There are times when players might be saying, “Don’t we have enough Metroidvania games as it is?” Granted, the reason why some folks might be saying this is because we already have a number of brilliant games in the genre, like the amazing Dead Cells, the time-traveling romp TimeSpinner and the awesome sleeper Chasm, amongst others. But there’s always room for one more -- especially one as majestic and wonderfully designed as Team Cherry’s Hollow Knight.
The game initially released on Steam before making its way to Nintendo Switch in a surprise release this past June. But just late last month, it finally made its way to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 with a special Voidheart Edition, making the adventure pretty much complete with its add-ons. And even though it was pretty damn sweet back on the Switch in June, it feels even much better now, with a meaningful adventure that will suck up hours of your time. In fact, during my review period, I think I checked the time once, but only because I didn’t eat dinner that day yet. (It’s best around midnight anyway.)
With the addition of the four DLC packs that have been available since the game’s debut, Voidheart Edition feels more complete than ever, with a handful of new bosses to take on, levels to discover, and secrets to find. But the base game in itself is still a work of wonderment, mainly because of the depth of your quest. In fact, to describe it here would do it a disservice, just because of how deep -- and satisfying -- it is.
The game puts you control of a white-headed knight visiting the world of Hallownest, hoping to discover its many secrets and possibly bring it back to prosperity. But that’s a pretty heavy task, considering how wallowed in darkness it is -- and what kind of creatures wallow in said darkness. With sword in hand, it’s up to you to try and turn the tide.
Darkness Awaits, But In a Good Way
While Dead Cells is a terrific Metroidvania in its own right, Team Cherry makes the genre feel like its own with Hollow Knight. The controls are fantastic, giving you complete handling of your character as you dodge incoming attacks and strike back with utmost force. The encounters get a little trickier over time, particularly with larger bosses that prove to be menacing. Fortunately, there’s a neat system in place here that helps you recover your energy (via souls you collect from completed enemies), as well as fairly placed checkpoints (benches to rest on) where you can save and continue later, if need be.
The game does have something in common with Dark Souls, as you have to build up to tougher opponents and withstand their attacks, only to find the best way to strike. But it’s the sort of game you learn from, so even if you die, you can come back and try again, maybe being a little more careful with balancing your health and eventually bringing them down to size.
But unlike Dark Souls, there’s a catch. If you die -- and you will -- you actually have to battle your left-behind spirit like a rogue before you can recollect what you lost. It’s a neat idea, though you may want to prepare for a fight so you don’t leave yourself too winded. Like, literally.prevnext
Oh, The Sights You'll See
Just a heads up -- you’re going to be digging through this game for a while. When you’re not battling enemies, you’ll be doing a lot of exploring, as this world is immense. In fact, you’ll be thankful to find traveling support that will take you from one portal to another, via a large bug that scrambles around like a bus.
But the secrets are worth discovering, like little beings that you can rescue from jars, as well as new abilities that open up, like the Soul Catcher, which allows you to pick up additional souls with defeated enemies; and a mid-air dash that really helps you cover a lot of ground. That’s just the tip of your journey, and you can progress however you see fit. It’s really vast, and really entertaining.
So you’ve got challenge, sharp gameplay and a lot to find and eventually unlock. But how’s the presentation hold up? Well, you probably won’t find a more beautiful experience than what Hollow Knight has to offer. Team Cherry’s hand-drawn visuals are simply astounding, particularly with its character design. Its worlds are really well done too, popping to life like a Halloween-ish sort of town would. In fact, there are some little details that will really show you how in-depth this world is -- like, for instance, a grub crying in the distance over a haunting loss. It’s a mesmerizing looking game.
Also, this game doesn’t remain dank full-time -- the use of colors is insanely good.prevnext
Another Metroidvania Masterpiece
Oh, and the sound. Wow. The music is haunting and beautiful at the same time, and the sound effects are wonderfully balanced, between enemies that perish at your blade and growling creatures that sit in the distance. On top of that, some of the character voices are really well done. Even someone who resembles an accountant, humming along as he gets work done, adds a lot to the game.
While Hollow Knight’s difficulty might be too much for some to bear, the bottom line is that its journey is something players shouldn’t miss. True, I said the same for Dead Cells and I’ll happily give that sort of love to Chasm as well, but Hollow Knight truly stands out. Its gameplay clicks with you immediately and sticks with you as you make your way through your fascinating travels, and the challenges, which will definitely come your way, are worth overcoming, especially for the rewards that come later on in the game. Also, the presentation is unbelievably good. Team Cherry poured their hearts and souls into this game and, boy, does it show with visual and sound design.
I know I recommended Dead Cells with all of my heart in my recent review, and I still do. But make sure you save room for Hollow Knight as well. The story the developer tells here is really something, and with Halloween right around the corner, the timing couldn’t be better. This knight may say he’s hollow, but his adventure will fill your heart with appreciation.0comments
WWG’s Score: 5 out of 5.
(Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher)prev