Drew Reviews: Hollow Knight

Andrew Carlin, HSETV Staffer

Howdy! My name is Andrew Carlin, and this is the beginning of a series of online stories based on indie games and my opinions on them. Indie games are games that developed by independent studios (indie = independent) and are typically created over long periods of time by small teams. The disadvantage of indie games is that they don’t have the funding of studios like EA or Activision, so they don’t receive the marketing they really deserve. The advantages of these titles are the effort put into the games and their relatively low cost. The developers pour so much time and love into these games, creating worlds and stories you’ll find hard to forget; unlike devs at EA just pushing out another year of Madden or FIFA with slightly improved graphics. This series looks to cover indie games’ weak spot while giving them the attention they truly deserve, and I chose my favorite title to begin with. Join me, while we explore the beautiful and tragic world of Hollow Knight.

Hollow Knight was released through Steam on February 24th, 2017 by a very small studio named Team Cherry. Team Cherry is a small studio that hails from South Australia and it consists of three guys, Ari Gibson, William Pellen, and Jack Vine. Hollow Knight received four free DLCs over the course of the next year, with Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition being released on the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on September 25th, 2018. Hollow Knight itself is a 2D action-adventure platformer, or commonly referred to as a Metroidvania. The character you control is actually ever given a universal name used between all characters, instead you are referred to things like ‘Little Shadow’ or similar monikers. For our purposes, I will call it ‘The Vessel’ since that is the clearest name for it..

When you create a new game save, you receive a small poem written by one of the characters, then a scene portraying a figure wrapped in chains and protected by some kind of seal, then one last scene that focuses on The Vessel looking at a small town and dropping towards it. The screen changes to its normal perspective and you begin your playthrough. The Kingdom of Hallownest leaves little of its history on pages and tablets, leaving the player to connect dots through conversations with different characters and the environments they explore. The game takes you through verdant landscapes, fungal caverns, crystallized mines, and my personal favorite area, the City of Tears. Every one of these locations have their own music, NPCs, enemies, and items to find. While you explore the beauty of the forgotten kingdom, you slowly learn of what brought it into existence and what caused its tragic downfall. You also are made aware of what exactly The Vessel came to Hallownest for, and what you must do to protect the few remaining survivors. I’ll refrain from spoilers here, so you can experience the game for yourself if you so choose.

As for my actual thoughts and opinions regarding the game, I love it. I absolutely adore this game. The characters, the music, the environments, and the story all add up to an amazing experience. Ari Gibson drew the environments in such a way that you could get lost in them, and he passes that standard with flying colors. Christopher Larkin’s musical score captures the very soul of the area you happen to be passing through. William Pellen’s game design is fluid and balanced, never clunky once you understand the mechanics. The combination of all these things adds up to my favorite action-adventure platformer of all time, maybe even my favorite game period. Like I stated earlier, indie developers pour their hearts and souls into crafting these games, which leads to moving stories and unforgettable adventures. I couldn’t recommend this game enough for anyone with a slight interest in video games. If you do follow my praise (which you absolutely should), you can find Hollow Knight on Steam, the PS4 or PS5, Xbox One or Series X, and the Nintendo Switch for $14.99. Pick it up and enjoy your descent into the forgotten kingdom.