Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania video game developed and published by Australian studio Team Cherry. The game was released for Microsoft Windows in February 2017, and later for macOS,Linux, IOS and Android in April 2017 and Nintendo Switch in June 2018. Development was partially funded through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, raising over A$57,000 by the end of 2014.
The game tells the story of a knight on a quest to uncover the secrets of the long-abandoned insect kingdom of Hallownest, whose depths draw in the adventurous and brave with promises of treasures and answers to ancient mysteries.
Hollow Knight is a 2D, Metroidvania action-adventure game, which takes place in Hallownest, a fictional ancient kingdom. The player controls an insect-like, silent, and nameless knight while exploring the underground world. The knight wields a nail, which is a cone-shaped sword, used both in combat and environmental interaction.
In most areas of the game the player encounters hostile bugs and other sorts of creatures. Combat involves using the nail to strike enemies from a short distance. The player can also use spells, allowing for long-range attacks. Defeated enemies drop currency called Geo. The knight starts with a limited number of mask shards, which represent hit points of the character. More mask shards can be collected throughout the game to increase the player’s health. When the knight takes damage from an enemy or from the environment, a mask is destroyed. By striking enemies, the knight gains Soul, which is stored in the Soul Vessel. If all masks are lost, the knight dies and a Shade appears at that place. The player needs to defeat the Shade to recover the lost currency and to carry normal amount of Soul. The game continues from a last visited bench—they are scattered throughout the game world and they act as save points—but the player loses all Geo and can hold a smaller amount of Soul. Initially the player can only use Soul to “Focus” and regenerate mask shards, but as the game progresses the player unlocks several offensive spells, which consume Soul.
Many areas feature more challenging enemies (bosses) which the player may or may not need to defeat in order to progress further. Defeating some bosses grants the player new abilities. Later in the game, the player acquires a dream nail. It enables the player to face more challenging versions of some bosses.
During the game, the player encounters non-player characters, with whom they can interact. These characters provide information about the game’s plot or lore, offer aid, and sell items or services. The player can upgrade the knight’s nail to deal more damage or find soul vessels to carry more Soul. During the course of the game, the player acquires items that provide new movement abilities. They include an additional jump mid-air (Monarch Wings), adhering to walls and jumping off them (Mantis Claw), and a quick dash (Mothwing Cloak). The player can also acquire other combat abilities, known as nail arts, and the aforementioned spells. To further customise the knight, the player can equip various Charms, which can be found or bought. Some of their effects include: improved combat abilities or spells, more masks or their regeneration, better movement skills, easier collecting of currency or of Soul, transformation. Equipping Charms takes up limited slots, called notches. Wearing more Charms than notches is possible, but it causes the knight to receive twice as much damage.
Hallownest consists of several large, inter-connected areas with unique themes. Although Hollow Knight does not bind the player to one path through the game nor require to explore the whole world, there are obstacles that limit the player’s access to an area. The player may need to progress in the story of the game, or acquire a specific movement ability, a magic skill or an item to progress further. To fast travel through the game’s world, the player can utilise Stag Stations, terminals of a network of tunnels; the player can only travel to previously visited and unlocked stations.
As the player enters a new area, they do not have access to the map of the surroundings. They need to find Cornifer, the Cartographer, in order to buy a rough map. As the player explores an area, the map becomes more accurate and complete, although it is updated only when sitting on a bench. The player will need to buy specific items to complete maps, to see points of interest, and to place markers. The knight’s position on the map can only be seen if the player is carrying a specific Charm.
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