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Thread: Hollow Knight

  1. #126
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Has anyone here managed to make the PC version work with an ultra-wide screen? I've tried the suggested fix on WSGF and it let me choose 3440x1440, but the sides of the screen were just black bars.

  2. #127
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    So, I've been playing Hollow Knight on and off for the last few months and I think I'm now pretty much close to being done with it. I have only the last colosseum trial, the Godhome fights, a few dream variants of bosses, and whatever there is waiting in the Black Egg Temple left to do. Before anything else, I have to say that there's a lot to like about the game. The art style and music are great and there are lots of neat little things I appreciated, like the lamp posts being shaped like snails or having the first boss be guarded by a mini version of that boss. I like it when there's attention to detail like that in a game. It's clearly a labour of love and looks and plays very well as a result.

    However, for me the game still managed to wear out its welcome by the end. It has all these neat little scenes and there's all this effort put in to make the areas distinct and memorable and varied, but I felt it lacked some very basic structure to build up tension and to sustain interest, either through basic gameplay or storytelling. Let's take two games it has clearly taken a lot of inspiration from -- Dark Souls and Super Metroid -- as a baseline comparison. Obviously, spoilers will follow...

    First, let's look at how Super Metroid begins. Right off the bat you get blaring sirens (like something out of the Alien trailer) and images of dead scientists lying around the titular metroid. Then there's some brief narration to recap where the series left off and the new one starts. Then you get an interactive cutscene where some tense exploration culminates in a boss fight with a space dragon. Finally, there's the frantic escape while everything is being destroyed around you. Only after all that does the game set you down on Zebes and the game proper starts. By that time you are pretty likely to be invested in that character and you have a strong idea who you are and what you are here to do.





    Now Dark Souls. The very first thing you do is customise your character, already investing yourself in the game to a degree. Then you get an action-packed trailer of what's essentially the creation myth and Titanomachy rolled in one and your character is introduced into the setting. Then you get a tutorial area where you escape a huge-ass demon (or a huge ass-demon, depending on which way you look at it), get handed the torch to discover the fate of the undead, kick the aforementioned demon's ass and get carried off to your adventure by a giant crow. If nothing else, that's a hell of a memorable experience.



    Okay, so how does Hollow Knight do in comparison? First you get to read an elegy that laments what a wonderful place this had been, then you get a few confusing images with chains and masks and eyes lighting up, and next your character is shown standing in a night-lit street and looking at a set of lights leading to a small collection of homes. Then the tutorial starts where you find some texts with something of an Ozymandias vibe and you finally arrive in a small village after breaking a big crumbling door.



    If you have dealt with storytelling to any degree, then you're undoubtedly familiar with the following graph (or with the bigger version that outlines the first Star Wars movie):



    This is the basic three act dramatic structure that Hollywood blockbusters are so fond of and the beginnings of both Super Metroid and Dark Souls map well to this. Not just by starting the game with a bang, but the openings themselves are like mini versions of this arc. First you have the big attention grabbing start (dead scientists / war of the gods), then the low point (Samus narrates / you're rotting away in the asylum), then you have some complications that up the tension (distress signal, Samus investigates, baby metroid is missing / you escape your cell, boss encounter, enemies to fight) then you have the big finale (Ridley fight and self-destruct sequence / Asylum Demon fight), and, finally, the resolution (Samus goes to Zebes / you take the Crow Express to Firelink). Whatever you say about the formula, it is an excellent time-tested hook and it works well. And here it also sets up the world, your character, and the expectation that you're about to embark on an adventure.

    Hollow Knight, I'd argue, fails in this. You get a little abstract exposition in text form ("Wasn't it nice to have culture and civilisation?"), then images that only make sense once you've played the game, then tutorial caves with easy enemies and some more abstract exposition ("Look upon my works, ye mighty!"), and voilą, you've arrived without much difficulty. All thee games use a mix of narration, visual imagery, and interactivity in their opening section, but Hollow Knight feels more like a tone poem to the effect that you're being told to feel sad, being told to feel awe, instead of you yourself being made to feel anything of the sort. Where are the memorable lines ("Even now, there are only embers, and man sees not light, but endless nights... This is your fate.") or images or sequences? How many people even remember there being a poem at the start, let alone lines from that poem? What does it tell you about your character or what kind of adventure is awaiting?

    Of course, not all games need a hook -- niche games like La-Mulana can be as retro and obtuse as they want, but that's not where Hollow Knight's ambitions lie. And as far as opening lines go, I'd actually say La-Mulana is has the more memorable ones, though of course it's largely a matter of preference.




    So, then, it comes down to the gameplay, and to be sure, an addictive enough of a game loop is enough to carry a game all by itself, as my thousands of hours of BoI can attest to. I don't have many complaints with the combat itself -- it's fast and responsive and the enemies are varied enough to keep things interesting. If anything, I'd say the enemies are just a bit too easy to exploit, as most of them become nearly defenceless when attacked from below or above or are otherwise easily baited, but then again I've heard that this is considered to be a very difficult game and I watched a couple of playthroughs where people (Northerlion, Wanderbots) seemed to struggle a lot with the basic enemies, so I might not be the best judge of this. As far as I'm concerned, the game was a bit on the easy side most of the time, especially with certain charms -- for example, Mark of Pride makes your reach so big that you're able to hit a lot of enemies with impunity and little fear of reprisal, Quick Slash effectively doubles your damage output, and Quick Focus lets you heal in nearly every fight (and if you pick the right charms, you can pretty much stand in a boss and heal). My overall impression of the charms, though, is that they are horribly imbalanced and the system seems to be more suited for a roguelike game where you get them in random order each time.

    Despite the combat being fine, overall, at midgame things started to really fall apart (about 20 to 40 hours in). I think it's just too basic to carry the game for so many hours. Metroid gets away with it, since the game lasts only a fraction of that time. Dark Souls gets away with it, because it generally has slow, tactical, high stakes combat where you can't afford to make many mistakes, which also helps to make the exploration a tense affair where dangers lurk behind every corner. In Hollow Knight, by the time you're fully upgraded, the vast majority of enemies take only 1-2 hits and a lot of the bosses can simply be rushed down (the only one who has given me any significant amount of trouble so far has been the Traitor Lord, and that was mostly because he does 2 damage and therefore isn't easily tanked). At the same time, you yourself can take multiple hits and heal pretty much endlessly, since you gain soul very easily in combat. Just imagine if every time you hit an enemy or a boss in Dark Souls you got a part of and Estus flask back -- it would be a completely different game.

    It's probably for the aforementioned reasons the game starts to focus more on endurance than difficulty at the end, suddenly trying to wear you down with long waves of enemies (Colosseum, Godhome) and Meat Boy style platforming sections (path to Nailmaster Sheo, White Palace), despite the game not really having prepared you for such challenges. The game doesn't really even teach you nail-jumping, letting players figure it out by accident (or by analogy with similar games, perhaps). There is one room where it's kind of hinted you can pogo on spikes, but nothing to the degree of Super Metroid that has NPCs show you how to wall jump.

    That leads us to exploration. Again, I don't have too many complaints. It's fine, mostly. The level design is deliberately kept open, especially in contrast with the highly linear and guided Super Metroid (sure, you can sequence-break, but there is a definite sequence that the game expects you to follow and is designed around). In Hollow Knight, you are mostly gated by the upgrades you get (vengeful spirit to get to Greenpath, mantis claw to get to City of Tears, etc) and that leaves it up to you to explore as you see fit. It's not even gated by difficulty, really. You can survive places like Deepnest just fine even without an upgraded nail, especially if you approach it like Dark Souls and don't take unnecessary risks. So that means you are going to explore the same places over and over again, coming back for the things you are able to reach with new upgrades, and at least for me it became a bit tiresome. That also means that if you're not disciplined enough to explore methodically and take notes, the chances are you're going to have a pretty miserable time trying to remember where exactly you saw that rumbling floor or what you are supposed to do with that Magic the Gathering logo that you just picked up. I think I would have preferred if the whole game would have been a more focused and less meandering experience and they could have ramped the difficulty up more gradually instead of it being kind of samey the whole game with a few sudden spikes here and there.

    Anyway, that concludes my little rambling rant. There are a few more nitpicks, like the game not telling you that you can converse with shopkeepers, depending on which side of them you stand, but they are more like minor blemishes than real flaws. All things considered, I did like the game, or at least I don't feel like I wasted my time, it's just that it seemed to fall short of what it wanted to be. There were many neat individual moments, but it failed to build things up properly and at the end it just petered out -- sadly that's my takeaway from it.
    Last edited by Starker; 30th Jun 2020 at 23:03.

  3. #128
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    ...the game not telling you that you can converse with shopkeepers, depending on which side of them you stand...
    Wait, WHAT? Lol.

    I'm a bit further back, having unlocked most of the maps. I'm having a bit more trouble with the bosses, honestly. The vast majority of the basic enemies are just fodder, little more than opportunities to collect mana (called soul). (The crystal shooting flyers can eff off and die in a fire, though.)

    The amount of story I've gotten so far is kind of pathetic. I still have no idea why I'm doing any of this. I mean, I do, but only because I read some of the wiki.

    As charming as many of the locations are, all the backtracking and running through the same areas has gotten really old. And I hate the distance from the chairs and the more difficult challenges. I think if a game has super meatboy style platforming, it should have similarly convenient respawns.

    Really, I'd've ragequit long ago if my kids didn't ask to watch, lol.

  4. #129
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I'm really sorry you guys aren't enjoying Hollow Knight, because it's very much my favourite Metroidvania game and quite possibly my favourite Soulslike (at least in terms of what it does similarly to the Soulsborne games). I love the game's tone and atmosphere, but I also love the skill progression (though I know it's quite standard for the genre), the difficulty curve, the different areas of the game. While it tells a similar story about cycles of corruption and decay as the Dark Souls games, it resonated more with me - I came to care more towards this world and the characters inhabiting it than I ever did with any Dark Souls game. I love how the whimsy and the darkness come together to create a world I care about.I love how the world fits together and how things that seem merely atmospheric later make perfect sense based on the layout. I love how this world made up of cartoony bugs can feel dark and scary and sad and funny. I love how the penultimate bossfight (the Hollow Knight) changes its tone so effectively, making an insect monstrosity downright tragic. I love how many of them practically have a sense of personality, not least in how they interact with each other in weird and wonderful ways.

    Yeah, I think you might say that I like Hollow Knight a fair bit.

  5. #130
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Pyrian View Post
    I'm a bit further back, having unlocked most of the maps. I'm having a bit more trouble with the bosses, honestly. The vast majority of the basic enemies are just fodder, little more than opportunities to collect mana (called soul). (The crystal shooting flyers can eff off and die in a fire, though.)
    You can actually swing back projectiles like that at the enemies (at least ones that aren't of the exploding type) if you manage to hit it in the air. Like the pickaxes the miners throw and whatnot. Also, it might be a good idea to take down all those annoying flyers (primal aspids, mantis petras and the wizard guys and whatnot) with Great Slash of Dash Slash before they can even start to do anything.

    As charming as many of the locations are, all the backtracking and running through the same areas has gotten really old. And I hate the distance from the chairs and the more difficult challenges. I think if a game has super meatboy style platforming, it should have similarly convenient respawns.
    Yeah, if you just want to sit down and play without taking notes, it can get confusing fast due to the vast open world. As for the bench distance, later you'll get a teleport skill that helps with that.

  6. #131
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    This effing game. I got sick of Deepnest and wandered off on the tram, exploring as much as I could of the Ancient Basin and Kingdom's Edge (I couldn't really get into The Hive proper). Got the dash nail art and the swift nail charm.

    So I decided to make my way into the opposite side of the City of Tears, walking clear across Kingdom's Edge and eventually arriving at King's Station, which has a bench and stag bell but they're broken. And then on the left side of that... I died. (HOW much damage does that thing do per hit?) Respawning waaaay back at the very edge of Kingdom's Edge. Because there's no effing benches anywhere on the way. Now I have to make the whole journey again just to get my shade if nothing else. Orrr I could use the vendor that could retrieve my shade buuut there's no working stag station anywhere nearby so I'd have to go all the way through Deepnest to Queen's Station.

    FFS.

    It's BORING to redo such huge swaths of relatively easy territory to redo a fight.

  7. #132
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Yeah, those guys are a pain to the point I usually just avoid and bypass them altogether. They have a ton of hit points and are also one of the few enemies that effectively defend against pogoing and you can't really attack them out of their range. They way I deal with them is to jump over them and hit the shield they hold up with a downwards strike to bait out an attack, then quickly hit them in the back a couple of times as they are in the middle of the swing. Rinse and repeat.

  8. #133
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I mostly died because I didn't notice they were doing two damage per hit, lol.

  9. #134
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Hollow Knight is awesome. Anyone who claims otherwise is a giant nerd.

  10. #135
    Administrator
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    This has been my go-to game during isolation. I played it ages ago on PC and got right through to the final boss which was a little too tough for me but I didn't feel disappointed as I enjoyed it immensely. Not something that I've really returned too much but I knew there had been quite a number of additions since the first release.

    Recently bought it on the switch to enjoy while working from home while in (relative) lockdown. It's good for my mental well-being to be able to step away from the computer and relax on a couch when you're at the same desk for most of the day. Most of the game is the same but wow, they've toughened up a couple of fights. The Traitor Lord in particular caused me a lot of pain whereas I don't even really remember the fight when I played it on PC first time around. I'm also not quite as comfortable with the switch pro controller as with the xbox controller I used for some areas - bouncing on garpedes to get that fragment is something I'll have to go back to now I've performed some tape surgery on the controller to resolve the d-pad's tendency to give false inputs. Overall, though, it's still a fantastic game and I'm looking forward to the Silksong sequel / prequel when it comes out.

  11. #136
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Al_B View Post
    bouncing on garpedes to get that fragment
    That section has been kicking my ass, too. It's like I can jump and bounce OR jump and dash OR bounce and dash but I just can't seem to bounce/dash/jump/repeat.

  12. #137
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    That bit took me a few goes, but I got through it in the end. It was there that I discovered that you could bounce off spikes if you attacked downward at the right time. I got there and thought of Shovel Knight and wondered if you could do that in Hollow Knight. Was great discovering that on my end through natural experimentation.

  13. #138
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Al_B View Post
    The Traitor Lord in particular caused me a lot of pain whereas I don't even really remember the fight when I played it on PC first time around.
    Yeah, this is one boss that has been genuinely difficult for me so far. It must have taken me over a dozen tries, but once I got used to the patterns to be able survive a bit longer and make a better use of the shade cloak, I managed to rush him down with my usual combo of damage and speed upgrades and liberal use of spells.

    Right now, the frustration I have is the Godhome fights. I got as far as the nailmasters in the first pantheon and got my ass beat the first time. They don't seem too difficult, but I would have to fight through all the trash bosses again just to get back to them. Now that's some shitty game design. Why does the game keep insisting on wasting big amounts of my time with artificial difficulty / unnecessary padding?

  14. #139
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    Right now, the frustration I have is the Godhome fights. I got as far as the nailmasters in the first pantheon and got my ass beat the first time. They don't seem too difficult, but I would have to fight through all the trash bosses again just to get back to them. Now that's some shitty game design. Why does the game keep insisting on wasting big amounts of my time with artificial difficulty / unnecessary padding?
    Isn't Godhome meant to be exactly that? As far as I can remember, the difficulty-minded fans of the game wanted a hard-as-nails boss gauntlet of sorts, and Team Cherry gave them what they wanted. Unless I misremember what Godhome is supposed to be (I avoided it exactly because it added the sort of content that I'm not particularly interested in), you're criticising an entirely optional part of the game for being exactly what a bunch of people were calling for.

  15. #140
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    So, I gave up on Godhome for a while and decided to mop up everything else that was not looking like it would end the game. Fought the White Guardian and Lost Kin. Seems like with Zote, you can fight the White Guardian multiple times and while it is one of the more fun fights, I don't know if there's any point to it. That's one of the problems I have with the game -- you never know what you get. Sometimes you just pick up an incredibly powerful upgrade just lying on the ground, sometimes you fight a Boss or go through a lengthy ordeal just to get a badge.

    Which leads to the next part what I did... namely the Trial of the Fool. It was incredibly infuriating. It takes so long, you start making mistakes just out of sheer impatience and if there's a tricky part, you have to do it all over again. I must have done it for 7-8 times, every try taking what felt like half an hour. There's this one part where you have to cling to the wall and fight flying enemies in a shrunken arena. I usually take flying enemies down with one of the nail arts, but you can't really use it while jumping on the walls. Even when I went into it with full health, they just barely managed to chip away my health by crowding me or knocking me into spikes and there's so little room to manoeuvre. And you can't heal either. Typically, I would end this fight with one or two health and then the game shrinks the arena further and has you fight fairly fast enemies over spikes in a tiny box. Once I got past that part, though, the rest was easy. There are lots of trash enemies with plenty of space after that, so you get full health and mana for the final fight, which was not particularly difficult either. And what did I get for all the trouble? Useless geo and the hunter's mark, which does nothing, as far as I can tell.

    I think it might be this inconsistency that's turns me off the game the most. The game just doesn't know how to use difficulty for either its gameplay or its story. In Dark Souls, you absolutely need every upgrade and item you get, if it's your first time through. They are relatively rare and often hidden away behind bosses or tough enemies or tricky exploration. It doesn't ever feel like you have too many souls. Fighting and exploring in the game is a struggle, an adventure, a triumph. In Super Metroid also, upgrades increase your survivability and open up new opportunities. In Hollow Knight, though, I felt more like a garbage collector than anything else. When I got Desolate Dive, I had to go over the map all over again to places where the ground rumbled. When I got the Dream Nail, I had to get all those bicycle wheel trees and do all those warrior fights. And it's not fun when you have already explored most of the world -- often it feels more like busywork. In La-Mulana, there's at least puzzles to figure out and whatnot (much better in the second game, though). Comparatively, the Abyssal Shriek puzzle was fun enough to figure out, but there's just not a lot of things like that to do in the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thirith View Post
    Isn't Godhome meant to be exactly that? As far as I can remember, the difficulty-minded fans of the game wanted a hard-as-nails boss gauntlet of sorts, and Team Cherry gave them what they wanted. Unless I misremember what Godhome is supposed to be (I avoided it exactly because it added the sort of content that I'm not particularly interested in), you're criticising an entirely optional part of the game for being exactly what a bunch of people were calling for.
    I didn't back the game, so I don't know anything about that. I'm just reacting to what I experience in the game. And how exactly am I supposed to know it's entirely optional and there isn't anything there that impacts the story or something like that? It's not like it was particularly difficult to reach or anything.
    Last edited by Starker; 4th Jul 2020 at 05:48.

  16. #141
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I didn’t back it either. Godhome came out 1 1/2 years after the game was originally released and at the time it was explicitly marketed as such. I can’t remember if there was anything in the game itself indicating what it was, and if it wasn’t it obviously should be. Though, not having played it, I don’t know how well it is hidden and whether it indicates in any way that it is optional and infuriatingly difficult. It simply didn’t come up when I replayed the game a year ago.

  17. #142
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Okay, since this is not a proper part of the game, I went ahead and read the wiki to figure out whether I really had still things left uncompleted in the game or whether I was just doing extra challenges meant for the git gud crowd. It says it's the final chapter of the game, apparently, with new end bosses and all new secrets and stuff. Well, I beat the first 2 pantheons and 2 of 4 thingies in my inventory lit up, so it certainly seems like it's leading somewhere. Also it's right under the city just next to Royal Waterways and it doesn't seem like the narrative is entirely unrelated. Seems like you're meant to beat the original boss and then do this content afterwards for the true ending or something.

    Also, I went back and beat the White Defender again, and it seems like he does increasing amounts of damage every fight (4 shield per attack for the fourth fight) and every fight his resolve seems to put to the test, so I think maybe you're supposed to break his mind or something by these fights? But, again, I'm not sure if it's a legitimate part of the game or something just put there at the demand of backers for more difficulty. All I know is that the more I play of this end game content, the less I want to play the game. I'm tempted to just go take the bad/regular ending and be done with the game. Apparently, I have 110% of completion (out of 112%) and the remaining 2% include defeating the last of the three pantheons plus another one somewhere. It's really a shame... I rather liked the game for the first 20 hours or so, but the last 40 have been just more and more draining. And now I'm so close to the finish too.

    On the plus side, I finally found a good let's play to watch. Someone who actually comments on the game and the lore and bothers exploring at least a little bit. So I think I'll do that and finish the game myself when he's about the beat the last boss.

  18. #143
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    Hollow Knight was an interesting experience for me as well. I really enjoyed it for the first 50 hours or so although I found a lot of its personality to be cloying and overly precious, like it was trying to capture the feeling of Dark Souls without understanding what actually made Dark Souls great, which was its sense of solemnity and dignity. Hollow Knight certainly attempts this, but for me it came across as undeveloped and often silly.

    Calling it easy, though, stings a bit because I found many of the bosses to be incredibly frustrating. I got quite far, not quite to the end, and then attempted the Path of Pain one afternoon. Like six hours later I was maybe 60 percent through it, having spent the last couple hours on one section, and I became overwhelmed and depressed by the futility of it. Normally I'd take a break and come back to a game later, but at this point I had wasted almost my entire day off, and I felt like a fool for having done it. I tried a few more nights to make progress, but the amount of time I was spending was feeling more and more ridiculous, so I quit outright. That was a while ago, and I should probably go back and properly finish it, but I still feel that tinge of shame and regret when I think about it. Hollow Knight is the game that beat me not just in terms of its challenge but emotionally, too.
    Last edited by Aja; 7th Jul 2020 at 02:30. Reason: Turns out I already told this story on the previous page. Oh well. I like this version better.

  19. #144
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    I was kinda done with it by the end. Long game. Very enjoyable regardless.

  20. #145
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Beat it. Took 61.5 hours. Something like the last 5 hours was banging my head against The Radiance. Didn't even want to play it any more but my kids wanted to watch, lol. "Okay, but I'm just going to lose again. ...Oh hey I won..." Final charms: Unbreakable Strength, Unbreakable Heart, Quick Slash, Mark of Pride.

    Not sure how I feel overall. There's a lot I like and a lot I dislike.

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