Hollow Knight is nothing short of a master Metroidvania, that is nothing new. It also isn’t surprising that it belongs on the Nintendo Switch. The console provides players the ability to visit Hollownest regardless of where they are or what they’re doing and the little nuances added to the Switch version give the game an additional layer of immersion you can’t get in the PC version.
The vibrations from your actions resonate through the JoyCons and perfectly match the actions you’re performing. Whether you’re slashing your way through enemies, unlocking a door, or gaining a new ability the JoyCon rumble adds a layer of depth that isn’t necessary but most welcome.
You assume the role of an insignificant bug knight that must take on a quest bigger than himself in an effort to save the few remaining bugs of Hollownest. The sprawling, subterranean metropolis is home to numerous unique locations and over a hundred different enemies. Like Dark Souls, Hollow Knight gives you snippets of the story at a vaguely slow pace. The inhabitants of Hollownest have moved (or fled) underground, lured there by an unearthly aura and most have been driven mad. Like all great Metroidvania’s before it, you must dive deep underground, fight your way through an endless amount of enemies, acquire new abilities, and take on lumbering bosses in an attempt to save the last remaining inhabitants of the Kingdom.
While Hollow Knight and NPC’s might look adorable, the overarching story is actually a rather melancholic, serious one. Each area offers some semblance of what happened before you arrived through wonderful, yet subtle, environmental storytelling. This is where the art truly shines through. While this is a 2D side-scroller, the number of layers and incredible attention to detail add a depth to this 2D world that makes it feel like a sprawling 3D labyrinth. Not to mention it runs incredibly well in both docked and handheld versions adding to the fluidity of the game.
The care taken to port this title to the Switch shines through in how crisp and tight the gameplay feels. The only lag I experienced in my 50 hours with the game was when I need to attack downward while in the air. Sometimes the response was too late and I would end up taking damage or having to try my attack again. Aside from that, the controls are fluid and natural, making this title feel right at home.
The soundtrack and sound effects are on point as well. Every slice with your nail sounds damaging, and things like the crunch of the ground under your feet add yet another level of depth that Team Cherry didn’t HAVE to do, but did anyway. Again, the attention to detail here is what truly separates this game from others that have come before it.
Now that that is out of the way, we move on to the newest, and most intense DLC Team Cherry has dropped for Hollow Knight yet. This is the final FREE DLC for the game, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be the last. Hollow Knight‘s GodMaster is the final chapter in our Knight’s story and sees him taking on the Gods of Hollownest. Put simply, GodMaster is a gigantic boss rush add-on that not only lets you go toe to toe with every boss in the game (conveniently placed all in one area), but it also adds 7 new bosses, new side quests, romance options, and NPC’s!
The downside to this DLC is that you can truly only experience it after killing every boss in the game. Some might have an issue with this considering some bosses are hard to find, some might be too hard to take down, or both. This DLC is really a reward for the fans that have done and seen everything in Hollownest, it expects you to use everything the game and the past DLCs have taught you and put everything on the line.
The new area, Godhome, is where you’ll be spending 90% of your time. It is host to 5 Pantheons. Each Pantheon has a group of bosses that you must run through back to back in order to complete them. Every Pantheon can be manipulated using “bindings” (restrictions) which add an extra layer to the challenge. The four bindings affect your nail, overall health, turns off your charms and limits your soul capacity to one use. You can go into a Pantheon with as many of these turned on as you like. Completing each Pantheon with each binding unlocks a secret area with a juicy item as a reward for your suffering and frustration.
The final Pantheon pits you against every boss from the game, pretty much in order of their difficulty. Every 4-5 bosses let you rest at a bench and fill your soul, but dying means having to start each Pantheon all over again, regardless of how many benches you rested at. It can get brutal real fast, but it is one of the most enjoyable, rewarding DLC’s Hollow Knight has to offer. On top of that, for players that want a more casual experience, there is an area below the Pantheons that lets you choose whatever boss you want and fight them as many times as you want. Practice makes perfect after all.
Godmaster is the penultimate experience for any and every fan of Hollow Knight. It rewards the players that step up to the challenge and leaves you with a sense of accomplishment few other games can offer. While it is mainly just a gigantic boss rush mode, there is absolutely nothing wrong about that, considering Hollow Knight has some of the greatest boss battles I’ve seen in a Metroidvania game. The new bosses offer some great new challenges and the new quests and NPC’s are just as enjoyable. Sop, grab a stress ball and get ready to face the greatest challenge Hollow Knight has to offer, you won’t be disappointed.