abundance of games trying their own thing. So how can a game in 2017 try to make an approach that still feels fresh, fun, and original when indeed only last year Ori and the Blind Forest surprised us with its beautifully artistic take on what such a game could accomplish, while crazily original games like Guacamelee, Owl boy and Shadow Complex have aggressively bent the themes and gameplay mechanics of what is normally expected. It looks like originality is the name of the game. One would think that there are no more angles from which to approach this kind of game, yet every year we're in for a surprise. And that is very much what makes Hollow Knight so special.

The game itself is in fact not that ground-breaking. Quite the contrary, Hollow Knight cherry picks the absolute essentials of Metroidvania gimmicks, and relies instead on refinement of these elements, combined with a pleasing setting; a morose aesthetic that tells its on story not so much with overflowing words, but with exploration. Exploration, after all, is the very key element that makes any metroidvania game fun and exciting. As you delve deeper into the dark unknown, you slowly grasp what is going on, and what this grey, forlorn world once was.

The abilities you unlock serve a double purpose of enhancing your combat abilities as well as extending your exploratory reach. Even unlocking a simple sideways dash feels wonderful, for both combat and accessing that plateau that was barely out of reach minutes earlier. Accruing currency to further strengthen your characters, not entirely unlike an exp system, as well as finding major ability upgrades behind tough bosses are by no means new ideas, but rather a unique coalescence of them. A slight element of Souls flavoured risk, makes death a very real fear rather than a nuisance. Simplicity is what makes this game so extraordinary. The jumps and slashes that our knight performs are smooth, easy to control and visually easy to interpret. There is no clutter or overflow of visual input which would make the game hard in its own right. Instead, speed and attack patters is what makes the bosses challenging. It is very well a game that controls excellently, and any death or fall to your death is entirely your own fault. The only exception to this is the true last boss, which is fucking bullshit and I'm so fucking mad that I haven't beaten it yet. Other than that, no complaints. 5/7.

Jokes aside, I'm in love with this game, and for me it is the best game that I played in 2017. That is not to say that other games aren't deserving of GOTY. It is in fact a crazy year for GOTY, and I'm almost sad that so many great games will come just short of acclaim simply due to the abundance of excellence in gaming this year. Rather, what this game did to a tough, competitive genre, for a very reasonable price, as well as how it resonated with me in setting, storytelling and gameplay simply makes it the game that I enjoyed the most, and I wish many people play it so that the studio will get the recognition they deserve.

Would love to hear from you others whether or not this game should be contender for Goty. Peace.

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#2 Posted by Morningstar (2465 posts) -

I started playing it yesterday, and have put 5 hours in so far. I'm loving it. It is beautiful, melancholic, cute and it plays very well.

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#3 Posted by OurSin_360 (6158 posts) -

I am definitely ashamed of my actions and deeds ;-)

j/k, i kinda want to give it another try but i fell off it really hard after 3 or 4 hours of really liking it.

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#4 Edited by JeremyF (353 posts) -

I've put a small bit of time into it but I'm not a huge fan of the Souls death system because I suck. Even so, there is a lot to like about it. It's definitley creative and new in a genre that can feel tired at times.

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#5 Posted by SgtBlumpkin (37 posts) -

I genuinely in awe of how good the world building and lore is in this game. So many little moments that add color to your experience.

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#6 Posted by fatalbanana (1106 posts) -

I really like Hollow Knight but it's not on my list/if it is it's at the bottom. There are just more games I played this year that clearly outshine it. Great game for sure though.

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#7 Posted by RipTheVeins (1729 posts) -

I really want to play this game, but I'm on the #waitingforswitchport boat.

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#8 Posted by benderunit22 (1944 posts) -

Hollow Knight is a great game, but truth be told, I didn't like the combat in it. Specifically the disorienting knockback on both you and the enemy makes it really difficult to time slashes for me. It felt like the crests were there to elevate the combat from bad to passable.

Also, I had a few times where I had a hard time knowing where I should or could go next. Environments within the same tileset often didn't leave a memorable impression, so I had to wander around trying to remember where whatever passages were that I couldn't get to before.

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#9 Posted by Jaqen_HGhar (1368 posts) -

It's my number one this year.
What did it for me is the way the visuals and audio in concert manages to tell the story. The story is mostly told in the sparse way of a Souls game, which I always really like. And so everything from sounds to small details in the environment helps tell the story of the place.
It also has one of the best end boss fights I think I have fought, mostly because how how it is animated (spoilers obviously): Fighting the Hollow Knight is maybe one of my favorite moments of the year as well, even though I have played and beaten Zelda, Mario and Wolfenstein 2. The way he is fast and dangerous in the beginning, then getting progressively slower and more broken/infected. The way the music fit into it all, as he ends up weakly trying to hit you from almost lying down. Then you striking the killing blow, sucking up all the infection ending it all in total silence and darkness. So. Damn. Satisfying.
Of course, you only get some of that if you just fight him, the real end boss is a fucker and cool in different ways.

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#10 Posted by cubidog (96 posts) -

I can totally understand how you would think it would be GOTY. Unfortunately I have yet to actually play the game, but the let's play I watched has definitely convinced me I need to. I watched the whole playthrough and I still want to buy it, so you know it's good. Also the game seemed surprisingly lengthy compared to most other metroidvanias.

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#11 Edited by bassman2112 (1201 posts) -

I played it, and really hated it. I'm not one to use the word "hate" too often, but I felt strongly against the game. I thought the art was amazing, but everything else about it (mechanics, sound design, writing, etc) was actively bad, and I deleted it from my steam account since I'd played too much to qualify for a refund. If you guys want, I can definitely talk more in depth about my problems with it, but I just wanted to throw my two cents in and say that it wasn't really ignored, it just didn't hit some of us the same way.

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#12 Posted by BoOzak (2573 posts) -

I really want to play this game, but I'm on the #waitingforswitchport boat.

Yeah me too.

I remember playing through Salt and Sanctuary and thinking "this is good but I wish it was more Metroid and less Souls.." and this seems like that, obviously with a very different art style and tone.

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#13 Posted by Sahalarious (770 posts) -

I want to try it, but hate the way i'm perpetually lost in the average Metroidvania. Is there some real direction? if not I'll have to pass, looks great though.

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#14 Posted by schindigg (160 posts) -

I discovered this game through PCGamer.com in their "5 games that came on steam this week that you might of missed" article (i highly suggest people that check out from time to time)

Not sure if it's my #1 but its for sure in the top 3, it's a really good game that i spent 28 hours in and absolutely loved every minute of it. The world design and feel, the sound, the HAND DRAWN art style, the overall feeling is just awesome. The combat and exploration are hard but it makes you work for what you have. So many games hold your hand and guide you along but this game really delivers a sense of accomplishment with every bench you find and every boss you best. I could really talk tons about this game but I know its not for everybody but man its just so good I wish more people would give it a try.

The only this I truly wish for is that I could play through this for the first time again lol, its that good.

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#15 Posted by BrunoTheThird (829 posts) -

I finished it. Put 50 hours into that game and hit 90% total completion.

It looks great; I had a blast with the mechanics; the writing is okay -- far from "actively bad" -- but completely forgettable (which is worse, in a way). Love the enemy designs and all that. Yeah, visuals, exploration and gameplay, real nice. Everything else, from story to characters? I couldn't care less, to be totally honest with you. In five years, I will forget I ever played it (I almost did until I saw the thread).

It's one of those rare experiences that I obsess over upon release, finish it, can't stop thinking about it, and only when hindsight puts it all into perspective do I feel like I could've spent those 50 hours in a game that wasn't so derivative in almost every sense. It's good, but not close to top 10 good, for me. There is a top ten moment of the year in it though (when you save the maximum amount at the bank then go back later to retrieve it).

I have room for games that are similar in one or two ways but very unique otherwise (Dragons Dogma vs. Dark Souls for example), however Hollow Knight, Salt & Sanctuary, etc., follow the Souls formula far too closely for me to acknowledge their brilliance as anything but excellent emulation of cool shit From Software kinda did already, you know? From a pure gameplay and art perspective, it deserves praise, but it's no masterwork.

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#16 Posted by halodude442 (74 posts) -

I totally agree OP, HK is my GOTY and a masterpiece in my eyes. I mean I'm at 96% completion but I think I can safely say I've seen the best parts of the game. Its SO good.

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#17 Posted by bybeach (6350 posts) -

I tried Hollow Knight. I just could not get into it. The gameplay put me off, which I am willing to admit it's me and probably I did not know how to approach the game. The art was excellent.

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#18 Posted by Dray2k (884 posts) -

@ciremo2: Amongst the most reasonable posts that I've ever read, good write up. And that comes from someone who doesn't consider Hollow Knight the first place, mind you. I may have change my own views on that, perhaps later. Gonna replay it next year. Its also was suprisingly easy considering I'm not good at video games at all.

Apart from anything you've written, the game is really playful with its own story. Especially the part where Quirrel will leave you for good. Thats when the game was at its greatest and I had a blast playing though it. No other games moment this year came close to what that part conveyed, especially with the games Hollow Knight supposely "ripped off" from.

Its so good that it easily became its own identity.

Perhaps the only thing I didn't like was that I expected this game to be around 10 hours long, but it was 40+ instead but thats not really an issue.

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#19 Posted by kindgineer (3102 posts) -

I didn't like playing it myself to be honest, but I did enjoy watching others play it.

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#20 Posted by WesternWizard (604 posts) -

Hollow Knight is 2nd for me behind Mario (and ahead of 3rd place Xenoblade 2). What a freaking great year for games. (Note I have not played Nier so that could have cracked my top 3 if I had)

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#21 Posted by ichthy (1366 posts) -

I've heard a lot of people praise the combat, but it didn't seem that good to me the little bit I played of it. Does it get significantly deeper and is that why people really enjoy it? The world seemed interesting.

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#22 Posted by Ciremo2 (7 posts) -

@jaqen_hghar: Definitely agree about the last boss. The music and the animation changed the emotional impact of what we as players were doing. Coupled with your understanding of the lore, it was a really gut-wrenching fight and for me it was one of the most memorable parts of the game.

@ichthy: There's some depth in changing your fight style with emblems, but in it's core I agree that it's fairly simple. Not a bad thing for me, but I understand if you find yourself wanting more complexity.

@bassman2112: This has certainly peaked my interest. Do explain your thinking :)

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#23 Posted by johncallahan (897 posts) -

Genuinely. No lie. The only reason Hollow Knight isn't on my top 10 is cause I haven't played it. And the only reason I haven't played it is because I'm waiting for that Switch version. That game looks SO up my alley that I have no doubt had it come to Switch this year it would be on my list.

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#24 Posted by spankingaddict (2977 posts) -

Bought it . Didn't like it . Sorry

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#25 Posted by TwoLines (3654 posts) -

The combat is fine, it gets better the more you play it, but the limited moveset at the beginning of the game doesn't do it any favors. The art is beautiful, and the music is amazing. Spectacular, beautiful and often moving. The story is just Dark Souls. It feels like Dark Souls fan fiction, and it's not even as good as DS. I wish the just did their own thing, instead of


having the curse being the cause of the kingdom falling apart, and using words like hollow, and vessel and abyss and basically having Artorias being in it, and some more minor stuff here and there.


But there are some neat original things in there too. There's just too much familiar stuff. And also, near the end, there's a whole section of the game that's unlike anything in the game, and it sucks. And it lasts about an hour, depending on how well you are doing.


Basically, the White Palace sucks ass. The game turns into Super Meat Boy hard mode, for some reason?? Do you want to have the good ending? Here are 8 minutes of really hard platforming, good luck! You'll need it, cause this place is a fucker. Is this game filled with hard platforming sections? No, you'll be really surprised and pissed off! The only time the platforming gets as hard as in the White Palace is when you have to downward strike those beetle enemies above an acid lake. And you can just not go there until you have the abilities that make that a cakewalk. God, I hate the White Palace. It's so bad. It's so, so bad.


So, it's a very pretty game, and the soundtrack is amazing. The gameplay is OK, by the end of the game, I was enjoying the fighting quite a bit. And there's a lot of customization when it comes to the emblem thingies that fill the notches. It's definitely too long for its own good (there's SOOOOO much backtracking! It's insane) and there are some straight-up bullshit sections in the game, that made me so angry with it that I didn't want to finish it after about 30 hours of playing the dang thing. But I did, cause I liked 70-80% of the game.

There's something there, I just wish it was less robust and more polished.

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#26 Edited by bassman2112 (1201 posts) -


Sure! I'll do my best.

So firstly, my initial hour with it was off to a really bad start. I have a music degree, am a professional programmer, and have made games. One of the first things I'll notice in a game is the audio implementation - and Hollow Knight's is really bad. For an example, listen to the footstep sounds. For one, they are mixed extremely loud. For two, they used about 2 samples, which are repeating all the time. For three, these samples have zero randomization within their pitch (which is very standard practice when using a small amount of samples), so they get so repetitive that it is distracting. That's just the footsteps. There's also a huge variance in sample quality. Some of them sound like they came out of a library, whereas others (specifically the worms and a few other things) sound like it was some dude recording him making face-sounds with his cell phone. It 100% broke the immersion for me, and since it was like that from the very start, coloured my whole experience.

From there, I felt the gameplay was really bad. I had just come off of playing Steamworld Dig 2, which controls like a dream and has a compelling gameplay loop. Though I think HK does some cool stuff (specifically being able to heal yourself), there were too many caveats for me to enjoy it. The currency you collect was extremely fickle in its behaviour (I had some fly right through me), the jumping feels imprecise (I had a really hard time judging my jumps), the attacking feels imprecise (is my weapon going to hit? It looks like it is, but it didn't seem to), and movement in general didn't feel "good" to me (again, especially after playing SD2). Beyond that, I didn't really like the enemies. Yes, the boss designs were varied and fairly cool; but they weren't fun. That and the fodder enemies felt pointless, they were overly simple for the most part. I also think the death penalty was perhaps a bit too harsh, but I'm sure that just makes me sound like I'm "mad because bad" - but that was just a feeling on game balance.

This one is all me (and is 100% subjective); but I also really, really, really didn't like how it approached its whole attitude. It was really self-serious with its "grimdark" thing, and it felt like it was trying too hard. As someone who has played in numerous metal bands and watched people trying to "out-brutal" each other for like a decade, that whole thing is really old to me. Hollow Knight felt like it had that same attitude. "I'm going to try to be super dark and be trve kvlt." It made me roll my eyes more than anything else.

There is more, but they are way more nit-picky and minor. Hopefully that doesn't come across as bitter, it's sincerely how I felt about the game, and why I severely disliked it.

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#27 Edited by Onemanarmyy (4316 posts) -

@twolines: I felt like the White palace & Combat Arena were the 2 places where the game tests you mastery of the mechanics, while the rest of the game is fairly approachable. Like if you want to complete the game without doing too much optional stuff, you're not going to have a particular difficult time. Some of the big objectives don't even ask you to slay a boss. But if you're the kind of player that wants to be challenged, you can find that in the optional content. For instance, the quest where you have to go through the entire map without getting hit is quite the challenge, but since enemies don't respawn if you don't sit on a bench, you can make the game easier by employing these little tricks.

I had hardly any problems with the White Palace, but i couldn't finish the last stage of the combat area. The time investment per attempt was just too big for me. I still liked the idea behind those 2 area's testing you on your platforming & combat skills though. That downward slashing part was the part where i thought the game was bullshit. I had no idea that you could do that and thought the game just put me in a bad place without any options to get out :D

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#28 Posted by Veektarius (6409 posts) -

I don't like how it looks and I don't like bugs. I have no desire to give it a fair shake.

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#29 Posted by deactivated-5ba16609964d9 (3361 posts) -

it was okay just not my jam

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#30 Posted by elmorales94 (370 posts) -

I don't usually like Metroidvanias (I think the only one I've ever finished is Guacamelee) and what I've seen of this game seems especially unappealing.

That being said I will absolutely buy it when it releases on Switch and play it for about an hour before never touching it again. It's a really pretty thing and I just want to see it on that screen.

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#31 Posted by Evilsbane (5618 posts) -

I just want to play it on my Switch, I have been holding out for what feels like Forever to play it, because I could play it whenever I want but I want it on that silly little tablet.

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#32 Edited by NeverGameOver (902 posts) -

I'm on board with this, for sure. It's #2 on my list. Much like S&S, this game was right in my wheelhouse as a Souls-like Metroidvania. And I actually like the lore quite a bit as well.

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#33 Posted by John_Wiswell (299 posts) -

I'm madly in love with it. I keep going back to it and keep discovering more cool stuff about its world. It's an amazing piece of work.

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#34 Posted by Fezrock (727 posts) -

I really liked almost everything about Hollow Knight, but I had two medium-sized complaints about it:

1) The amount of time it takes to get the "good" ending is way out of whack. By the time I had gotten to the point where I could get the "bad" ending, I felt satisfied with how much I'd played and was ready to move on; and when I looked in a guide what I still needed to do, I just gave up.

2) The mini-map is terrible in terms of showing what's a dead-end vs. what's a path that you can't access yet. And it gives no indication at all of what kind of movement ability you need. Every time I got a new one, I had to revisit every area in the game to check if there was something unlocked for me to do. Some streamlining would've been nice.

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#35 Posted by sammo21 (5968 posts) -

I have limited time to play games because of a life, a job, a 2 year old, and hobbies. Don't shame me for playing things that are good ;)

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#36 Edited by development (3163 posts) -

Wow I’m shocked at the amount of dislike for this game. It’s my GOTY, tied with Divinity. Not yet sure which is my favorite. I can’t stand the art style and a lot of the dialog in Divinity so I think Hollow Knight wins, although I won’t be beating Divinity before the year is up... I work a lot and that game is long... and I restarted it a bunch.

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#37 Edited by Dray2k (884 posts) -

@development: Opinions, my duder. You know for sure that Hollow Knight is your GOTY, let others say similar things to games that made them happy for whatever reason.

Feelings are complex for that we never fully know where another person is coming from, so don't get worked up about it and keep enjoying the games :)!

@sammo21: Thats a disgusting implication, its kinda like you're saying that everyone who is playing this game doesn't have any, or some of these things. You should probably rephrase that.

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#38 Edited by sammo21 (5968 posts) -


1. its not my fault if you're projecting or seeing things that aren't there. The fact you're being so hyperbolic about it is blowing my mind.

2. the actual "joke" is the second sentence which has an emoji at the end indicating I'm joking.


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#39 Edited by Wandrecanada (1011 posts) -

It's actually my #2 game following Steamworld Dig 2. That game is my favorite Switch game to date. Mario Odyssey was not nearly as fun as these games to me but I really enjoy a good platformer.

I'd put Ultimate Chicken Horse on my list again if it didn't break the whole release year thing...

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#40 Posted by Briggs713 (274 posts) -

It was good enough. I found it had a lot of pacing issues i.e. too long between upgrades. I also didn't find the number and types of upgrades to be that compelling. The combat was fine just not much to it. I also played Ori and S&S this year and they were more enjoyable to me. S&S is very Dark Souls with some Metroidvania backtracking and navigating. Ori is very much a Metroidvania with some tough sections. Hollow Knight looks great, sounds great and controls great but just falls too far in the middle between a Metroidvania and Dark Souls. I wasn't really getting enough of either. I don't think it will make the top 10 for me. S&S might be #1 for me if it came out this year and Ori would be towards the top half of the list as well.

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#41 Posted by Briggs713 (274 posts) -

@wandrecanada: Cool, I just bought all the Steamworld games (including Heist). I really enjoyed Steamworld Dig (1). Does 2 add a lot of upgrades and new stuff?

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#42 Posted by mcbisquick (54 posts) -

I've been calling Hollow Knight the "Best Game I didn't Actually Enjoy Playing" of 2017. Loved the tone, the visual design, and I thought the controls were really snappy. But for me, there's something about how that game flows on the exploration side that was more exhausting than rewarding. I didn't like the map system, and I really didn't like how environmental hazards throughout most of the game didn't just damage you but knocked you back to a checkpoint so you had to redo a lot of the platforming. Also the really meaningful upgrades felt few and far between, so it never felt like getting around ever got substantially more fun.

I did get the Dream No More ending, but finishing the game felt like something I was doing more for pride than enjoyment. Still, I'm glad it clicked with other people. It's a very impressive game. I just wish I liked it more.

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#43 Posted by Teddie (2138 posts) -

I played it for a few hours and never felt compelled to pick it up again. Didn't think there was anything wrong with it, but I didn't enjoy being in the "world" and couldn't really get into much beyond that. I'll probably give it another shot some other time, I've definitely needed to come back to some games in the right mindset to really enjoy them before.

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#44 Posted by Dray2k (884 posts) -

@sammo21: Meh, sorry then! It just seemed strange.

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#45 Edited by sodapop7 (657 posts) -

It's definitely on my list, but not very close to the top. Too many great games this year, this is definitely one of them though.

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#46 Posted by Qrowdyy (366 posts) -

It's near the top of my 'to play' list. Just way to many 50-100+ hour games this year. I think I'll play it as a palate cleanser after AC:O.

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#47 Posted by Nordom (63 posts) -

Its my GOTY aswell. I really like the visual and sound design. And loved the hands off approach the game goes for. I had fun exploring and discovering things on my own.

I also don't find it as punishing as other 2d platformers. Yes, the difficulty might be similar, but there are no instant death scenarios and you also have a healing ability, which meant it was rare I would die outside of boss/challenge fights.

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#48 Posted by jmdoane (55 posts) -

It's my GOTY, but then I didn't play too many new releases this year, still working on older stuff.

Some advise for people giving it a try:

The annoying little "knockback" thing you get whenever hitting an enemy can be disabled via a badge you get pretty early on in the game. I equipped it as soon as I got it and never took it off.

It's a gigantic, sprawling map and extremely non-linear. I played with a user created map open on my phone the whole time and I don't regret it.

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#49 Edited by ilserpente (174 posts) -

It's my GOTY, and I was a little bummed that the only person on staff that gave it much attention is the person who doesn't like metroivania games. It was good to hear that Abby was playing and enjoying it later on in the year, but I can't imagine it'll get much love for the GOTY discussions. Seeing as how none of the souls games or bloodborne made a GB top-10 GOTY list in their respective release years, I guess I've just accepted that my tastes are quite different than the staff of GB's.

I don't think HK is revolutionary. I do think that it is an incredibly well-made, thoughtfully designed Metroivania-style game. It nails the platforming, combat, and explorations components of the genre so well. The atmosphere and world building are also top-notch and I think the setting is quite creative. I love the lore, the music, the characters, and all of the thoughtful little details the designers put in.

I think Rorie and some of the other staff members complained about the map system, but I thought it was implemented quite well. When you get to a new area, the exploration feels more rewarding and daring as you veer further off your map and deeper into an uncharted area. You're focusing on the area itself rather than hitting select every 15 seconds to see where you are, which helps you internalize an area. When you finally hear the familiar sound of the map-marker close by, a sense of relief and accomplishment washes over you. In a genre where exploration is one of the key tenants, it makes sense to give it more emphasis. It gives you a little taste of the danger and alien nature of the original metroid. Maps are an important tool in these games, and treating them as rewards for exploration makes sense.

In all, HK is my favorite Metroidvania I've played, and I've played a lot of them. Of all the great games I've played this year, HK is the only one that I feel didn't have any major problems.

Joseph Anderson's youtube review of this is quite good and thorough, and I would recommend checking it out.

The game is a stunning achievement considering a team or 3-4 people developed it, and it's an incredible value at its MSRP of $15. I'll probably buy the Switch version just to support the team.

EDIT: Also, I think people are too quick to lump this in and compare it with Dark Souls. The only major shared mechanic between the two games is that you need to complete a corpse run when you die in order to recover lost currency. FWIW, I spent nearly 40 hours with HK and finished it to 106%, and I was able to successfully recover my corpse every single time I died. The mechanic is not overbearing at all. Salt and Sanctuary went much further to try to emulate Dark Souls, including a much more animation-priority heavy combat system. Hollow Knight feels like it combines SOTN's combat / feel and fast travel, Super Metroid's exploration and upgrade system, and Ori's movement / platforming.

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#50 Edited by BrunoTheThird (829 posts) -

I'm sure Team Cherry would cite the Souls series, Super Metroid, and Castlevania as their three main influences, so I don't think anyone is too quick to associate it with any of those. The Souls series was the modern continuation of many systems and ideas put into place by those two series, and Hollow Knight borrows a lot from the design ethic and world-building style From Software popularized again. The process of "hollowing", of the world and its inhabitants; the mysterious characters whose words betray their wisdom and deviousness; the somewhat cryptic item descriptions; the concept of 'souls' being used for various things as an energy source (some were even trying to use souls to fight the infection, a bit like people harnessing soul arts in Demon's Souls to fight off the demons); and plenty of the character/enemy designs are very clearly influenced by it, along with environments and even enemy fight patterns.

Mechanically it has differences. It's definitely a complex blend of the deliberateness of attacks and animation priority in DS, and the cleaner, snappier combat from later 2D Castlevanias. The charms are very similar to the rings in Souls, in terms of their attributes and designs.

I wasn't trying to be reductive, but all of that -- and more that I've forgotten -- collated into an overly familiar experience for me. It has far, far fewer unique mechanics and ideas than ones it's borrowed and honed in its own way. I think that's a fair enough stance to have, especially as I enjoyed and put 50 hours into it. I'm not coming from a place of ignorance and dislike, I enjoyed the game a lot, and think my input is valid despite falling on the other side of the fence in the end.

I easily get why people love it, but I don't get why people say it's a masterpiece at all.

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