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Hollow Knight is a 2017 Metroidvania video game developed and published by independent developer Team Cherry. In the game, the player controls the Knight, a nameless insectoid warrior, who explores Hallownest, a fallen kingdom plagued by a supernatural disease, known as the infection. The game is set in diverse subterranean locations, and it features friendly and hostile insectoid characters and numerous bosses. Players have the opportunity to unlock new abilities as they explore each location, along with pieces of lore and flavour text that are spread throughout the kingdom.
The concept behind Hollow Knight was originally conceived in 2013 in the Ludum Dare game jam. Team Cherry wanted to create a game inspired by older platformers that replicated the explorational aspects of its influences. Inspirations for the game include Faxanadu, Metroid, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and Mega Man X. Development was partially funded through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that raised over A$57,000 by the end of 2014. It was released for Windows, Linux, and macOS, in early 2017 and for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in 2018. After release, Team Cherry supported the game with four expansions.
Hollow Knight was well received by critics, with particular praise for its music, art style, worldbuilding, atmosphere, combat and level of difficulty. By December 2020, the game had sold 3 million copies. A sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, is currently in development.
Hollow Knight is a 2D side-scrolling Metroidvania game that takes place in Hallownest, a fictional underground kingdom. The player controls an insect-like, silent, nameless knight while exploring the underground world. The Knight wields a type of sword called a Nail, which is used in both combat and environmental interaction.
In most areas of the game, players encounter hostile bugs and other creatures. Melee combat involves using the Nail to strike enemies from a short distance. The player can also learn spells, allowing for long-range attacks. Defeated enemies drop currency called Geo. The Knight starts with a limited number of hit points, which are represented by masks. "Mask Shards" can be collected throughout the game to increase the player's maximum number of masks. By striking enemies, the Knight gains Soul, which is stored in the Soul Vessel. If all masks are lost, the Knight dies and a Shade enemy appears where they died. The player loses all Geo and can hold a reduced amount of Soul. Players need to defeat the Shade enemy to recover the lost currency and to carry the normal amount of Soul. The game continues from the last visited bench the character sat on, which are scattered throughout the game world and act as save points and places where the player can change their charms. Initially the player can only use Soul to "Focus" and regenerate masks, but as the game progresses, players unlock and collect several offensive spells which consume Soul. Additional Soul Vessels, used to hold more Soul, can be acquired throughout the game.
Many areas feature more challenging enemies and bosses which the player may need to defeat in order to progress further. Defeating some bosses grants the player access to new abilities. Later in the game, players acquire the Dream Nail, a special sword that can access the minds of Hallownest's creatures. It also enables the player to face more challenging versions of a few bosses and to break the seal to the final boss. If the player defeats the final boss of the game, they are given access to a mode called "Steel Soul". In this mode, dying is permanent, i.e. if the Knight loses all of their masks, the save slot will be reset.
During the game, the player encounters bug-themed non-player characters (NPCs) with whom they can interact. These characters provide information about the game's plot and lore, offer aid, and sell items or services. The player can upgrade the Knight's Nail to deal more damage or find Soul Vessels to carry more Soul. During the course of the game, players acquire items that provide new movement abilities including an additional mid-air jump (Monarch Wings), adhering to walls and jumping off them (Mantis Claw), a quick dash (Mothwing Cloak), and a speedy super dash (Crystal Heart). The player can learn other combat abilities, known as Nail Arts, and the aforementioned spells. To further customise the Knight, players can equip various charms, which can be found or purchased from NPCs. Some of their effects include improved combat abilities or skills, granting more masks without regeneration, greater mobility, easier collecting of Geo or Soul, and other transformations to the Knight. Equipping a charm takes up a certain number of limited slots, called notches.
Hallownest consists of several large, inter-connected areas with unique themes. With its nonlinear gameplay design, Hollow Knight does not bind the player to one path through the game nor require them to explore the whole world, there are entire places that can be missed when finishing the game, though there are obstacles that limit the player's access to various areas. The player may need to progress in the story of the game, or acquire a specific movement ability, skill, or item to progress further. To fast travel through the game's world, the player can use Stag Stations, terminals connected to network of tunnels that are traversed via giant stag beetles; players can only travel to previously visited and unlocked stations. Other fast travel methods, such as trams, lifts, and the "Dreamgate", are encountered later in the game.
At the outset of the game, the Knight arrives in Dirtmouth, a quiet town that sits just above the remains of the kingdom of Hallownest and is home to Elderbug, the first NPC the knight meets. As the Knight ventures through the ruins, they learn that Hallownest was once a flourishing kingdom which fell after becoming overrun with "The Infection", a supernatural disease that drove the kingdom's citizens to madness and undeath. Hallownest's ruler, The Pale King, had previously attempted to lock away the Infection in the Temple of the Black Egg. Despite the temple's magical seals, the disease managed to escape and Hallownest fell into ruin. The Knight's mission is to find and kill three bugs called the Dreamers, who act as the living seals on the temple door. Once the seals have been removed, the Knight may confront the source of the Infection. This quest brings the Knight into conflict with Hornet, a warrior who tests their combat prowess in several battles.
Throughout the game, it is implied that the Knight was a Vessel who managed to escape the Abyss. They gradually defeat the Dreamers and their guardians, removing the seals on the door. Inside, they encounter and battle with the infected Hollow Knight. Depending on the player's actions, multiple endings can then be achieved. These endings include the Knight defeating the infected Hollow Knight and taking its place containing the Radiance, defeating the Hollow Knight with Hornet's assistance, or using the Void Heart item to directly fight and defeat the Radiance inside the Dream Realm.
More content was added to Hollow Knight with the fourth and final expansion, Godmaster, in which the Knight can battle harder versions of all of the bosses in the game through a series of challenges. The main hub of the expansion is known as Godhome, and is accessed by using the Dream Nail on a new NPC called the Godseeker. Within Godhome are five "pantheons", each being a "boss rush", containing a set of bosses that must all be defeated consecutively without dying. The final pantheon, the Pantheon of Hallownest, contains every boss in the game or alternate forms of original bosses. If the Knight completes the Pantheon of Hallownest, the Absolute Radiance, a more powerful version of the Radiance, appears, acting as the new final boss. Upon defeating it, two unique endings can then be achieved, each involving the destruction of Godhome by a powerful Void creature.
The idea that prompted the creation of Hollow Knight originated in a game jam, Ludum Dare 2013, in which two of the game's developers, Ari Gibson and William Pellen, developed a game called Hungry Knight, in which the character that would later become the Knight kills bugs to stave off starvation. The game, considered "not very good", used to hold a 1/5 star rating on Newgrounds, but has since increased to 4/5. The developers decided to work on another game jam with the theme "Beneath the Surface", but missed the deadline. However, the concept gave them the idea to create a game with an underground setting, a "deep, old kingdom", and insect characters.
Influences for the game include Faxanadu, Metroid, Zelda II, and Mega Man X. Team Cherry noted that Hallownest was in some ways the inverse of the world tree setting in Faxanadu. The team also noted that they wanted to replicate the sense of wonder and discovery of games from their childhood from such games, in which "[t]here could be any crazy secret or weird creature."
Believing that control of the character was most important for the player's enjoyment of the game, the developers based the Knight's movement on Mega Man X. They gave the character no acceleration when moving horizontally, as well as a large amount of aerial control and the ability to interrupt one's jump with a dash. This was meant to make the player feel that any hit they took could have been avoided right up until the last second. 041b061a72