Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition Reviews

AuthorReview
RadicalSniper99
1,116,745 (704,825)
RadicalSniper99
TA Score for this game: 5,305
Posted on 07 March 19 at 16:30
This review has 11 positive votes and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
I'm sitting here trying to figure out the best way to talk about Hollow Knight and why I am giving the game a 5 out of 5. There's so many factors here that I feel merit positive discussion. As a result, this might be a bit meandering, but I hope my points still come across.

First up, let's talk about the game itself.

Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania Platformer title. You control the Knight. He traverses the world on a quest with his trusty nail (a sword). Across your adventure you will find upgrades to your basic self as well as a bunch of new abilities to help you traverse the world. It was developed by a very small team named Team Cherry. The game has received a few updates/DLC which were part of the baseline release here on Xbox One. The price of everything - $15.

That's the simple portion to discuss. For those of you familiar with Metroidvania games, you know what to expect. You'll venture around the map and find countless obstacles that you can't advance past without finding an upgrade. You'll be building a mental map of what you had to skip so when you do finally acquire the proper upgrade, you can return to that area and advance or collect what was locked behind.

Hollow Knight does not hold your hand. While the game starts easy enough, it quickly is willing to destroy you at every turn. Basic enemies start off being minor annoyances, but will eventually be just as dangerous as some of the bosses. Bosses are almost immediately a true danger to you. Each one is about you learning patterns and finding your timing for when to strike. The game also makes sure to give platforming challenges that will push your understanding of mechanics throughout. The game really does shift between these 3 main mechanics:

1) Exploration
2) Combat
3) Platforming

I know this phrase is overused and thus has lost much of it's meaning, but a lot of people talk about Hollow Knight as a "2D Dark Souls" based on the difficulty. In many ways, this isn't too far off. Death in Hollow Knight will leave evidence of where you died. You lose a very important currency for dying. There is an oppressive atmosphere and story where much of the lore is hidden to the play and requires a lot of additional work to find. I get the comparison even if I think it's unnecessary to be brought up all the time just because a game is "hard".

Value!?!?!

Before getting into my own time with the game, I just want to make sure people understand how worthwhile this game is for the price. At $15, I easily got my money's worth already. A common refrain, when it comes to games on the ID@Xbox program at least, people love to make is about whether or not a game can or should charge a particular price. I've understood the value proposition some times and others disagreed. When it comes to Hollow Knight however, the price is really a no-brainer. The amount of content is well worth the price of admission (and this game has been on sale numerous times in the less than a year the game has been available on Xbox One).

So what's my experience with the game (so far) at least?

I've spent over 50 hours playing the game. And all of that is on a single save file. It probably could have been a lot quicker (using the walkthrough here on TA would have likely helped), but I enjoyed the ability to just explore the game and find things as I went. I streamed this game for the whole playthrough really. It was difficult to wait for my normal stream days as each time I stopped, my mind was already planning and considering what I could next.

I became engrossed in the fights and the environments. I found areas I loved to go back to and others that I feared having to go around (looking at you Deepnest angry). As I finished the bulk of the playthrough, I began to research more about the bosses and what I was doing right or wrong. I looked into strategies that I hadn't considered. Why? Because the game had captured me so well. Each boss became a new challenge I just had to overcome. And knowing there are still more things to do keeps me wanting to go back.

Before I continue gushing about the game, I do want to do a short aside about the achievements. While I love the game currently, the fact that this is an achievement site means it's worth some mention.

Achievements? How brutal are they? That completion percentage and high ratio must mean it's hard.

Really, Hollow Knight has a difficult list. Just completing the main story won't really put a sizable dent into the gamerscore available. You'll be able to get a lot of the achievements, but it's the late game content that really starts to reward you there. And what this really comes down to is a few of the more difficult tasks you have:

1) Speedrun
2) Steel Soul - Deathless (although this can be cheesed in a pretty easy way to make this rather trivial)
3) Pantheons

The first two are more about building a baseline ability (I won't say they're easy, just that you can work up to them). They can be mapped and learned in ways that are possible for many players. In reality, it's the Pantheon, or Boss Rush, system that is really the true obstacle of this game. So far, I have completed 4 of the 5 Pantheons. My completion of the 4th Pantheon in particular was hours of practice between the run up to the final boss of it as well the final boss of the pantheon (so many deaths, so sad cry). And I'm still a ways away from the 5th Pantheon - a full run with every boss in the game. Not that I'm complaining, but for completionists this game will be a tough hill to climb.

Gameplay?

The game runs and controls very smoothly. When it comes to platforming, a game lives and dies by how responsive it is. Luckily, this was never an issue for Hollow Knight. Each mistake or death was my own. It was more about me building an understanding and execution. Just watching my own VOD's from streaming, I laugh at how silly some of my early mistakes were and how important it was when I built the skill.

Any complaints?

I don't have any major ones really. The game does it's genre and gaming proud. If you're not a Metroidvania fan or absolutely hate platformers, it might not appeal to you or change your mind about those genres. As always, this genre (metroidvania) is slow. If you don't know where to go or what you're missing, it can be frustrating to wander aimlessly and not unlock new things. Because a lot of progress is locked by bosses, it can also really be demoralizing if you're not able to beat one that blocks a required item. These aren't so much negatives for me as I enjoy the struggle and learning, but others could be turned off by the difficulty.

Conclusion!

Overall, Hollow Knight is a truly amazing experience. I'd recommend not missing out on this. It is clearly one of the best games I've played from the ID@Xbox program and even performs better than much of the AAA scene today. This game clearly has the polish and refinement you'd expect from a major publisher but at a very reasonable price and done by an Indie studio. As a testament to it, when I complete games on my Xbox One, I immediately delete them usually. This game has already got a space on my hard drive that I won't remove ever even once I hit the 100%. It really is that amazing and worth your time.
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