Friday, July 23, 2021

Wanderlust… in a great big cavern full of bugs

Hollow Knight has been my current gaming obsession for the last few weeks. As I have traveled deeper into the realm of Hallownest, I have fallen more and more in love with the adorable yet dark and solemn Metroidvania title. I’m going to share some of the reasons why this game is a phenomenal experience, and completely worth your time and attention.

The Score: Anthems for the Soul

Anyone who knows me well will agree that music is my primary love language, even if it’s not actually one of the Five Love Languages… The soundtrack for this game is a love note straight to the heart. From the mysterious ambiance of Crossroads to the calming and healing melodies of City of Tears and ReflectionI was instantly hooked. The score is very effective in eliciting emotion, and paints a beautiful and complementary picture to the game’s stunning visual art. I actually listened to the soundtrack long before I played the game per a friend’s recommendation. While some of the tracks are a bit more intense (Nosk and Mantis Lords for example), I am constantly listening to the calmer songs while working or brainstorming. Great job, Christopher Larkin!

The Tone: Sadness and Hope

At first glance, one might be inclined to think of Hollow Knight as a cute little platformer with a brave little bug that hacks and slashes across the land. However, the story is quite melancholy, depicting a fallen kingdom filled with death, decay, and despair. I think the cute style brings a refreshing sense of lightness that helps to balance out the darkness, making the experience meaningful and uplifting. Lehi taught us that “there must needs be an opposition in all things.” I think Hollow Knight’s constant interplay between light and darkness is a reminder of this in a way. Even in the darkest of times, there can still be light and hope.

The Thrill of Discovery

 I won’t deny the fact that I consulted a walkthrough a few times while trying to figure out where the Mask and Soul Vessel fragments were... That being said, I had many moments of awe, when I would traverse a tunnel and accidentally stumble upon a new area I wasn’t expecting to see. Part of the allure I find in Metroidvania games is the experience of bursting through a hidden wall here, or falling down a secret shaft there. I think Hollow Knight does this exceptionally well. And the beautiful panoramas and backgrounds are overly sufficient to keep me entertained while wandering around the map for hours.

The Challenge

There are many challenging platformers out there (Spelunky and Celeste to name some others), and this is definitely one of them. I found the boss battles to be quite  difficult, requiring practice, patience, and observation to learn the enemies’ patterns and behavior. Thankfully, the bosses aren’t always required, at least not necessarily when you first encounter them. For example, when I first encountered the Mantis Lords, I had my little bug butt handed to me hard every time I challenged them, so I went back a different direction to gain some skill and strength first.

If you’re looking for something new to try and haven’t given Hollow Knight a shot, please do yourself a solid and pick up the game right now!

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