Hollow Knight... This is a game that hit a lot of different notes for me. Most of the platformers I have played can be beaten within a week, and many within a day's worth of hours. It took me more than a month to beat Hollow Knight. Some of my peers were able to make quick work of the game, but I found it to be a challenge on a completely different level of difficulty than other titles I have played.
From the outset of the adventure you have to take time to learn each boss and mini-boss battle through pure memorization. I would say that the most frustrating aspect of Hollow Knight is the long walks from the save point to the boss. While some were definitely more irritating than others they were all pretty far.
One such encounter inspired me to quit playing the game altogether. It turns out that quitting for a time was one of the best things that I could have done. I surprised myself because I fell so in love with the world, characters and atmosphere of the game I just couldn't stand not playing.
After taking a break for a couple of weeks I was able to come back and really push through the things that held me back before. It was from there that I was really able to become properly infatuated with the game, and that ultimately lead to beating it properly, and joining the Hollow Knight community.
This review has been a little bit more candid than usual perhaps so let's get down to the nitty gritty. This game is definitely a masterpiece. It was very carefully constructed, and as such it does something that a lot of modern games do not. It tells a lot of it's story non-verbally, or with minimal narration.
That being said the storyline is a little bit convoluted so there is a lot of room for personal and creative interpretation. in some situations this can be a bad thing and lead to misunderstandings about the authors intent. However, in Hollow Knight I think it's that way to allow for more freedom. I doesn't hurt the game at all, and just adds to the player's curiosity.
Let's get into my favorite part of any game... the soundtrack. The soundtrack of Hollow Knight is very cinematic and dramatic. It captures each area and each moment in a powerful way. The songs are manipulated by your situation. Are you in battle, are you in a slightly different zone, are you headed into danger, are you headed into a safe zone? Each part of Hollownest has one song that changes in different ways to reflect the player's current situation. There are other games that do this, but I feel like Hollow Knight definitely uses this musical technology in a grand way.
The artwork is really lovely. I'm a huge fan of hand-painted backgrounds already so the multiple layers are definitely a winner in my book. This is exactly the sort of game I've been looking for to keep up the lush environments of Ori and the Blind Forest. Each area is beautifully crafted, and believable. In both the environment and the music things can go dark and simple and this builds a real experience of tension and apprehension I haven't seen in a lot of games that aren't horror games, strictly speaking.
All in all I would say that this is a pretty family friendly game. It's a little violent, but nothing that I would consider emotionally scarring. It can be really really creepy so I would recommend it to those aged 10 and up just to be safe. It's a wonderfully interesting world to explore and provides hours upon hours of gameplay. Just when you think you've discovered everything there is always more to find hidden behind walls and under brush.
I hope that you are able to fall in love with this game like I have. There is a wonderful community surrounding the game. So even after the final boss has been defeated there is always new art, stories, and challenges to pursue within the Hollow Knight Fandom.
This moment was a highlight of the game for me: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/166943069