With Metroid Prime 4 yet to break cover there is still a gap in the market for Metroidvania games for fans of the series. We’ve recently had compelling new games to whet our appetite which both promise to fill that Metroid hole in our lives. One was Dead Cells (which we reviewed a few weeks back) the other is Hollow Knight. Find out if it quenched our thirst for dungeon crawling action…
The game begins with the protagonist travelling to the ancient kingdom of Hallownest. Once mighty but now ruined and infested with insects who our hero must bash, squish and generally eradicate on his quest for adventure. The art style is beautifully noir in all it’s 2D glory and paints an intricate picture of a crumbling kingdom built beneath the earth. Even our hero knight is a painstakingly crafted glowing helm wrapped in dirty rags. The simple pop art style here works tremendously.
Gameplay is nothing revolutionary, there are ‘geos’ to collect from fallen enemies which can be used to purchase items to ease your passage through the kingdom. We also have a health bar which replenished with the souls of bested foes, making the action fast and tense. We also have a range of charms available which change your abilities depending on the situation and help you overcome the hurdles the game throws at you. All this adds up to create a game which rewards persistence and draws you deeper and deeper.
My initial game time did offer a steep learning curve and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my doubts in the early game. The action begins with little backstory of explanation. The game encourages you to learn through trial and error rather than any tutorial system, something which I found deeply frustrating in the beginning.
However, I’m pleased to report that the amount of depth makes up for that brutal beginning. The fact that this game has been out on PC for some time means there is a level of polish which really draws you in. There is plenty of lore for those wanting a rich backstory, and the range of different environments is truly staggering. You wouldn’t imagine there to be much variety in hollowed out tunnels but Team Cherry, the Australian developer, has managed to make luscious jungles seem just another part of the journey.
The arrival of this game on Nintendo Switch so closely following Dead Cells means there will always be comparisons between the two. For my money they are quite different propositions. Dead Cells focuses on an addictive action gameplay with minimal background but plenty of upgradeable weapons to do better on your next run.
Meanwhile, Hollow Knight spends more time painting a beautiful, if dark, picture of a ruined kingdom for you to explore. Stumbling upon the gothic style remnants such as eerie lampposts can be a joy to behold. The action is less fast paced too. Rhythm is a far more important quality here with the jumping mechanic taking some getting used to.
When it comes to this game it’s important to bear in mind that this is an indie game and comes with a price tag to match. It can’t be compared to games at £50 RRP. Saying that Hollow Knight still provides hours of enjoyable gameplay and I can see myself continuing this journey for many hours more and possibly even a second play through to explore every last bit of lore. This game won’t be for everyone, but it certainly provides plenty to those who buy into the rich history and beautiful gothic art style that make this game worthy of your attention.
Author: Robert, Brighton store