On the surface, Hollow Knight seems to be yet another metroidvania, but it’s much more than that. Unlike other games of the genre, you won’t get any guidance or right-off-the-start perks. You have to explore this dark, hostile world and survive in it all by yourself.
Shortly after getting acquainted with the controls, you will find yourself in a confused location, not possessing any useful items, except weapons. Going down a couple of floors, you want to open a map, but it’s not there. You wish to save sitting down on a bench, but you have no clue where it is. Some currency falls out of defeated enemies, and the same coins are often stacked in low piles, but how can you spend this money?
The game is unfriendly and doesn’t lead you by the hand, but there is no desire to turn it off – you want to figure everything out. Over time, you find a cartographer who is ready to sell a map sketch for coins. But what a bad luck: it shows just tunnels and rooms, without your character. And all sorts of benches and other useful objects are not marked on it. In addition, for each region there is a separate map – as soon as the character enters the next zone, it is first desirable to find the cartographer who left behind a trail of sheets of paper.
Gradually, you earn and unlock items that are available immediately in many other metros. Here, the absence of familiar things seems wild at first, but Hollow Knight isn’t just trying to be “not like everyone else.” It immediately warns you of a high entry threshold. And this is expressed in everything: in the manner of narration, in battles, in the arrangement of save points, even in the mechanics of restoring health.
Instead of first-aid kits for healing, the souls of the enemies are used here, collected when they deal damage. To regain some of the “lives”, you need to hold the button for a couple of seconds, and at such moments the hero becomes especially vulnerable. While in battles with ordinary opponents it’s not a problem, it is rather difficult to heal when fighting bosses.
These opponents requiring a special approach, rarely giving you even a second to catch your breath and restore power. And if you perish, you will resurrect on the bench where you sat down for the last time. You’ll have to return to the same room and fight not only the boss himself, but also with his clone, in order to recover all the currency lost after death. Hollow Knight is no simple game, but if you start playing it, you won’t be able to stop!