Hollow Knight manages to make exploring a environment fun and somewhat challenging too
This is a game that I didn’t try out when it was originally released thanks to all the comparisons to Dark Souls. Then I decided to check it out a few weeks ago and wow it is so much more than that. While it certainly cribs some features from it like losing all your currency whenever a death happens. Yet the gameplay is a traditional metroidvania with plenty of extra movement options as you go along. Which does mean the first few areas feel rather limiting till it is possible to earn more ways to get around.
Starting off the game Knight has access to a sword to strike at foes. New abilities are added as it explores different areas like a ranged attack and the ever useful double jump. Finding these upgrades is key to progressing because areas cannot be explored without certain moves. Additional charms can be found and equipped to assist in different ways. Like giving more soul points (Which is how you use moves like the ability to heal.) or even making the invincibility frames longer whenever the Knight gets hit. All of this gave me plenty of tools to avoid death and made exploring areas fun most of the time.
Except when I first got to certain areas like the Greenpath. Sure maybe it was just dumb luck that I somehow didn’t run into the map maker till I beat the boss of the zone after getting lost for a while. Except none of the other areas really confused me or made it hard to get the map so it just felt out of place compared to the rest of the game. Especially since every other area is designed pretty well so it was fairly obvious where I needed to go next.
But that is only a minor inconvenience thanks to how well the game plays. None of the deaths that happen will be thanks to the controls messing up. On top of that you will also get a lot of game here. At this point I’ve played over over 20 hours and the game feels like I still have a lot of stuff to do after beating the final boss. Sure all the map appears to be filled out yet I still want to go back in to play more since it is fun to take on new bosses and challenges like the arena.
Overall Hollow Knight is a great metroidvania that hits all the right notes. It never ups the difficulty to absurd lengths unless you decide to 100% it. If you do die it almost always really easy to get back to where you left off so it never feels like the game is wasting your time. Thus if your a fan of this type of game this one is certainly worth playing.
DLC Addendum: Since I was playing the PS4 version it included all the DLC they put out for this game. Most of it seamlessly interjects with game and just made it that much better to explore areas to find new bosses or charms. For example I didn’t even know the ghosts bosses I was fighting were apart of the DLC till I looked it up later. Yet the latest addition Godseeker is a big letdown compared to the rest. It’s just a set of boss rushes that require the player to learn every boss moveset. The combat in this game is great but the last thing I want to do is fight the same bosses again only to reach a new one at the end that’ll likely kill me since I don’t know how to dodge its attacks yet. Great for those that want a tough challenge but for me it just left me being bummed out after enjoying the rest of the game so much.