At a time when newly minted metroidvania were already blatantly defying traditional ones, what Hollow Knight proved as the one who does not want the thing in 2017 is that surprises with capital letters were still possible in this type of game.
There were clues to anticipate it: with the phenomenon of crowdfunding on Kickstarter quite consolidated, Team Cherry had launched a campaign -in 2014- that made it clear in its stretch goals that its project aspired to the top, but could not wait that long. The game came out on Steam and what happened next does not surprise us, since Hollow Knight is the best example that we have seen in recent years, in the entire industry, of a video game that hides much more than meets the eye, waiting for whom want to dive. The funny thing is that that Kickstarter was a half success in which all those objectives that pointed to a huge game at the content level were not achieved. Luckily, the team did not care and continued to take care of their great project – taking advantage of some sales that they accompanied from the beginning – expanding and polishing the edges of their creature. We find that same team now carefully timing the release of a sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, which we already see on all of this year’s most wanted lists, and not just among indie.
Quite a surprise
Hollow Knight was the big surprise of 2017. Until its launch, who most who least among those who follow two-dimensional games with the passion of always had already seen something about the project. The truth is that the title always looked like a safe purchase for this type of player, but no one could even imagine the magnitude of what was hidden under the ghostly city of Dirtmouth. What seemed like a humble independent project, destined to offer ten or fifteen hours of Metroid-style gameplay, began to expand more and more, leaving sensations that had not been experienced for a long time, until catching up as the best of the great projects of that time. year. A video game that sold for 15 euros grew in interest due to its peculiar atmosphere practically every half hour of play, and it did not allow you to leave the controls until you had played forty or fifty hours, if you wanted to explore the entire map calmly. Once completed, the game that seemed nice to see, but not much more, left a residue that no one would have imagined when starting it: that of having played one of the best metroidvania ever, if not the best.
Hollow Knight’s success, selling about three million copies, was simmered. Its launch, coinciding in time with the recently released Switch and Zelda: Breath of the Wild, did not make too much noise or generate a large number of reviews in the international press, although it was striking how positive they were all. Specifically, from these pages we were among the first to point out it as the masterpiece that it is, but the thing came to more for some of our colleagues, who came to postpone Breath of the Wild because they were totally obsessed with this game or they said that their band sonora had caused them sensations that they had not experienced since Star Wars. Very thick words for a game that was going on sale, we insist, at fifteen euros.
Three years later, several aspects have been shown to be key in a game that is already unanimously considered a masterpiece, leaving aside the amount of content added after launch. They are precisely those facets that we want to see more expanded in this next expansion that ended up becoming a full sequel. On the one hand, its artistic section was much closer to that of Ori and the Blind Forest or Rayman Legends than to the typical minimalist indie, no matter how much its characters bet on caricature in their characters. On the other hand, its difficulty and the mechanics learned from Dark Souls were applied with a masterly level of internalization, resulting key in the immersion. Finally, the sensation of mystery that surrounded everything we did, the idea of creating our map as we could buy it by fascicles that were not exactly in sight, gave the game the exact ammunition to distinguish itself from many other similar titles that already was on the market.
With the barbarity of copies sold, the prestige of Hollow Knight and Team Cherry, apparently made up of five people, has not stopped growing all this time, especially as their influence has been felt in other games. Special mention for an Ori and the Will of the Wisps that has borrowed both the fictional languages of its characters and the purchase of maps to guide us. The two-dimensional gaming landscape has had enough fancy guests since then, but Hollow Knight is present in all of them in one way or another.