Typically, in the world of gaming, getting lost in a game can either mean something very good, or very bad. The game can be so incredible that you’ll just absorb every pixel before you and feel it surrounding you, or it can be horrible at indicating where you need to go. Team Cherry’s Hollow Knight on the Switch does something unique, in that it makes both versions of getting lost in it true.
The moment you lay foot in the game’s kingdom of Hallownest, you’re not going to know what to do or where to go. Equipped with a sword (called Nail) and the ability to jump…you have all you need to set out. You can explore in any and every direction immediately, but as with any Metroidvania game, any sections that are blocked off are done so until you gain a specific ability. So, technically Hollow Knight kicks off with a fully accessible map…that you don’t have the moves to actually access.
At first, this game feels like you’re running into a brick wall without wearing a helmet. Scattered all over the map are platforming puzzles and hidden bosses that are going to test your patience and ability to learn on the fly. The combat is smooth and incredibly easy to learn, but once you start taking on the bosses you’ll see just how much Hollow Knight wants you to work on your strategy in these fights. You won’t be able to just lumber up and hack away until you kill whatever is in front of you. Attacks will need to be dodged, and you may even need to find space to duck out and heal for a moment.
All of the enemies, including the bosses, are the keys to this game’s two biggest systems. Your unnamed knight requires two things to push on through his challenges : Soul and Geo. Geo is Hallownest’s form of currency, and you can find it almost anywhere. Enemies will drop some on their death, with weaker easier enemies only dropping two or three, and bosses dropping many dozens at a time. You’ll definitely need the Geo to purchase a number of different items that can help you in a lot of ways like learning new abilities or extending your health.
Soul is gained by simply slashing at enemies. Land a hit and you’ll see this white meter start to fill up, and you’ll be happy it does. Soul ties into not one, but two useful thing for you while you play. Your health is represented by five little orbs (to start with, this can be expanded), and at any point if you need to refill any empty ones, you can tap into the Soul and replenish health. It also is your source of power for when you learn (for lack of a better term) magic abilities, sending out devastating attacks that move until they go off screen.
Now, the other unique thing Team Cherry has done with their game, is in respect to the story. Hollow Knight‘s story has already happened, long before you step into the area. This story can be experienced by the people you meet, the areas you visit, and the remnants of the Hallownest that once was. The unique part is that the majority of this story doesn’t need to be experienced. What you learn about Hallownest’s past is purely up to you and how much exploring you want to do.
Hollow Knight won’t be an easy game to pick up. In fact, once you start it you’ll probably spend the first couple of hours just figuring out how to play it more than anything else. You’re thrust right into the action with minimal instructions. The map needs to be fully discovered by yourself, and can’t even be marked until you find a certain character in each zone. Even when you have the map, you still need to purchase an upgrade so you can see where you are on it in real time. The deck seems quite stacked against you, but the more you play, you’ll see just how great the reward is. What Team Cherry has given us is one of the greatest Metroidvania games to grace our systems, and it’s availability on the Switch now makes it even more exciting. Believe me when I say you do not want to miss out on this title.