The brutality of Hollow Knight is only matched by its excellence. Like many new games, it borrows many elements from games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Basically, you live, die, repeat. Going in blind can be a frustrating experience but once you learn the ropes it’s ultimately rewarding. As you venture into the unknown, exploring, fighting enemies, and inevitably losing your precious, precious geo, here are a few things that might help you survive.
A large majority of Hollow Knight is spent exploring the unknown. While it’s possible to remember your way, it can be easy to get lost in the various caverns of the Hollow Nest. One of the first people you will meet is Iselda, wife of the mapmaker Cornifer. Her shop is one you should visit often, as she sells many charms and other useful items. The Wayward Compass is one charm in particular that you should buy as soon as you have the geo.
It can be a bit hard trying to find the mapmaker once you enter a new section of the game. However, the Wayward Compass will always pinpoint your current location. So, even if you enter a section of the game without a map, this charm will still help you know where you are in relation to other areas in the game. It’s best to have this charm equipped at all times as it’s helpful for navigating uncharted areas if you want to backtrack.
While the Wayward Compass is a great aid in making your through the game, without a map, you are essentially blind. Once you enter a new area, finding Cornifer should be your first objective. Having a map will help guide you on where to go next when you hit dead ends and blocked passageways. However, finding the man can sometimes be a bit harder than it sounds.
It will take some searching. You’ll know you are on the right trail once you hear humming and start to find a trail of papers. Once you meet him, he will happily sell you a map of the area for a few geo. It’s important to know that he will disappear if you don’t have enough geo to buy a map. If that happens, he will leave the map at Iselda’s shop for you to purchase.
Okay, you will die in this game. Running into tough enemies, navigating new environments and general carelessness are all factors that will inevitably lead to your death. When you die, you lose all of the geo that you’ve collected. You can recollect this geo by going back to the section of the game that you died and defeating your shade. You may think it’s a good idea to hold onto that geo, but, if you die before getting your shade back, it is lost forever.
It can be sad and frustrating to lose all that hard-earned currency. There are two ways to rectify this situation. One is to know the items you want to buy and get them as soon as you have collected the geo. Pins and charms are items you will want to collect early to make your journey easier. You can get to vendors fast by making use of the Stag Station to fast travel.
Another way to make sure your geo isn’t lost comes later on in the game. Once you have access to Milliebelle, the banker, you can store your money without the risk of losing it. However you want to use her services is up to you. You can store a little a time to save up for the more expensive items.
A lot of enemies in Hollow Knight aren’t necessarily tough, they just require a bit of patience. Every new enemy can be a bit of a guessing game. If you rush in, there is a chance that you will be wrecked. You should keep your distance when coming across an enemy you haven’t fought before, just to see how they attack. Once you feel them out, try finding creative ways to attack them, whether it’s jumping and slashing down from above or taking potshots and backing off to slowly chip away at their life.
When you collect enough soul, you can heal yourself by holding down the A button. Doing this leaves you vulnerable, however. Learn to put some distance between you and your enemies so that you can heal yourself. You can also equip the Baldur Shell Charm to protect yourself while healing. If you don’t have enough soul, you should make a command decision and safely find your way back to the nearest bench to recoup your health.
One thing that sets Hollow Knight apart from many other Metroid-style games is the ability to customize your play style with Charms, which are nice little passive upgrades to the Knight. As we’ve mentioned before, some Charms are great for exploration, while others will protect you against enemies. However, you have to find the ones that work for you.
You can only equip Charms at a resting spot. You should choose wisely because you will be stuck with them until you get to the next bench. It’s best to think about what you have more trouble with – enemies or obstacles. It also helps to consider the area you are about to enter before equipping your charms. Some work better than others in certain areas. As you visit new and unexplored areas, your collection of charms will continue to grow.
Chris Aiken is an intern at Paste.