WILW: Hollow Knight
I bought Hollow Knight after seeing it on sale during Black Friday. I was attracted to the beautiful artwork and the cute protagonist. (Hey, guys, let’s be real. These things are important to me.)
The artwork has continued to blow me away, the music matches the artwork, and the protagonist remains very cute. (That little guy sitting on the bench above—he’s a beetle…? I think.) His sword is actually a nail. MUCH CUTENESS.
What I was not expecting from this game was the intensity of difficulty in gameplay. This is by far the most difficult game I have ever played, and there have been several instances when I wanted to either throw the controller or quit the game altogether. So I’ve been debating sharing it as a “What I Love Wednesday” item. I wouldn’t say that I love this game—a more accurate assessment is that I am awed, frustrated, and mildly obsessed with this game.
I think being parents who game is confusing to a lot of people, so I want to tell you a little bit about where I am at with gaming at this moment. I don’t game much these days, and what I find as my biggest challenge as a female who finds herself with essentially three full time “jobs”—full time mom, full time wife of a graduate student, full time web development student, as well as blogger, active poet and playwright, and aspiring doodle-ist—is that I cannot “turn it off.” I have a hard time calling it quits on working, and have struggled with being a workaholic essentially since high school. You know that girl that was secretary or president of every club? That has always been me.
If I were a single person operating in a vacuum, this might just be draining, and I would probably push hard all week, and sleep all weekend. As a mom, wife, and student, if I don’t make time to take a break, I feel like I’ve been stuck in a group project where no one is pulling their weight, until someone (usually Ries) points out that I’ve been working on something since 7:00am, and 11:00pm is not an appropriate time to deep clean the bathroom.
For me, gaming is time that I say, "Enough is enough. It’s time to decompress.” That being said,
1) When Gus is awake, he doesn’t usually allow anyone to sit down and play a game for longer than about three minutes. Ries will start a Destiny match and get kicked for inactivity before the match is over because Gus has gotten into something he shouldn’t be in. I have given up trying to game during the day for the most part.
2) When Gus is asleep, well, he’s usually on top of one of us. He’s a co-sleeper, and while we didn’t want that or plan for it, it’s something that we’ve come to terms with, and understand that it’s a biological thing, and that it’s a sign he trusts us to guard him from predators while he’s asleep. (Maybe our next kid can trust our future dog to protect her from predators, so we can have our night time back.) During the school year, we both go to bed with Gus usually, but during breaks, we have been alternating who stays up and who goes to bed with Gus. You can’t play an Xbox, Playstation, or PC from bed, but you can play a Nintendo Switch in bed. So I primarily use the Switch for gaming these days.
Being that I primarily game in bed before I go to sleep, to decompress, the games I want to play are either slow paced, like “Stardew Valley,” or nostalgic in nature, like “Super Mario Odyssey.” I was kind of hoping for a pretty adventure game when I started playing “Hollow Knight” and while it is a good game, that’s not what I got. Were I in a different stage of life, I think I might be able to appreciate it more.
“This game is really hard,” I tell Ries.
”Why do you think I hate side-scrollers?” replies Ries.
It is a side-scroller, which means the game is two dimensional, (your character goes only right or left—think original Mario), which means it relies on challenging it's players with difficult game-play that requires the timing of hits and jumps to be exactly right. The penalty of not getting the timing right is death, and if you die, your soul is separated from your body—you’re required to find your soul and fight it, which returns your soul, part of your health meter, and all of your money. If you die before you are able to reconnect with your soul, you lose all the currency you had when you died. Woof. My blood pressure is rising just thinking about it.
That being said, because game play is so difficult, there is a real sense of accomplishment when you are able to beat a foe. One of the things that brings me so much joy in this game is that there is a “Grubfather” (all of the characters are fictional bugs) who has been separated from his children. One aspect of the game is going around and trying to find the Grubfather’s children, which are little caterpillars trapped in glass jars.
Another thing I want to add is that this game is massive. I think the price of the game in the Nintendo eShop is about $15. I’ve played the game for probably 30-40 hours, which is the length of a typical campaign for a $60 game, and I realized last night that while I have uncovered most of the map, I have just barely scratched the surface—I still don’t have some of the abilities for my little protagonist, and have not even found probably 80% of the boss fights.
I think I probably have another 40 hours of play time to complete the game in the capacity I usually do. That’s a lot of game for the price, and in an era of games like Destiny that charge for a base game and continue to gouge their players $20-$40 every time an expansion is released, that matters to me. (Sorry guys, I just can’t get into Destiny. I was beta player, and it’s just never going to happen. Don’t hate me.)
If you’re curious and willing to take on the challenge, this game is beautiful. If you just want to play something on the Switch in bed, this might not be the right speed. If you have any recommendations for the latter speed, let me know. I’m looking.
You might like Hollow Knight if you like:
Punching holes in walls
Slowly losing your sanity
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