Hollow Knight

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Hollow Knight
Hollow Knight cover.jpg
Promotional artwork, depicting the protagonist (foreground) and an enemy in the background
Developer(s) Team Cherry
Publisher(s) Team Cherry
  • Ari Gibson
  • William Pellen
Programmer(s) David Kazi
Artist(s) Ari Gibson
Composer(s) Christopher Larkin
Engine Unity
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch
  • Microsoft Windows
  • 24 February 2017
  • macOS, Linux
  • 11 April 2017
  • Nintendo Switch
  • 12 June 2018
Genre(s) Metroidvania
Mode(s) Single-player

Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania video game developed and published by Australian studio Team Cherry. The game was released for Microsoft Windows in February 2017, and later for macOS and Linux in April 2017 and Nintendo Switch in June 2018.[1] Development was partially funded through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, raising over A$57,000 by the end of 2014.[2]

The game tells the story of a knight on a quest to uncover the secrets of the long-abandoned insect kingdom of Hallownest, whose depths draw in the adventurous and brave with promises of treasures and answers to ancient mysteries.


Gameplay screenshot of Hollow Knight, in which the player is fights a large boss enemy
The player character fights a boss enemy False Knight. In the top-left corner appears full Soul Vessel. To its right, on top, there is only one Mask Shard remaining. Below, the amount of Geo currency is shown.

Hollow Knight is a 2D, Metroidvania action-adventure game, which takes place in Hallownest, a fictional ancient kingdom.[3] The player controls an insect-like, silent, and nameless knight while exploring the underground world. The knight wields a nail, which is a cone-shaped sword, used both in combat and environmental interaction.[4]

In most areas of the game the player encounters hostile bugs and other sorts of creatures. Combat involves using the nail to strike enemies from a short distance. The player can also use spells, allowing for long-range attacks.[5] Defeated enemies drop currency called Geo.[6] The knight starts with a limited number of mask shards, which represent hit points of the character.[7] More mask shards can be collected throughout the game to increase the player's health. When the knight takes damage from an enemy or from the environment, a mask is destroyed. By striking enemies, the knight gains Soul, which is stored in the Soul Vessel. If all masks are lost, the knight dies and a Shade appears at that place. The player needs to defeat the Shade to recover the lost currency and to carry normal amount of Soul.[7] The game continues from a last visited bench—they are scattered throughout the game world and they act as save points—but the player loses all Geo and can hold a smaller amount of Soul. Initially the player can only use Soul to "Focus" and regenerate mask shards, but as the game progresses the player unlocks several offensive spells, which consume Soul.

Many areas feature more challenging enemies (bosses) which the player may or may not need to defeat in order to progress further.[6] Defeating some bosses grants the player new abilities.[4] Later in the game, the player acquires a dream nail. It enables the player to face more challenging versions of some bosses.[7]

During the game, the player encounters non-player characters, with whom they can interact. These characters provide information about the game's plot or lore, offer aid, and sell items or services.[7] The player can upgrade the knight's nail to deal more damage or find soul vessels to carry more Soul. During the course of the game, the player acquires items that provide new movement abilities. They include an additional jump mid-air (Monarch Wings), adhering to walls and jumping off them (Mantis Claw), and a quick dash (Mothwing Cloak). The player can also acquire other combat abilities, known as nail arts, and the aforementioned spells. To further customise the knight, the player can equip various Charms, which can be found or bought. Some of their effects include: improved combat abilities or spells, more masks or their regeneration, better movement skills, easier collecting of currency or of Soul, transformation.[4][7] Equipping Charms takes up limited slots, called notches. Wearing more Charms than notches is possible, but it causes the knight to receive twice as much damage.

Hallownest consists of several large, inter-connected areas with unique themes.[4] Although Hollow Knight does not bind the player to one path through the game nor require to explore the whole world, there are obstacles that limit the player's access to an area. The player may need to progress in the story of the game, or acquire a specific movement ability, a magic skill or an item to progress further.[7] To fast travel through the game's world, the player can utilise Stag Stations, terminals of a network of tunnels; the player can only travel to previously visited and unlocked stations.[6][8]

As the player enters a new area, they do not have access to the map of the surroundings. They need to find Cornifer, the Cartographer, in order to buy a rough map. As the player explores an area, the map becomes more accurate and complete, although it is updated only when sitting on a bench. The player will need to buy specific items to complete maps, to see points of interest, and to place markers. The knight's position on the map can only be seen if the player is carrying a specific Charm.[5][6]


Much of the story of Hollow Knight is not told to the player directly and is instead hinted at in the environments, character interactions and secrets to discover through playing. Much of the detail is also left vague to reflect Hallownest's status as a long abandoned kingdom. The following is a summary of events that are explained through key pieces of information found throughout the game.

At the beginning, the Knight arrives in the town of Dirtmouth, a small settlement above Hallownest's ruins, with the intent to venture down to discover what lies in there. As the journey goes further through the forgotten kingdom, the Knight encounters the possessed remnants of Hallownest's former residents and other creatures, slowly being overcome by an infection that emanates from a sealed Temple. The Knight also encounters Hornet, the self-proclaimed protector of Hallownest's ruins, who attempts to stop the Knight's quest. The Knight is eventually contacted by strange, mystical beings called the Dreamers, who implore the Knight to undo the seals they keep for some unknown purpose. As the Knight continues their quest, the history of Hallownest and the Knight itself is revealed.

Long before the kingdom's creation, a deity-like force called The Radiance ruled over the Moths and the rest of bugkind as queen. An ancient race called the Wyrms also existed during this time and one Wyrm was reborn as the Pale King, the future ruler of Hallownest, when it shed its skin outside of The Radiance's influence (The Kingdom's Edge). The King granted sentience to the bugs who were not ruled by The Radiance and made the bugs forget The Radiance by declaring himself king and establishing the kingdom of Hallownest. The Radiance, angered that its kingdom would forget it, unleashed a plague that manifested as the Infection seen through the Knight's quest. The Infection was created (possibly accidentally) by The Radiance trying to get bugs to remember it, and causing them to go mad. The Infection would also grant great power and courage, but with no regard for their own life. The King, desperate to find a cure, began to experiment with the Void, the dark endless energy that lay in the Abyss beneath the kingdom. Using it, he hoped to construct a Vessel, an artificial entity designed without a will to be tainted by The Radiance and empty enough to contain the source of the infection inside its body. One such Vessel was deemed worthy enough and dubbed the "Hollow Knight" by the King to be the protector of Hallownest. It was sealed inside the Black Egg, which was inside The Black Egg Temple. The Dreamers, formerly powerful beings of Hallownest civilization, chose to fall into eternal sleep in order to maintain their magical seals upon the Temple door.

However, the Pale King suddenly vanished without a trace or explanation and the Hollow Knight was actually not completely empty, but had an "idea instilled". Thus, it was eventually ravaged by The Radiance, which was contained inside of it, enough to begin leaking out Infection of the Temple's depths. Without the Infection contained, Hallownest fell into ruin as its citizens were either killed or taken over by the plague. The player Knight remembers that they themselves are a failed Vessel, rejected in favor of the true Hollow Knight by the King. However, the player Knight is actually a completely empty (and thus superior) vessel that was somehow able to escape the Abyss. The Dreamers, sensing the Hollow Knight's decay, reached out to the player Knight to implore them to defeat their predecessor and take up the mantle as the new Hollow Knight. Hornet, revealed to be one of the Dreamer's adopted child, senses the player Knight's uniqueness through their battles in being able to escape the Abyss and implores it to not simply repeat history, but destroy the source of Hallownest's infection once and for all. Depending on the player's actions, Hollow Knight has three possible endings.

In the first ending, the player Knight defeats the Hollow Knight and absorbs the infection into itself to become the new Vessel. As chains manifest to hold the Knight in place, the Temple is once again resealed and the plague is held at bay. The second ending occurs if the player is able to collect a special item called the Void Heart before fighting the Hollow Knight. The Void Heart is a unique charm said to "Unify the Void under its bearer's will". Halfway through the battle, Hornet arrives to offer assistance and briefly holds the Hollow Knight at bay before she is knocked unconscious. The ending then plays out like the first, except Hornet is sealed in with the player Knight and her mask is used as the seal upon the Temple door.

The third ending occurs if the player collects the Void Heart and uses their Dream Nail ability to enter the Hollow Knight's mind when Hornet arrives to help. Here, the player Knight can challenge The Radiance directly. With the power of the Void Heart, the darkness of the Abyss is summoned to help in battle, and the player Knight is able to destroy The Radiance, wiping out the infection for good. As the darkness from the Temple fades, Hornet wakes to find the player Knight's shell broken and empty, implying it has sacrificed itself and returned to the Void.

Development and release[edit]

Hollow Knight was revealed on Kickstarter in November 2014 and reached its initial funding goal in December of the same year. The game reached a beta state in September 2015 and continued to achieve numerous stretch goals to add in more content after an engine switch to Unity from Stencyl.[9] Some of the stretch goal content, such as the Colosseum of Fools and The Abyss, still made it into the game despite those goals not having been attained.

Nintendo Switch version of Hollow Knight was announced in January 2017 and it released on 12 June 2018. Team Cherry originally planned to make their game available on the Wii U. Development of the Wii U version began in 2016, alongside the PC version, and it eventually shifted to Switch.[10] The creators of Hollow Knight worked with another Australian developer, Shark Jump Studios, to speed up the porting process.[11] Initially, Team Cherry planned the Switch version to arrive "not too long after the platform’s launch", subsequently they delayed it to early 2018.[12] A release date was not announced until the Nintendo Direct presentation at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2018 on 12 June 2018, when it was unveiled the game would be available later that day via Nintendo eShop.[13]

In June 2017, Team Cherry partnered with IndieBox, a monthly subscription box service, to create an exclusive, physical release of the game. This limited collector’s edition included a DRM-free game disc, the official soundtrack, an instruction manual, a Steam key, and various custom-designed collectible items.[14]

In the same month, Team Cherry announced a free update to the game entitled "Hidden Dreams", set for release on 3 August 2017. The update includes two new optional boss encounters, two new songs in the soundtrack, a new fast-travel system, and a new Stag Station to discover. The content can be accessed at any point in the game, though it is advised to wait until the late game due to the difficulty.[15]

On 26 October 2017, Team Cherry launched the second free expansion, entitled "The Grimm Troupe". This content pack adds new major quests, new boss fights, new charms, new enemies, and other content. The update also added support for Russian, Portuguese, and Japanese.[16]

On 31 January 2018, Team Cherry announced their third expansion for the game entitled "Gods & Glory". This expansion unlocks new characters, boss fights, music, and a game mode. Gods and Glory is expected to be released in early 2018. The developers at Team Cherry expects the expansion to be released to the players after the release of the Nintendo Switch port.[17]

On 20 April 2018, Team Cherry launched a new update to the game entitled "Lifeblood" after a public beta testing period which started from 24 March 2018.[18] This update was not one of the 3 originally planned DLC updates for the game, and mainly focuses on enhancing technical aspects of the game. It brings about various optimizations, changes to the color palette, bug fixes, minor additions as well as a new boss fight.[19]


Aggregate score
Metacritic(PC) 87/100[20]
(NS) 90/100[21]
Review scores
Nintendo Life9/10[24]
Nintendo World Report10/10[25]
PC Gamer (US)92/100[4]
PC PowerPlay8/10[26]

Hollow Knight's initial release received "generally favorable" reviews and the Nintendo Switch version was met with "universal acclaim", according to review aggregator Metacritic.[20][21]

10/10 was Jed Whitaker's score on Destructoid with the statement: "It isn't perfect, since nothing is, but came as close as you could get in a given genre. The new leader to beat in its sector, we're talking pure ecstasy here."[6]

PC Gamer's Tom Marks scored the game a 92/100 with the consensus "Hollow Knight is a new classic, with a dense and detailed world full of secrets to discover."[4]


As of November 2017, Hollow Knight had sold over 500,000 copies.[28] On Nintendo Switch alone, Hollow Knight sold over 250,000 copies only two weeks after its release on 12 June 2018.[29]


The game was nominated for "Best PC Game" in Destructoid's Game of the Year Awards 2017,[30] and for "Best Platformer" in IGN's Best of 2017 Awards.[31] It won the award for "Best Platformer" in PC Gamer's 2017 Game of the Year Awards.[32]

Year Award Category Result Ref
2017 SXSW Gamer's Voice Awards 2017 Gamer's Voice (Single Player) Nominated [33]
The Game Awards 2017 Best Debut Indie Game Nominated [34]
2018 Game Developers Choice Awards Best Debut (Team Cherry) Nominated [35][36]
14th British Academy Games Awards Debut Game Nominated [37][38]


  1. ^ "Hollow Knight Mac Debut Delay". 22 February 2017. Retrieved 23 August 2017. 
  2. ^ Team Cherry (19 November 2014). "Hollow Knight". Kickstarter. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  3. ^ Team Cherry (7 July 2016). "Hollow Knight Info Sheet". Archived from the original on 18 May 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Marks, Tom (10 July 2017). "Hollow Knight review". PC Gamer. Retrieved 10 July 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Walker, John (2 March 2017). "Hollow Knight feels too familiar, despite being a solid metroidvania". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on 12 August 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2018. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Whitaker, Jed (27 March 2017). "Review: Hollow Knight". Destructoid. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Team Cherry (2017). Hollow Knight Game Manual. Team Cherry. 
  8. ^ Horti, Samuel (5 August 2017). "Hollow Knight's free Hidden Dreams update out now". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 21 October 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2018. 
  9. ^ "Hollow Knight". Kickstarter. Retrieved 23 August 2017. 
  10. ^ Cousins, Jon (21 January 2018). "Feature: Bugging Out With Hollow Knight's Team Cherry". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 26 June 2018. 
  11. ^ Devore, Jordan (17 May 2017). "Hollow Knight now has a second team to help speed up the Switch port". Destructoid. Retrieved 26 June 2018. 
  12. ^ Wales, Matt (14 November 2018). "Hollow Knight on Switch has been delayed until early next year". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 26 June 2018. 
  13. ^ Wales, Matt (12 June 2018). "Hollow Knight is out on Switch today". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 26 June 2018. 
  14. ^ "Hollow Knight | IndieBox". www.theindiebox.com. Retrieved 3 June 2017. 
  15. ^ "Free Content Pack 01: Hidden Dreams coming 3 August :: Hollow Knight General Discussions". steamcommunity.com. Retrieved 23 August 2017. 
  16. ^ "The Grimm Troupe Descends! Backer Rewards! TGS! Cosplay! More!". Team Cherry. 14 September 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2017. 
  17. ^ "GODS & GLORY REVEALED! CHRISTMAS WRAP! SWITCHY-STUFF!". Team Cherry. 31 January 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2018. 
  18. ^ "Hollow Knight: Lifeblood now on public beta! Short Switch Update!". Team Cherry. 24 March 2018. Retrieved 31 May 2018. 
  19. ^ "Hollow Knight: Lifeblood has launched!". Team Cherry. 20 April 2018. Retrieved 31 May 2018. 
  20. ^ a b "Hollow Knight for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  21. ^ a b "Hollow Knight for Nintendo Switch Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 27, 2018. 
  22. ^ Blake, Vikki (28 June 2018). "Hollow Knight review - a slick, stylish, and super tough Metroidvania". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 28 June 2018. 
  23. ^ Marks, Tom (21 June 2018). "Hollow Knight Review". IGN. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  24. ^ Mundy, Jon (19 June 2018). "Review: Hollow Knight (Switch eShop)". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  25. ^ Abou-Nasr, Adam (22 June 2018). "Hollow Knight Review - Review". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 24 June 2018. 
  26. ^ Forrest, Tavish (15 May 2017). "Review: Hollow Knight". PC PowerPlay Magazine. Retrieved 23 June 2018. 
  27. ^ Cook, Adam (27 June 2018). "Hollow Knight review". VideoGamer.com. Retrieved 27 June 2018. 
  28. ^ Walker, Alex (10 November 2017). "Hollow Knight Has Sold Over 500,000 Copies". Kotaku. Retrieved 10 November 2017. 
  29. ^ Stevens, Colin (29 June 2018). "Hollow Knight Sold over 250,000 Copies on Switch in Its First Two Weeks". IGN. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  30. ^ Carter, Chris (12 December 2017). "Nominees for Destructoid's Best PC Game of 2017". Destructoid. Retrieved 3 January 2018. 
  31. ^ "Best of 2017 Awards: Best Platformer". IGN. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2018. 
  32. ^ PC Gamer staff (17 December 2017). "Best Platformer 2017: Hollow Knight". PC Gamer. Retrieved 31 December 2017. 
  33. ^ Aviles, Estevan (31 January 2017). "Gamer's Voice Nominees Revealed for SXSW Gaming 2017". SXSW. Retrieved 16 March 2018. 
  34. ^ Makuch, Eddie (8 December 2017). "The Game Awards 2017 Winners Headlined By Zelda: Breath Of The Wild's Game Of The Year". GameSpot. Retrieved 31 December 2017. 
  35. ^ Gamasutra staff (5 January 2018). "Breath of the Wild & Horizon Zero Dawn lead GDC 2018 Choice Awards nominees!". Gamasutra. Retrieved 8 January 2018. 
  36. ^ Makuch, Eddie (22 March 2018). "Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Wins Another Game Of The Year Award". GameSpot. Retrieved 22 March 2018. 
  37. ^ deAlessandri, Marie (15 March 2018). "Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice at forefront of BAFTA Games Awards nominations". The Market for Computer & Video Games. Retrieved 16 March 2018. 
  38. ^ Makedonski, Brett (12 April 2018). "BAFTA names What Remains of Edith Finch its best game of 2017". Destructoid. Retrieved 13 April 2018. 

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