Hollow Knight - convince me to keep playing


#1

People seem to really love Hollow Knight. I can kind of see why, it is very pretty and atmospheric.

But four hours in, I’m finding it very hard to keep on playing. It’s like the game is working really hard to push me away.

For one, I strongly dislike the jump. It takes incredibly long to actually register the press; I’ve fallen off ledges dozens of times while doing routine running jumps. For another, the game revels in all kinds of hostile bullshit. Press the heal button for 0.95s instead of 1s? Congratulations, you’ve spent the mana but have not been healed. Fighting a boss? Excellent; there won’t be a health bar, nor any other indication that the boss is taking damage. Have fun figuring out if you’re even doing the right thing in the fight!

“Oh, I bet you’re going to be finding all kinds of wonderful equipment down there” an NPC says during the opening sequence. In four hours of playing the only special abilities of note I’ve found are the ability to draw maps and a shitty attack spell. No new traversal options. No new weapons. Any items I’ve found are useless junk (“hey, here’s a thing that’d fit right into an open slot” an item description says; that’s great, I just saw a door with a “there’s an open slot here, that you should insert something into” description. Bet this opens a new area, yay! Hah, no. Just some developers trolling, despite the matching descriptions the two have nothing to do with each other.)

The shopkeeper has a lamp for sale. That’s exciting. No, seriously, there’s some dark rooms so having a lamp might open up the game a bit. Maybe there’s even a fucking double jump hidden in one of those rooms? Except it’d take a few hours of grinding to afford the lamp, so I refuse to believe that’s the intended path.

There isn’t really any story to talk about yet, and the lore that you get for inspecting the statues is just dreadful. I like the characters, but with 2-3 lines of dialogue each, they’re not exactly deep…

So… Is there any reason for me to keep playing?

I think I’ve done all of Greenpath except the dark areas, bits that require some kind of improved jump to access, and the boss battle against the lady with the needle. Am I entirely in the wrong area? Or just missing something? If this is the intended path, is the game going to get better real soon now? Am I on the verge of getting better traversal options, or a weapon with a useful hitbox? Is there actually something worthwhile here, or is the fandom around this game really just about the Soulsy "obfuscate everything, explain nothing, " aspects?


#2

I’ve always felt that when you are playing a game (any game) and you get to the point where you need convincing to keep playing, it’s time to retire the game and move on.


#3

Based on the few negative responses I’ve seen for Hollow Knight, I’m pretty sure this is one of those games where most people fall into the right experience and never see the same frustrations as the people who dislike it.

I’m not really sure how to approach your post. I’m both nodding and shrugging at the same time. You haven’t even experienced the backtracking, which is probably the worst part if you’re a completionist. I think Souls nerdom is kind of dumb and I really liked this game, so it’s not that either.

Quick tip for one critical obscured mechanic that throws people off: if you’re in the Fungal Wastes, which should be the next area based on a waklthrough I just checked, you can press the jump button on the bouncy mushrooms to leap high in the air.

The dash should be soonish. You will always have that weapon, but you can modify the properties eventually for reach and speed.

On a related note, why are people so cranky about traversal in these games? I remember someone complaining about Cave Story – Cave Story! – because he hadn’t found any new traversal options quite yet. Are we all spoiled by Just Cause 2 or something? Give it some time!


#4

cough cough :-P A good Metroidvania is all about fluid movement through the levels. If the standard movement options feel good, it’s not too big a deal if the game takes its time with upgrades. But they’re infuriating, maybe another option would work better?

It’s interesting though, I hadn’t really thought about how well Hollow Knight maps to how I felt about Cave Story.

Hmm… Usually this’d be time-wise a quarter or a third of the way through one of these games! Four hours into Ori you have the wall-jump, double jump and bash for movement. In Outland you’d have the slide, wall-jump and color shifting. (With the bash/color shifting being the respective McGuffins those games were built around). So yeah, this does feel incredibly stingy!

Anyway, thanks. If there’s a dash (air dash, I assume?) right around the corner, it’s probably worth getting at least to that point.


#5

Oh there we go. For some reason I thought it was Nightgaunt. Obviously he was helping me defend it.

I had never heard of Outland. It looks neat, but I don’t have time to play it.


#6

I tried this too based on the rave reviews, and all these 2d platformers are tired as hell. Yay, jump on a platform for the zillionth time since 1982. 😴

The only one I’ve even liked in recent memory is Mark of the Ninja.


#7

I can never get into them ever, no matter how great the reviews are. Apparently Spelunky is a brilliant game but I don’t think I will ever be able to figure out why.

Except Mark of the Ninja, for some reason that game hooked me. Oh and Braid I suppose for its originality and puzzle aspects.


#8

Umm… yeah, platformers are dumb, but in this one you get to attack lots of stuff. And Mark of the Ninja is a stealth game.

[backs away slowly]


#9

Paging @Nightgaunt. His praise of Hollow Knight is what made me add it to my wishlist.


#10

One of the reasons I see the Internet praise the game is the large quantity of content. Most gamers are on a tight budget and still care about hours per dollar, and they still expect indie game developers to give them memorable 40 hour experiences for peanuts, so this game really pushed the right buttons for them. It’s the most common praise I’ve seen.

I will say this was a borderline 3 star / 4 star game for me. The generally pleasant experience was enough to bump it up. But I can’t really evangelize for it either like some games that have a special place in my heart.


#11

Uh oh! Called out!

I find the platforming in Hollow Knight to be well done (no issues with unresponsiveness here–no worse than I had with frustrating sequences in Ori). What I personally usually end up disliking in these kinds of games is the combat element. If it’s a drag to cross back through certain areas because it’s choked with trivial enemies, that’s really irritating. I don’t have that problem often in Hollow Knight (there are some exceptions).

I don’t love the Souls-y death system much. Once or twice I’ve been screwed by it. I will say it’s made for some dramatic moments along the way, but I’d rather have a standard save system.

The progression is fairly slow, especially slow to start. Partly this is because there’s SO much to explore. The game is bigger than you might guess early on. Yes, there’s a double jump, wall-climb, etc. coming. I will agree the spells are a little lame and (for my playstyle) a little useless. I actually appreciate the fact that they don’t have 8 million weapons to switch between and upgrade. It’s a long while before you make your nail more powerful, but it’s a cool discovery. The main avenue for upgrades are charms, which you’ll start to rack up pretty quickly, especially if you’re exploring a lot.

I absolutely adore how the game tells its story–or, really, conveys its world. It’s very tonal, mysterious, impressionistic. It’s not like I’m enraptured by some plot twist that’s going to tell me how the city fell or what happened to king or queen so-and-so. Those elements are there, but they’re more just brushstrokes that combine into a really evocative, expressive picture. It’s a world of remnants… husks left behind, sometimes with some mockery of life within them–that’s true of the monsters, but also the city itself. The NPCs are simple but I find them charming. I appreciate that there’s not a ton of dialogue to read.

The amount of art they made for this game and the quality continually blows me away, too.

The game this feels like to me is Dust: An Elysian Tale, in that the combat is empowering, not tedious, and the places are fun to explore and look amazing.

@Rock8man – I specifically mentioned how it’s not too hard, and I will say that now that I’m getting to the final stages of the game, that’s less the case. I think some of the more difficult places I’m finding are expansion content, but they don’t really cordon those areas off from the main game as it was first released, so it feels like one big game. Pretty sure I could be wrapping up the main quest line at this point, but I keep wanting to fully explore all the locations I’ve uncovered first.

Right now, I think this is the gold standard for action platformers. Ori was incredibly beautiful, but also incredibly unforgiving. Axiom Verge was more combat focused. I found Owlboy slow and uninteresting. Hollow Knight just constantly leaves me in awe.


#12

One day, we’ll have a Souls game that explores a world about to give birth to exciting new things in the future.

Dust is a bad comparison. It’s so loaded with combat that I became annoyed within hours. The combat system here is even more simplistic, but never wore out its welcome due to better pacing with other things to do.


#13

Can difficulty levels adjust some of this down, or is some of it pure “control hardness” (e.g., difficult platform sections that are more contingent on raw physical skill than the number of HPs an enemy has for you to chew through)?

I’ve started to realize that I suck shit at videogames and if I ever hope to play one to completion again, it needs to be something that can be tweaked down to babytown races levels of simplicity.

AKA, as cool as Sunless Seas’ world/plot/themes seem to be, I’ll never play it, cuz I don’t have the patience to die 10,000 times to uncover all that shit. Hell, same with the Souls games, come to think of it.


#14

There are no difficulty levels here. There is one challenging platforming area required for the true ending. I hate platforming but I didn’t find it too frustrating. Maybe a couple minutes at most on the tricky parts.

Boss fights stayed consistent for me too but YMMV.


#15

Yeah, I don’t think the boss fights I’ve seen so far are unreasonable, except for the issue with there being no feedback. Certainly nothing that’ll require a hundred retries, like some of the escape sequences in Ori.


#16

Seems this is the best Platformer of the year?


#17

Sunk an hour into this tonight and it already is showing signs of being one of my favorite games of the year. Opened up the first Stag Station , they really have created a special / creepy world here. And the background music is fantastic. I’ve found the platforming to be ok so far, once you figure out the jump mechanic.


#18

It’s one of my favorites of 2017! The music and atmosphere is top notch. I still can’t believe it was made by such a small team.

Just for those popping into the thread, it’s received a decent discount on Steam, and it’s well worth checking out. :)


#19

Hit the green area, wish fast travel was a bit more prominent as I walked all the way back to town from here to buy some gear.


#20

Yeah for a sequel I would love to see a Dark Souls 2 style ease-of-use enhancement by letting you warp to and from any bench.