When a game studio achieves everything it sets out to do and creates an experience that doesnt doesn’t fall short of their vision, can you call it a perfect game? your preferences may vary but recognising uncompromising quality in an product doesn’t take long, and it usually starts with presentation.
Hollow knight’s hand drawn art and animation charms with every opportunity in the ways it interacts with you, it’s crystal clear visuals paint a pretty picture of grim and desolate locales without leaving you in the dark, there is always something pretty it wants to show you . it’s pared-back colour scheme and insectile-Gothic aesthetic makes a striking first impression, the atmosphere is quite unrelenting and fans of this style may find this alone is worth the price of admission.
Music in hollow knight is exceptional and if you’re the type to be tempted by a game soundtrack this may be joining your library. Eerie and ethereal orchestral scores made my play-through far more enjoyable and a stand-out track for the area ‘greenpath’ left me eager to return, the audio work continues to impress from the crunching of insect shells reacting to the strike of your sword (a sharpened nail), to the adorable delighted squeal of the many imprisoned caterpillars upon seeing you approach to their rescue (Hollow Knight’s frankly adorable collectable system) .
The sprawling, cavernous world will rarely stop you from moving forward which made getting utterly lost a breeze Enjoying the game as much as i was, i worried the content would stop flowing, but the Hallownest just kept giving. It will take you some hours to even realise how big the game world is as your maps extends deeper and deeper with each new area discovered. as a player who values a long experiences, this is what i went in search of, although a well crafted experience will stay with you long after you’re returned to the main menu and replay-ability will add what it can, an average 20 hour playtime means you can settle in and let the game suck you in.
This is what you see on the surface, when you venture deeper a remarkably well crafted combat system awaits, this has been labelled by many as difficult but the mark of great design is when the game sets out to .makes. you. better.
Familiar territory for bloodborne/souls fans who understand you need to work for your supper. Yes you will die and yes you will be punished for doing so but the lesson it teaches you is an instant and valuable reward, enemies teach you their attack patterns and offer you a perfectly timed window making for a very satisfying victory. enemies that seem impossible to beat upon a first encounter may scare you away at first, you will soon dance just beyond their attack distance offering swift rebuttals between their attempts to lower your health. and the bosses distil this formula, you’ll die just the right amount of times, endure just enough frustration and survive feeling just powerful enough to see you to your next encounter.
Hollow Knight is my idea of perfect game, for all of it’s intentions and for everything it tried to, it did so better than I’ve seen before. Whether it’s my favourite game is a separate matter and quite irrelevant. This may be the best metroidvania game i know of, existing in it’s own bubble as many ‘perfect’ games do, rarely bettered in their time or after.
Regretfully, Team Cherry announces the cancellation of the physical release for Hollow Knight, a real shame as reaching store shelves is a deserved landmark for a product bettering many well funded titles. But it’s not the end for Hollow knight, it’s kickstarter page still open and taking pledges promising future updates and features.