Release Date: February 24, 2017
Platform Played On: Switch
2018 Placement: Unranked
What It Is:
Hollow Knight is the perfect blend of a Metroidvania and Dark Souls, taking mechanics and inspiration from both but also creating its own thing and not being completely derivative. Its art style is fantastic and unique and all the different people, creatures, and areas are stunning and distinctive. The game takes place in Hallownest, a world of bugs, and gives you a giant map to explore with a unique way of mapping out where you’ve been.
It’s a fantastic game that is mechanically tight and brings out the best of all the genres it dips its toes into. The bosses are fun to fight with just the right amount of challenge (although I’ve heard some of the DLC bosses are quite frustrating but still fun). Each of the other friendly bugs you meet are oozing in personality and character, from Zote the Mighty being a blowhard to the cool Hornet (where is Silksong, please give Team Cherry). Hollow Knight just oozes style from the very beginning and holds its own as one of the best games in the last decade.
Why It’s Important To Me:
This is probably the hardest “why it’s important to me” section I’ve had to write so far because I can’t pinpoint one specific thing that really made me love this game. Instead, it’s a combination of everything it does as a whole that just rocketed it into my favorite games of all-time. There are so many little character moments with the NPCs you meet, so many great boss battles, so many neat areas to explore – and it all comes together so beautifully as a final package that you can’t ignore how great it is.
I’ve somehow bought this game on three systems – I have it on PC and got a cute little Grub plushie with that version. I bought it on Switch immediately and then also got the full game with DLC from PS+ on my PS4 (and where my next playthrough will be.) It’s one of those games that whenever I see somebody else playing it or somebody else talking about it I instantaneously get the itch to play it again. The fact that it enraptures me every time I see it is probably the biggest point in its favor. It’s also the first game where I watched someone play through it in its entirety and still felt compelled to play it all myself.
My Strongest Memory:
There’s two for this one: first is, of course, Deepnest. You would think a world of bugs would be spooky, scary, creepy, and crawly. But it’s not – it’s beautiful and wondrous and not very icky at all. But then you get to Deepnest and all that goes out the window. Especially because for 90% of players you unexpectedly drop into it with no obvious immediate way out. It’s dark, scary, and really pushes the creepy aspect of the bug atmosphere up to eleven. Oh, and the first time a bug crawled over the foreground of my screen I nearly jumped out of my skin. It’s insanely well done.
The second memory is basically the opposite of spooky: I’m talking about the Dung Defender. I’ve never fought a boss that sounded so happy to be fighting you. You can hear his calls as you approach his boss room and he does not sound threatening in the slightest. In fact, the Dung Defender sounds like a guy you want to grab a beer with. He was so enrapturing that I didn’t even want to beat him (and am secretly glad you don’t actually kill him when you win). It’s a boss that puts a smile on my face every time I see his gameplay – it also helps he has grand music playing in the background as you fight. If you want to see him in action, check this video out.
Why It’s #86:
Honestly I could probably make an argument with myself that Hollow Knight could be a lot higher than #86. There isn’t anything wrong with it in my opinion. Usually there’s a flaw of some sort I could pinpoint as to why I have it lower in my list. We’re starting to get into the games that I only have effusive praise for (yes, at #86 it’s already glowing recommendations, just you wait for the higher ones) so let’s just say Hollow Knight would probably be higher if I’d played it recently.