RWP Week 6 – Hollow Knight: please play this game oh my god its so good ahhhhh

Unlike a few of the other games that I’ve played over the course of this quarter, I think Hollow Knight is a game that feels right up my alley – at one point I began my playthrough of the game with the eventual goal of learning the speedrun (one of my friends actually held the any% WR for a while!), but didn’t get around to it. I’d like to just take some time here to absolutely gush about how wonderful this game is.

First, everything about the movement and mechanics of the game is just so smooth and precise – there doesn’t seem to be any sort of input buffer system (meaning timing is crucial), and almost everything provides nearly instantaneous feedback with a high degree of control over each element of your movement, such as your movement in the air and your jump height. While platforming is not the main focus of the game, it certainly makes traversing through the world incredibly fun and engaging. There’s also the way this movement system builds up over the course of the game. Initially, you’re given a few simple mechanics to work with, with just a jump and a slash, but eventually you’re given a double jump, an airdash, wall jump, etc. to work with. Each element on its own is fairly simple, but it creates an incredibly high skill ceiling with the way that these mechanics play off of each other, with the enemy and level design all rewarding skillful play. (From this to this!)


Not only does it create a high skill ceiling, but it also offers a wide range of skill expression through giving the player different forms of powerup combinations which might alter or influence particular movement/combat options. While it’s extremely difficult, players can actually even forgo some of the powerups altogether, as you can defeat most of the main bosses without needing a particular powerup (I could be incorrect on this). And this freedom of choice is what sets it apart from certain games like OoT, where defeating a particular boss is gatekept by whatever item you find in the associated dungeon, and means that you can’t do anything out of order.

Oh yeah… there’s also a narrative. It’s also really good. If you’ve read any of my other RWPs from this quarter, you’ll know that I have the bad habit of skipping over story elements, and this time was no different. But for Hollow Knight, narrative progression is not explicitly tied to gameplay progression, so my lack of understanding of the story never held me back from enjoying the game, although I think that something akin to Celeste’s Assist Mode could have been added for those who want to explore the narrative without needing to pass all the reflex tests that Hollow Knight throws at the player. Even after I got spoiled on the ending, the ending didn’t really play a large role within my own play. Hollow Knight’s narrative requires a bit more active digging and piecing together on the part of the player, and is more of a drip feed of information which is obfuscated through poems and cryptic dialogue rather than a concrete direct explanation. And so just like the powerups and the routing, it’s something that the player can choose to do rather than being a mandatory action. All in all everything combines to make Hollow Knight just a wonderful experience. While it’s definitely a punishing system, it just gives so much depth and replayability to the game, and there’s something for a wide range of player types: honers can lock in and practice beating the most difficult boss fights without getting hit, innovators can dive into finding new efficient routes for clearing the game, explorers can immerse themselves in the embedded narrative and world of the Hollownest, and I can die 6 times in a row on the same simple platforming section and lose all of my hard-earned currency.


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  1. Hi Anthony,
    I agree with all of your points! Hollow Knight was super fun to play and while it was very similar to other metroidvania games, it offered a unique take on a common genre. I love how there are simple controls, but a high skill ceiling. Personally, I am awful at the game, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to play! It’s fun, engaging, and inviting. Everytime I die, I am eager to return and retrieve my soul.

  2. Hi Anthony, I definitely agree with what you mention about the movement and mechanics feeling smooth — that was one of my first impressions of the game. It feels so satisfying from a sense-pleasure perspective just to hit things and jump around, and you hit the nail on the head regarding why that is — the instantaneous feedback and the high degree of control. Cool to see that one of your friends held a speedrun record!

  3. Hi Anthony, I also felt that Hollow Knight was more up my alley than past RWP games. I also liked how they presented the story since I also have a habit of skipping through the storylines and playing the skill based portion of the game. Hollow Knight itself is pretty challenging. Some of the bosses took several attempts for me and also there is a limit to how many charms you can equip. I think it is definitely doable without a exact combination of powerups.

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