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Hollow Knight |OT| Cute Insects That Just Want to Burrow Into Your Heart

Toma

Let me show you through these halls, my friend, where treasures of indie gaming await...
So... I've been trying to get more and more into it and I kinda like the core of what's there, but I kinda feel like the pacing is really crazy here.

I like big games as much as the next guy, but if your game is big, you still need to pace it correctly. On Ori, we had around 400 level designs during pre-production and then went through the process of cutting everything that was just 'more traversal', while trying to only keep the stuff in that felt really good. So we left probably 100-200 levels on the cutting room floor. Sounds a bit crazy, sure, but proper pacing in a game like this is super important. Sure, we could've made the game twice as big with the content we had designed, but if you don't have enough 'juicy stuff' (in the case of a Metroidvania, new abilities and level designs that make you really learn these abilities and play the game in a new way every now and then) to constantly keep the player engaged, you're actually doing your game a disservice. It also doesn't help that the game looks 'mostly the same' in all the areas thanks to its art direction. Everything's dark and while the colors change a little, most areas still look kinda samey, which gets tiresome after some time.

Even on Ori, I always felt that the time it took to gain the DoubleJump was a little too long - Granted, we used story sequences to break up the pacing a little, but it would've been good if you would've gotten the next ability like 10 minutes earlier.

But here, I feel like I'm traversing soooo much and very rarely get new stuff, so I'm much more encouraged to put the controller away since it always feels like there's probably nothing new within the next area anyway. I've played for probably 5-6 hours now and only now got the Dash - The fireball isn't something I use a lot, since I feel like saving my Souls for healing instead - And the level design doesn't necessarily naturally guide me to where I can / should go next. That's the difficult thing with a Metroidvania: You design an open world, but you need to connect the areas in a way so that it'll immediately be obvious to the player where he can continue on with the new ability he just learned. At this point, I'm also desperate to find a weapon upgrade, since a lot of the stronger enemies that I constantly face now take a lot of hits and it becomes a bit of a chore to always fight the same enemies while never getting stronger to deal with them in a more efficient way.

In the shops, I spent around 5000 'geo' or so already and only got map upgrades and what I assume to be heart pieces - but not a full heart, of course, so again I feel like I'm progressing at a snails pace.

If you compare the pacing and flow here to games like Super Metroid or any other classic game in that genre, it just feels like Hollow Knight is a real drag. I'm really getting the feeling that they should've looked at the final layouts and then edited it down to only keep the 'really good stuff' to make the pacing feel a lot more tight. When designing a Metroidvania, I really feel like 'less is more' should be your core mantra, since the overall pacing is the most important thing.

So does the pacing pick up at any point or does it keep going like this?

Very insightful impressions, thank you. Will wait for some replies before purchasing, but I am not entirely happy about the sound of the first 6 hours in either case then.
 
So what Thomas is saying is we'll get double jump quicker in Ori 2, right?
gotta try!

As for Hollow Knight, I do hope the pacing balances out because the gameplay videos look wonderful. I would definitely Switch this if it holds up.
 
Ori's movement and its vibrantly animated world are what just barely puts it above Hollow Knight for me

But Hollow Knight certainly nails the sense of progression way better than Ori did. I've played for four hours, and there's been a steady dripfeed of abilities, mini-bosses, NPCs, new areas. I don't know if it'll hold up throughout, but they really paced this game well

Oh Jesus, different strokes I guess.

If you compare the pacing of games like Super Metroid, Zero Mission, Symphony of the Night, Aria of Sorrow and Ori to this, I have a really hard time seeing how you could think this has tighter pacing - Maybe I missed out on some stuff? I've been playing for hours on end and still feel like I'm just at the beginning and barely got anything that really changes up the gameplay.

In Ori, you got a new ability every 20-25 minutes or so and you also had the Ability Tree - Here, the Charms don't really add all that much to the gameplay itself and it takes forever to get new abilities.

Controls-wise, there's also a lot of small little tricks that make a 2d platformer 'feel' better. Let me give you one example: In Ori and some other 2d games, if you run off a platform, you still get a 0.1 second or so threshold to jump - so even if you 'should' already fall, you still get a bit of leeway, which makes things feel more fluid and less unforgiving. That's not the case here, you need to perfectly time your jumps to happen at the end of a platform, otherwise you'll fall. There's a crap ton of small little user-friendly tricks like that that you can put into your control system to just make things feel a little more fluid and predictable and Hollow Knight feels fairly barebones in comparison to games like Ori and Super Meat Boy - Granted, the platforming itself here also doesn't seem to be quite as important as in these kinda games.

Anyway, I'll try to finish it over the next couple of days and will post some more impressions then. I'm not sure how 'nice' it is if one developer puts his impressions on another game into the OT, but as a huge Metroidvania fan, I'm just always trying to find out how to improve upon the formula and while I enjoy my experience still, the pacing really feels way drawn-out compared to my favorites in the genre.
 

Artanisix

Member
- controls are janky (massive input drops anyone? or just me?) which amplifies the frustration in several platforming parts, especially ones involving spikes that completely reset you upon touching
- horrible, horrible map system and traversal; spending 10-40 minutes just to get to where i need to make any progress is obnoxious and annoying
- not a lot of new items or skills and i'm about 8 hours in iirc. upgraded my weapon twice, got two new skills, haven't managed to upgrade my hearts *once*, don't have enough geo to really afford any charms from the charm shop
- did they really have to add the "lose all your shit on death" mechanic? drove me absolutely nuts when fighting against
the massive bug knight dudes who do two damage a hit to me
, ended up dying to them before i could get back to my body and lost 800+ geo. nice. i guess i could use the banker, oh but then that adds another 10+ minutes to my traversal time when i need to buy something. sweet.

i like the world, the aesthetic, the lore, and the boss fights. i would like the exploring, but the few and far between rest stops and fast travels make more of an exercise in frustration than a true awe-inspiring exploration like super metroid or ori.

i'll keep playing since i like what i like, but damn does the game have significant flaws imo.
 
- controls are janky (massive input drops anyone? or just me?) which amplifies the frustration in several platforming parts, especially ones involving spikes that completely reset you upon touching
Controls are responsive. There's obvious framerate hitching which is a different matter entirely that hopefully gets remedied soon, but even then I haven't had Hollow Knight eat inputs.
 

PaulloDEC

Member
If you compare the pacing and flow here to games like Super Metroid or any other classic game in that genre, it just feels like Hollow Knight is a real drag. I'm really getting the feeling that they should've looked at the final layouts and then edited it down to only keep the 'really good stuff' to make the pacing feel a lot more tight. When designing a Metroidvania, I really feel like 'less is more' should be your core mantra, since the overall pacing is the most important thing.

I'm enjoying Hollow Knight a lot, but I'd agree with much of this. The areas are just crazily huge and incredibly labyrinthine, with benches and fast-travel stations few and far between. I don't personally mind the slow-release of new abilities, but you can certainly feel the space between them compared with other games in the genre.

It'd be great to see some post-launch changes alleviate the tedium a bit. More benches and fast-travel stations, and some changes to the mapping systems would be a great start.

Controls are responsive. There's obvious framerate hitching which is a different matter entirely that hopefully gets remedied soon, but even then I haven't had Hollow Knight eat inputs.

I get the occasional framerate hiccup too, but I'm assuming that's just a Unity thing. Not terribly frequent, luckily.

I did have some issues with button-presses going unnoticed on my wireless Xbox One controller, but since switching back to my wired 360 controller it's been smooth sailing.
 

AriEX2

Member
Oh Jesus, different strokes I guess.

If you compare the pacing of games like Super Metroid, Zero Mission, Symphony of the Night, Aria of Sorrow and Ori to this, I have a really hard time seeing how you could think this has tighter pacing - Maybe I missed out on some stuff? I've been playing for hours on end and still feel like I'm just at the beginning and barely got anything that really changes up the gameplay.

In Ori, you got a new ability every 20-25 minutes or so and you also had the Ability Tree - Here, the Charms don't really add all that much to the gameplay itself and it takes forever to get new abilities.

Controls-wise, there's also a lot of small little tricks that make a 2d platformer 'feel' better. Let me give you one example: In Ori and some other 2d games, if you run off a platform, you still get a 0.1 second or so threshold to jump - so even if you 'should' already fall, you still get a bit of leeway, which makes things feel more fluid and less unforgiving. That's not the case here, you need to perfectly time your jumps to happen at the end of a platform, otherwise you'll fall. There's a crap ton of small little user-friendly tricks like that that you can put into your control system to just make things feel a little more fluid and predictable and Hollow Knight feels fairly barebones in comparison to games like Ori and Super Meat Boy - Granted, the platforming itself here also doesn't seem to be quite as important as in these kinda games.

Anyway, I'll try to finish it over the next couple of days and will post some more impressions then. I'm not sure how 'nice' it is if one developer puts his impressions on another game into the OT, but as a huge Metroidvania fan, I'm just always trying to find out how to improve upon the formula and while I enjoy my experience still, the pacing really feels way drawn-out compared to my favorites in the genre.

Cheers Thomas.

William and I are pretty big fans of getting lost in worlds, so we pretty much set out to create one that allows you to do just that. I'll certainly admit, it's different strokes for different players, and the scale could be daunting or overwhelming for some.

Ultimately 60% of Hollow Knight is optional content anyways. You can finish it in 4-6 hours on a straight run, and only 4 of the 30+ bosses actually have to be fought. Many of the areas never need to be entered. The Elderbug in town will direct the player through the critical path of the game, if that's what they choose to follow.

We tried to make something players could poke around, meeting strange creatures and find odd pathways to hidden areas. You can get power-ups and all the traditional stuff as well, though I think we find as much joy in creating odd details, and silly moments that make each of us laugh.

Pacing as a result is definitely more languid, though we try and spice it up with different enemies and areas, and an evolving array of moves, charms and charm combos. Certain combinations of charms can create some very OP builds, but I won't spoil those.

It's definitely an epic journey towards the 100% complete mark. Our only hope is that those new discoveries and surprises don't let up throughout.

There is jump queuing (that small leeway when leaving a platform), but we keep it pretty tight, like the rest of the controls. The harder platforming is consigned to the White Palace. I'll be keen to hear how you go in there.

I should say, both William and I are eager to play Ori! We've heard universally fantastic things, and would've jumped on it already had we not been heads down making this game. Hopefully time will soon allow it ;)

Edit: Woop! There are 5 bosses on the critical path. I forgot one.
 

jimboton

Member
So... I've been trying to get more and more into it and I kinda like the core of what's there, but I kinda feel like the pacing is really crazy here.

I like big games as much as the next guy, but if your game is big, you still need to pace it correctly. On Ori, we had around 400 level designs during pre-production and then went through the process of cutting everything that was just 'more traversal', while trying to only keep the stuff in that felt really good. So we left probably 100-200 levels on the cutting room floor. Sounds a bit crazy, sure, but proper pacing in a game like this is super important. Sure, we could've made the game twice as big with the content we had designed, but if you don't have enough 'juicy stuff' (in the case of a Metroidvania, new abilities and level designs that make you really learn these abilities and play the game in a new way every now and then) to constantly keep the player engaged, you're actually doing your game a disservice. It also doesn't help that the game looks 'mostly the same' in all the areas thanks to its art direction. Everything's dark and while the colors change a little, most areas still look kinda samey, which gets tiresome after some time.

Even on Ori, I always felt that the time it took to gain the DoubleJump was a little too long - Granted, we used story sequences to break up the pacing a little, but it would've been good if you would've gotten the next ability like 10 minutes earlier.

But here, I feel like I'm traversing soooo much and very rarely get new stuff, so I'm much more encouraged to put the controller away since it always feels like there's probably nothing new within the next area anyway. I've played for probably 5-6 hours now and only now got the Dash - The fireball isn't something I use a lot, since I feel like saving my Souls for healing instead - And the level design doesn't necessarily naturally guide me to where I can / should go next. That's the difficult thing with a Metroidvania: You design an open world, but you need to connect the areas in a way so that it'll immediately be obvious to the player where he can continue on with the new ability he just learned. At this point, I'm also desperate to find a weapon upgrade, since a lot of the stronger enemies that I constantly face now take a lot of hits and it becomes a bit of a chore to always fight the same enemies while never getting stronger to deal with them in a more efficient way.

In the shops, I spent around 5000 'geo' or so already and only got map upgrades and what I assume to be heart pieces - but not a full heart, of course, so again I feel like I'm progressing at a snails pace.

If you compare the pacing and flow here to games like Super Metroid or any other classic game in that genre, it just feels like Hollow Knight is a real drag. I'm really getting the feeling that they should've looked at the final layouts and then edited it down to only keep the 'really good stuff' to make the pacing feel a lot more tight. When designing a Metroidvania, I really feel like 'less is more' should be your core mantra, since the overall pacing is the most important thing.

So does the pacing pick up at any point or does it keep going like this?

Thonas, I loved Ori for its pure platforming thrills and value your vision as a developer but with all due respect, with all that streamlining and obsession on 'cutting' and focusing only on the 'juicy bits' you ended with something that felt more to me like a regular setpiece based platformer with a focus on speed running in an interconnected world than a true metroidvania. I disagree that in a metroidvania it should 'immediately be obvious ' where the player needs to go to progress the story or get the next big upgrade. Neither Super Metroid nor Symphony do this, though after tens of plays through those classics some people seem to have forgotten what Super Metroid was like the first time. And that's why games like Hollow Knight, Salt & Sanctuary or Axiom Verge feel a lot more like Super Metroid or Symphony of the Night than games like Ori or Guacamelee ever did. It's true that HK is a lot bigger than Super Metroid, and that's a great thing.


Ori isnt even in my top 5 metroidvanias on Steam let alone better than this. For me of course.

Its a fine game but much like Guac or Song of the Deep for example, it left no lasting impression on me, and I hated the race levels so much it made me think less of the game.

Salt, Axiom, Dust and now Hollow would all rate much higher for me. Hmm actually cant think of a 5th so I guess it does make top 5 lol :p

But then again im a metroidvania fanboy so I end up liking most of them. Its like the Souls games, even the worse ones are better than most games.

We are derailing the thread tho.

Honestly, I like this better than Ori.

I liked Ori but I love Hollow Knight.

Totally agree with you guys
 

Wok

Member
- did they really have to add the "lose all your shit on death" mechanic? drove me absolutely nuts when fighting against
the massive bug knight dudes who do two damage a hit to me
, ended up dying to them before i could get back to my body and lost 800+ geo. nice. i guess i could use the banker, oh but then that adds another 10+ minutes to my traversal time when i need to buy something. sweet.

Ditto, except I managed to get my 1000 souls back. 😝

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=871399833
 

Nere

Member
So... I've been trying to get more and more into it and I kinda like the core of what's there, but I kinda feel like the pacing is really crazy here.

I like big games as much as the next guy, but if your game is big, you still need to pace it correctly. On Ori, we had around 400 level designs during pre-production and then went through the process of cutting everything that was just 'more traversal', while trying to only keep the stuff in that felt really good. So we left probably 100-200 levels on the cutting room floor. Sounds a bit crazy, sure, but proper pacing in a game like this is super important. Sure, we could've made the game twice as big with the content we had designed, but if you don't have enough 'juicy stuff' (in the case of a Metroidvania, new abilities and level designs that make you really learn these abilities and play the game in a new way every now and then) to constantly keep the player engaged, you're actually doing your game a disservice. It also doesn't help that the game looks 'mostly the same' in all the areas thanks to its art direction. Everything's dark and while the colors change a little, most areas still look kinda samey, which gets tiresome after some time.

Even on Ori, I always felt that the time it took to gain the DoubleJump was a little too long - Granted, we used story sequences to break up the pacing a little, but it would've been good if you would've gotten the next ability like 10 minutes earlier.

But here, I feel like I'm traversing soooo much and very rarely get new stuff, so I'm much more encouraged to put the controller away since it always feels like there's probably nothing new within the next area anyway. I've played for probably 5-6 hours now and only now got the Dash - The fireball isn't something I use a lot, since I feel like saving my Souls for healing instead - And the level design doesn't necessarily naturally guide me to where I can / should go next. That's the difficult thing with a Metroidvania: You design an open world, but you need to connect the areas in a way so that it'll immediately be obvious to the player where he can continue on with the new ability he just learned. At this point, I'm also desperate to find a weapon upgrade, since a lot of the stronger enemies that I constantly face now take a lot of hits and it becomes a bit of a chore to always fight the same enemies while never getting stronger to deal with them in a more efficient way.

In the shops, I spent around 5000 'geo' or so already and only got map upgrades and what I assume to be heart pieces - but not a full heart, of course, so again I feel like I'm progressing at a snails pace.

If you compare the pacing and flow here to games like Super Metroid or any other classic game in that genre, it just feels like Hollow Knight is a real drag. I'm really getting the feeling that they should've looked at the final layouts and then edited it down to only keep the 'really good stuff' to make the pacing feel a lot more tight. When designing a Metroidvania, I really feel like 'less is more' should be your core mantra, since the overall pacing is the most important thing.

So does the pacing pick up at any point or does it keep going like this?

5 to 6 hours to get the dash sounds a bit long, I got it in 2 to 3. Also there are heart pieces and not instant heart containers because I think since the game is much longer than, say super metroid, the developers had to handle out upgrades in a slower pace than other metroidvanias, same with the rest of the abilities. Just because everything is slowed down though doesn't make it necessarily a bad thing, different people different tastes, some people enjoy being lost in those huge worlds not knowing where to go, it shouldn't be obvious where to go after acquiring an ability.
 

Vertti

Member
I also been loving to get lost in the world of Hollow Knight. It's crazy how many places you can go at the same time while figuring what you need to do. Reminds me a lot of Soulsborne.

I also loved Ori a lot but I don't agree with Thomas. Some metroidvanias make it painfully obvious where to go. Super Metroid is still the king because you really have to pay attention to get through.

I'm provably about a half way but I think this would have been my GotY of 2016 it if would have been released year ago. Hollow Knight will give run for the money to all those heavy hitters releasing later this year.
 
Sometimes, the branching in the level design can give you a right case of choice paralysis when you see 4 or more openings to the next screen :p Definitely more to get lost in this world, and when you come back around to familiar areas to fill the map, it's very satisfying.
 
Yeah I don't know how it took him 5-6 hours to get the dash.

I'm 9 hours in and I have like 5 abilities plus a bunch of talisman I've purchased.

If we really want to complain about an issue of the game, outside of the map system where you have to find the map dude in a section and sometimes it takes hours to do so, then let's talk about charms. So many of them require 2 or 3 slots and while they are useful they aren't particularly amazing.

So now I have like 3 or 4 charms equipped I'm 9 hours and I can safely only think of one time I got a charm slot upgrade from story progression. The other two times I got from actually purchasing the slots from the vendor.

Why have charm slot progression be so limited and slow and have as many charms as you offer. It's not like any are particularly game breaking, there's shit that would be fairly standard upgrades in an rpg like. Hell, the fact they made the compass and the bounce back negation 1 slot charms it means I am already having to reserve 2 of my spots just to simply be able to play the game effectively in the first place.

If you're going to give more slots either through progression or through purchasing, and you make many charms occupy 2 or 3 of them, at least have the upgrades grant you more than 1.


On a different note if anyone has dash and wall jump and wants to know where to find the dude you train with in the trailer, you have to
climb up the huge mountain face you first fell into and arrived at the town, aka the starting area, and keep going up and to the west where you will eventually find a snow mountain area. Find him there.
 
Oh Jesus, different strokes I guess.

If you compare the pacing of games like Super Metroid, Zero Mission, Symphony of the Night, Aria of Sorrow and Ori to this, I have a really hard time seeing how you could think this has tighter pacing - Maybe I missed out on some stuff? I've been playing for hours on end and still feel like I'm just at the beginning and barely got anything that really changes up the gameplay.

In Ori, you got a new ability every 20-25 minutes or so and you also had the Ability Tree - Here, the Charms don't really add all that much to the gameplay itself and it takes forever to get new abilities.
Abilities arent the only measure of progress, you know. I'd say the rate of abilities, charms, new enemies, new areas, new NPCs, new bits of world-building, new secrets uncovered has been great throughout the four hours I've played. It feels like there's always something new or interesting to reward your curiosity.
 

Elixist

Member
i read thomas post, then played for a couple hours, pondered in my mind about how to reply and you guys covered almost all of it. i love getting lost in the world. i love the scariness of a new area, dark souls style, like shit im lost im gonna die and lose my souls heh, then you learn it and you guchi. i love the npcs, and their writing, popping up in areas unexpectedly. quirrel is great, i died at a boss, and i saw him on the path back to get my geos and he told me i should sharpen my nail at some place lol. i love the world aesthetic, places look different enough, and also similar in ways that ties it all together. theres little clues for landmarks and secrets about in foreground shadows and stuff too.

i agree with you thomas, that i dont like the fireball much. i've used it mostly only when necessary, (or on accident the B button guys really?) i just like keepin the my juice for life like you do. it would be nice to get a new weapon earlyish too, although the game seems balanced around the simpleness of it which is cool.
 

Tizoc

Member
Any chance for the HUD to disappear and only pop up for a short while after taking damage and when you heal up? Take this screenshot for example, it would've made for a great background image if one could hide the upper left HUD :p
 

Nere

Member
What the fuck
I reached the end of Deepnest only to find a huge spider named mask maker who does nothing
. That's it? there must be something more there.
 
I'm enjoying Hollow Knight a lot, but I'd agree with much of this. The areas are just crazily huge and incredibly labyrinthine, with benches and fast-travel stations few and far between. I don't personally mind the slow-release of new abilities, but you can certainly feel the space between them compared with other games in the genre.

It'd be great to see some post-launch changes alleviate the tedium a bit. More benches and fast-travel stations, and some changes to the mapping systems would be a great start.
I'd rather have the benches and fast travel stations be placed more centrally within an area rather than have more of them IF the developers intend to compromise. I've only played for approximately 6 - 7 hours right now, so unless Hollow Knight's locations becomes increasingly vast as time goes on without apt adjustments, I feel that currently the rate at which the game doles them out is fine.

The alternative approach is something recent-ish Metroidvanias haven't really been doing particularly well either, on that note. Abundant fast travel points removes the importance of well-placed shortcuts (which Hollow Knight seems to be handling better than them so far) and especially in conjunction with said games not exactly being bashful about showing entire portions of the map prematurely (coupled with objective markers) ultimately weaken the overall exploration. Games like Ori, Outland or Guacamelee to name a few examples quickly killed my drive to wander off the beaten path due to the above; fun to navigate through screens - in large part thanks to how satisfying the act of controlling the character is whether it be due to abilities or otherwise - and eventually I might get around to investigating the various crevices if there's diversity in rewards, but actual exploration wasn't as exciting when stumbling upon a new area akin to Super Metroid or the better parts of a Soulsborne. They also guide you in additional ways (some of which not necessarily a bad innovation) but they frankly didn't leave much room for imagination, save for rare one-off stretches that uncharacteristically might not appear as heavily signposted. At the moment Hollow Knight feels like the stark opposite of the aforementioned modern-day Metroidvanias.

I'm also of the opinion that the map system is moreso divisive than it is legitimately flawed at its core until I see more of the game world, partially since it's expected for said information to be given on a silver platter nowadays thanks to games like these. So far there's an appropriate amount of landmarks to identify where you're approximately at when looking to route ahead, the scenery is distinct enough between main areas / stretches of a given location (unlike Salt & Sanctuary) and portions of the map can gradually be bought at the hub store too. It's not as if Hollow Knight is completely bereft of features that pinpoint every little stand-out element either, though (optional as they may be) I'd wager they're meant to be swapped around after a region is no longer uncharted or kept for later given the number of available notches early on. Tracking down the map seller is the one aspect that could be scrutinized for minor re-iteration in my eyes; not the idea behind it nor the fact he only provides a (healthy) portion of a sector, but moreso that there's no indication as to whether he currently might be in a given place or even remotely nearby to begin with. Throwaway first thought, but if for example there were small pieces of litter he accidentally and subtly left behind given all the material he's carrying (albeit interspersed between every other screen or so within proximity) then it'll reduce the confusion or choice paralysis some might hypothetically experience given the wealth of pathways to follow... without resorting to overbearing hand-holding.

Perfectly understandable if this isn't up someone's alley - different strokes et al - as it's definitely an acquired taste, but I'm not convinced it's atrocious like some are claiming.
 

Granjinha

Member
I love that this game has a slower pacing and doesn't direct the player that much. I mean, that's one of its good points. I feel like the world is much more "mine" this way and that i'm actually much more in control. It helps that the world is actually interesting. I think Ori and Hollow Knight try two different things and both do it really well. I'm still not sure which one i prefer, though :)
 
Cheers Thomas.

William and I are pretty big fans of getting lost in worlds, so we pretty much set out to create one that allows you to do just that. I'll certainly admit, it's different strokes for different players, and the scale could be daunting or overwhelming for some.

Ultimately 60% of Hollow Knight is optional content anyways. You can finish it in 4-6 hours on a straight run, and only 4 of the 30+ bosses actually have to be fought. Many of the areas never need to be entered. The Elderbug in town will direct the player through the critical path of the game, if that's what they choose to follow.

We tried to make something players could poke around, meeting strange creatures and find odd pathways to hidden areas. You can get power-ups and all the traditional stuff as well, though I think we find as much joy in creating odd details, and silly moments that make each of us laugh.

Pacing as a result is definitely more languid, though we try and spice it up with different enemies and areas, and an evolving array of moves, charms and charm combos. Certain combinations of charms can create some very OP builds, but I won't spoil those.

It's definitely an epic journey towards the 100% complete mark. Our only hope is that those new discoveries and surprises don't let up throughout.

There is jump queuing (that small leeway when leaving a platform), but we keep it pretty tight, like the rest of the controls. The harder platforming is consigned to the White Palace. I'll be keen to hear how you go in there.

I should say, both William and I are eager to play Ori! We've heard universally fantastic things, and would've jumped on it already had we not been heads down making this game. Hopefully time will soon allow it ;)

Edit: Woop! There are 5 bosses on the critical path. I forgot one.

Interesting thoughts! Even though I may sound a bit critical, keep in mind that I've been doing nothing today other than playing Hollow Knight, so while I'm skeptical of certain choices you guys made here (mostly pacing related), it still has its hooks deep in me and I'll definitely try to finish it ASAP.

After playing a few more hours now, I definitely think just approaching it like a straight-up Metroidvania isn't really the right move here. It has a bit of a Rogue feel with the loooong levels, your character being relatively weak in comparison and the harsh death penalty.

I do agree with what people wrote here about the charms - I'm at this point now and I feel like I should grind a bit in order to be able to carry more charms. In general, I probably just prefer tighter experiences where I'm constantly being thrown into new stuff and don't have to traverse the same exact areas for a long duration, but again, you guys definitely created a very addictive hook there. If you're cool with it, I'll write a bit of feedback after I finished it in here. I love these kinda games and it's rare nowadays that I take a full weekend just dedicated to a game instead of working my butt off, but this one makes me want to go in again and again...
 

Stoze

Member
What the fuck
I reached the end of Deepnest only to find a huge spider named mask maker who does nothing
. That's it? there must be something more there.

There is but you're not going to need it until later. My recommendation is to skip Deepnest until you have a known purpose to be there, not just because you killed the
Mantis Lords.

Deepnest is the only area where the pacing faltered for me because I trudged through it early imo.
 
I prefer this game to Ori because of a couple reasons.

-Ori's focus was on platforming and skill-based jumping which is not why I play Metroidvanias. While some may contain those elements, I didn't play Super Metroid or SOTN or Axiom Verge or any of my favorite Metroidvanias because they had amazing Mario-esque platforming. Hollow Knight certainly has these elements, but as I said, it's not the focus. As to whether or not it feels tight, I feel like the unfortunate frame stuttering has messed with people in this regard but as someone who it hasn't really happened to much I can't say that I ever noticed dropped inputs or fucking up jumping challenges due to anything other than my own misreading of timing.

-The combat is immensely more satisfying as the abilities and jumping and spells and healing and controls are all tailored more specifically around it to give you a better diversity of options as well as more complex encounters. The combat in Ori never drew me in but Hollow Knight is a joy to fight things in. The knockback from attacks was simply something I adjusted to and then took into account to use effectively, to make strikes and use the bounceback to get out of reprisals or bounce off an enemies head to avoid an attack or simply tap forward to realign myself to press attacks. But that's also a focus thing. Ori was less focused on this style of combat due to it's mechanics and Hollow Knight wants you engaging in combat more than platforming. And that's also something I like in a Metroidvania.

-The way the game teaches you or acclimates you to new enemies is brilliant. You cannot run face first into shit and expect to come out fine and you can't play the game that way. The game specifically designs enemy encounters and traps and such to teach you when you encounter them the first couple times and punish you hard for it. This is very specific design that works incredibly well thanks to the healing system.
-Spike drops down and hits you without warning.
-Ow, that sucks.
-Heal.
-Look for spikes from then on.
-Forget anyways and get hit by a spike into a pit.
-Respawn on the pit
-Heal and remember
Or with some of the enemies that you don't see attacks for and don't know their patterns. They are often shown to you in a one off position where it's the only thing you need to concentrate on or deal with to allow you to adjust to what they do. And even if not, then they are enemies that you learn what they do at the moment and carry it with you. The jellyfish that send out the explosive after they die. Welp, guess I need to dodge when I kill one or just avoid them. The bugs that block with shields. Oh, guess I need to counter after they swing or jump behind them. They all will hurt you on first contact but that lets you see what they're capable of and then you heal because all you have to do to heal again is land 2 or 3 hits on them, and try again. The sheer variety of interesting enemies and the way they're utilized in encounters is significantly better than Ori.

-The sound design clues you into these things as well; every pick-up or consumable such as the worms, the mask pieces or such, have audio cues for when you get close. Hell, if you die and you hunt down your shade, the music changes to let you know when you're near. You will pay attention to sound more often, let it lead you places.

-Ori and Hollow Knight are going for two VERY different things when it comes to their exploration. Ori's focus on movement and mechanics would not work in HK's world because HK's world is there for you to peek and prod, to slowly progress through and to slam a fist in your face when you start rushing around. It doesn't concern itself with letting you navigate the spaces you're in like a magical air monkey with tight platforming and spry movement. It's for digging in, looking around, luring an enemy away. For lack of a better term, it's very Dark Souls in how it handles it. This may not work for all people, especially those who want their checkpoints and flashy shows of progression and to feel like you "beat a level" at the end of the day. And that's fine. But what it's attempting it is doing extraordinarily well. And that's because HK is much more concerned with a risk/reward set up that differs a lot from a game like Ori. When you get to a new area it's a constant war in your brain for where you should go, how far you should go, what you should risk and what you hope to find. I have a number of times kept pushing to find a bench, to find the map seller, to find a fast travel point and gotten punished for rushing or being sloppy. I like that they're not littered everywhere. I like that the map can only be updated at benches. I like that your sense of progress is immense. I adore Etrian Odyssey's make your own map system, I love that there is actually an accomplishment when you map out new areas and discover new things. As I said, it may not be what everyone likes, but I do not feel any part of it is a flaw; it is all design. And I like that design choice. After mapping out an area and going through it and visually seeing it you should be able to skip right through those parts with little to no trouble. I had very little issues going from bench to a new unlocked location when I got new movement as I didn't need to explore or expand my map in those areas and having gone through them carefully am aware of how to avoid all the enemies and machinations.

-The atmosphere is straight up unrivaled. Ori is a beautiful game and I loved the design and charm of the levels but as above, what Hollow Knight gets world-building right. It is vast and dark, the NPCs breathing life into the area with their dialogue or cute animations and movements, where you find them, what they're even doing there. The game keeps consistent tone and aura in it's presentation, it's music and sound effects shoring up the sides of it's area design. It feels like a WORLD. I have not played a game other than Hollow Knight that saw what was so effective about the Souls' games lore and worlds and storytelling decisions and "get it" but make it all their own and unique in their own way. It handles dialogue and lore info in a much more straight-forward way but keeps the same feeling throughout which is an accomplishment.

I'd write more but that's more time I can't spend playing this game or trying to ignore this intense jaw pain.

I respect Thomas a lot and Ori was a great game, but I can't say I agree with him at all about his criticisms. I just think he has a different design philosophy that Hollow Knight is not trying to go for at all, so setting it up as failing on something it's not trying to do seems a bit off-course to me.

But yeah, charm space is kinda BS lol

Fake Edit: Oh, the spells have actually gotten me through some fights. A lot of bosses and enemies don't exactly give you good time for heals so for example when a room locks and I encounter a new enemy who I'm trying to learn the pattern of, a soul shot sometimes gives me the edge to win the fight because the attack patterns don't let me stand there and heal. Especially if they have fast swings or shields. Also lets me hop on ledges without too much issue if I kill an enemy near it from afar. You regain soul so quickly in fights I don't see much need to hoard it all the time, just hit the next enemy a few times and boom you're back. Keeping full soul is a nice safety measure when exploring but sometimes using it to hit an enemy prevents that damage from happening in the first place.
 

ryechu

Member
So... I've been trying to get more and more into it and I kinda like the core of what's there, but I kinda feel like the pacing is really crazy here.

I like big games as much as the next guy, but if your game is big, you still need to pace it correctly. On Ori, we had around 400 level designs during pre-production and then went through the process of cutting everything that was just 'more traversal', while trying to only keep the stuff in that felt really good. So we left probably 100-200 levels on the cutting room floor. Sounds a bit crazy, sure, but proper pacing in a game like this is super important. Sure, we could've made the game twice as big with the content we had designed, but if you don't have enough 'juicy stuff' (in the case of a Metroidvania, new abilities and level designs that make you really learn these abilities and play the game in a new way every now and then) to constantly keep the player engaged, you're actually doing your game a disservice. It also doesn't help that the game looks 'mostly the same' in all the areas thanks to its art direction. Everything's dark and while the colors change a little, most areas still look kinda samey, which gets tiresome after some time.

Even on Ori, I always felt that the time it took to gain the DoubleJump was a little too long - Granted, we used story sequences to break up the pacing a little, but it would've been good if you would've gotten the next ability like 10 minutes earlier.

But here, I feel like I'm traversing soooo much and very rarely get new stuff, so I'm much more encouraged to put the controller away since it always feels like there's probably nothing new within the next area anyway. I've played for probably 5-6 hours now and only now got the Dash - The fireball isn't something I use a lot, since I feel like saving my Souls for healing instead - And the level design doesn't necessarily naturally guide me to where I can / should go next. That's the difficult thing with a Metroidvania: You design an open world, but you need to connect the areas in a way so that it'll immediately be obvious to the player where he can continue on with the new ability he just learned. At this point, I'm also desperate to find a weapon upgrade, since a lot of the stronger enemies that I constantly face now take a lot of hits and it becomes a bit of a chore to always fight the same enemies while never getting stronger to deal with them in a more efficient way.

In the shops, I spent around 5000 'geo' or so already and only got map upgrades and what I assume to be heart pieces - but not a full heart, of course, so again I feel like I'm progressing at a snails pace.

If you compare the pacing and flow here to games like Super Metroid or any other classic game in that genre, it just feels like Hollow Knight is a real drag. I'm really getting the feeling that they should've looked at the final layouts and then edited it down to only keep the 'really good stuff' to make the pacing feel a lot more tight. When designing a Metroidvania, I really feel like 'less is more' should be your core mantra, since the overall pacing is the most important thing.

So does the pacing pick up at any point or does it keep going like this?

It shouldn't take 5-6 hours to even explore every room available to you without the dash. You are probable platforming with too much trepidation or compulsively dispatching every enemy.
 

Tizoc

Member
Welp I just learned the
HAOH MUSHI KEN
Time to go see if those paths I didn't go to lead anywhere now :V
Also Just learned I can bounce off Spikes all Uncle Scrooge Style.
 

DrArchon

Member
Played for what felt like only a couple of minutes and managed to get the tram pass and the pale ore. Thank God I managed to get the lvl 3 nail before taking on any serious challenges.

Also, holy hell,
Nosk
is creepy.
 

bbd23

Member
- controls are janky (massive input drops anyone? or just me?) which amplifies the frustration in several platforming parts, especially ones involving spikes that completely reset you upon touching
- horrible, horrible map system and traversal; spending 10-40 minutes just to get to where i need to make any progress is obnoxious and annoying
- not a lot of new items or skills and i'm about 8 hours in iirc. upgraded my weapon twice, got two new skills, haven't managed to upgrade my hearts *once*, don't have enough geo to really afford any charms from the charm shop
- did they really have to add the "lose all your shit on death" mechanic? drove me absolutely nuts when fighting against
the massive bug knight dudes who do two damage a hit to me
, ended up dying to them before i could get back to my body and lost 800+ geo. nice. i guess i could use the banker, oh but then that adds another 10+ minutes to my traversal time when i need to buy something. sweet.

pretty much how I feel about this right now and I doubt the things that I like about this game are enough to make me want to finish it at this point. super disappointed.
 

ryechu

Member
-Ori and Hollow Knight are going for two VERY different things when it comes to their exploration. Ori's focus on movement and mechanics would not work in HK's world because HK's world is there for you to peek and prod, to slowly progress through and to slam a fist in your face when you start rushing around. It doesn't concern itself with letting you navigate the spaces you're in like a magical air monkey with tight platforming and spry movement. It's for digging in, looking around, luring an enemy away.

I find traversal in Hollow Knight faster paced than in Ori. The penalty for getting hit is really low, you can bounce off most enemies or dash, nail bounce, dash through most platforms and that's before mantis claws. If you are about to fall on spikes, you can just bounce off them. This game does not punish rushing around.
 
What does
the tram pass
do?

Did you find the tram in the first area, on the right side near the crystal mine? Take that using the Tram pass and it will take you to a new area (that will help with game direction too). There's also a tram in Deepnest somewhere, If I remember right.
 

Nere

Member
I found some creepy spiders with a bench on a house, they were saying please sit and rest we are friends, I knew something weird was going on but rested anyway and now I woke up prisoner in a new area
... this game is getting better and better!!
 
lol Just as I post that precision platforming isn't a focus in this game I get to that room in CP.

Whoopsidaisy

Actually CP may be the perfect example of what I'm talking about with it's shortcuts and traversal upgrade making getting back through areas a snap.
 

MGrant

Member
Ori couldn't hold my attention, but this game has me hooked. Played about 8 hours so far, really enjoying it. Not sure what the difference is, but it's great.
 
Cause I'm a rocketbuuuuuuuuuuggggg~
Burning out my fuse up here alone

OH MY GOD NO

OH GOD

My heart just broke oh shit

Myla... ;______;
 

mattiewheels

And then the LORD David Bowie saith to his Son, Jonny Depp: 'Go, and spread my image amongst the cosmos. For every living thing is in anguish and only the LIGHT shall give them reprieve.'
This map handicap is interesting to me, if it isn't meant to be used traditionally without a marker charm equipped, does that mean the dev's intention was for us to try to play the game blind? Because just from the opening branches I was getting really squirmy trying to place myself on the map, I can't imagine trying to do it when the branches become easy to lose track of. I'm interested in sir philosophy behind it because it does make you work an unused muscle, but I'm not sure if it's worth it.
 
At first I was annoyed by the map, but once I got the compass charm, suddently it felt...off? Too easy?

Then I realized it was because I had been learning the map, based on landmarks and room shapes, and now I didnt have to. The special icons and distinct room marking on the map was more than enough to orient once you were familiar with the area. Having the compass strips all that away
 

KingKong

Member
This game is great. At first I though it would just be a Metroidvania with some Souls stuff but it feels really different
 

Arkkoran

Unconfirmed Member
Getting really bad frame drops in some areas of Deepnest. Game crawls to 5FPS, killed me several times already
 

DrArchon

Member
I've finally reached a point where I've got too many places to explore.

I've got
the Royal Waterway, the Hive, the place that the Seer Moth just opened up, probably more of the Ancient Basin and Deepnest, the other side of the City of Tears, all of the places I need to go back to with the double jump, and probably some more that I missed
. It's a little overwhelming. I've put something like 10 hours into this game so far and I feel like I haven't even reached the half-way point.
 

Rhaknar

The Steam equivalent of the drunk friend who keeps offering to pay your tab all night.
you get the dash like 2 hours in, 5 hours in you have the dash and the wall jump, which is almost all the mobility you need (wll jump has no "cooldown" and it cling you to the wall too, so you will only need the double jump to reach open space tall areas, most of the time theres some sort of wall around tho).

also, im going to stop spoiler tgging shit like "dash" or "wall jump". Come on guys, its a metroidvania, thts not a spoiler >_>
 
oh fuck me what type of side quest did I pick up, having huge Ocarina of Time flashbacks.

Which is the queen's old retreat? I'm supposed to
deliver a flower to a grave without getting hurt this will be impossible
 
Huh. Not...entirely certain where to go now. Guess I'll try some of these places and see what opens up and maybe get my ass handed to me by those jerks at the bottom of the Mantis place
 
At first I was annoyed by the map, but once I got the compass charm, suddently it felt...off? Too easy?

Then I realized it was because I had been learning the map, based on landmarks and room shapes, and now I didnt have to. The special icons and distinct room marking on the map was more than enough to orient once you were familiar with the area. Having the compass strips all that away

terrific idea to make it optional, fwiw. Im in the same boat, navigation became so much easier once i relented and eventually equipped the thing, but something was clearly lost

was pretty cool when i was in the middle of nowhere in terra incognita and the compass told me how far i was from the nearest mapped area, tho.
 
Like I said, I think it would have a bit better map balance if shit cost a lot of money or specific items that are limited as then it would REALLY make navigating with the map important to pick and choose what you can do.

As well as simply having a "auto-map" option you can turn on if the mapping isn't your spiced latte
 
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