Oh, I am going to RAMBLE!
|"If our life is but a spark in the eyes of gods, let us blind them at least once." - Unnamed Moth
"This dreary place... it reminds me of home. How ghastly..." - Zote
You arrive in Dirtmouth, to what looks like an abandoned village sealed off from the rest of Hallownest. An elderly, downturned-lipped and sorrowful looking bug shuffles forward to greet you. He is Elderbug, one of the few inhabitants to have remained in the village. He is happy to greet any weary traveler who passes on through. What happened to the other dwellers? The well to the right of the village is a the doorway to the Forgotten Crossroads, almost all who snuck down it to seek adventure did not return.
Nameless, silent and wielding a rusty nail, you pitter-patter your way into these long forgotten crossroads.
What you do not realise, as you wander in and peer at the deranged looking bugs that stagger back and forth with their oddly glowing orange eyes, is that the forgotten kingdom of Hallownest has been tainted with an infection that is driving the once peaceful bug populace towards insanity. Insanity and then a hollowness that would see them shuffling about the lands as empty husks.
What is your purpose? Why are you here, and why do you wear masks similar to those worn by some of the infected creatures, who, in some kind of pitiful attempt at vanity, try to hide their disfigured faces?
In the deepest darkness, there are beasts who wear faces stolen from your memories and pluck at the strings in your heart.
The lands that lay beyond, the glistening crystalline caves that echo with the desolate clanks of husk miners' pickaxes, the lush but deadly vegetation of Greenpath, the misty explosive jellyfish infested Fog Canyon, the underground wastes where only the screaming fungals would think to reside, the nightmarish Royal Waterways that you could wander into innocently without a lamp and quickly regret it once you hear terrifying suckling noises coming from the darkness. Could it be the dreaded and rarely seen Flukemarm, the enormous pulsating abomination of a maggot that spews its slimy offspring at you in its efforts to slow you down and no doubt eat you?
And what of Deepnest, the dank underground warren of narrow tunnels designed for the enormous Garpedes to barrel on through, not to mention the spiders and critters that skitter in the gloom, counting your eye sockets and knowing you were not one of them, but perhaps, a willing and yet to be wrapped snack?
I hear there is a city where the sky weeps, named aptly the City of Tears, where the residents live in their plush and ornately decorated mansions. High above and seemingly oblivious to the infection that is ravaging the wider world. They continue, hosting parties, gossiping, despite the glow of their infected eyes glistening back at them from their cold cups of tea. They are fine. They are rich! They are untouchable! Or, so they thought.
As you make your way through these contrasting and disturbingly beautiful landscapes, you find yourself getting stronger, the nail masters teach you their ancient arts and soon you learn how to move at breakneck speeds, flying over vast chasms and sprouting wings for a second so that you can get just high enough to rescue the many wailing grubs trapped in jars that seem to litter Hallownest.
"Perhaps dreams aren't such bad things after all..." - Elder Bug
Your journey will not be easy. You will be confronted and attacked by all manner of gigantic, infected and wholly angry bugs. Why can't we sit down and talk through your problems over a cup of tea? Dung Defender?! Gah! Stop flinging dung at me! You may be unfortunate enough to stumble upon the master of souls, who tragically claimed my soul over and over and over and OVER, his only desire being to bottle it and plink it onto a shelf, to be admired within his haunted sanctum.
You will meet a crystal fiend who will refuse to share his bench with you. And bless you if you manage to impress the leaders of the Mantis tribe. I hear there is also a Gruz Mother, who, if you prod while she is snoozing, will start to hurl her swollen belly about, with complete disregard for her many, wiggling, yet to be spewed offspring.
There is also Zote the Mighty, be sure to listen to all of his precepts. They contain little nuggets of wisdom, such as: Precept Thirty-Seven: 'Borrow, But Do Not Lend'. If you lend and are repaid, you gain nothing. If you borrow but do not repay, you gain everything.
God, how I love this game! I cannot describe to you how immersed I felt when I was playing and how sad I felt when it dawned on me that it was all over. The world is rich with lore and the history of what went on when Hallownest was a thriving kingdom. But it does not tug on your ear and force you to listen. Delve if you wish or fight your way through to the end without lifting a single stone to peek under.
However, I urge you to seek out the lore. Everyone needs to know what happened to Hallownest! On your way, rescue the cute little grubs, sit down and browse through the Teachers Archives and of course, pay your respects at the Resting Grounds. Maybe, if you are lucky, a moth will give you the ability to rummage about through the hearts and minds of those around you. Although, some do not take kindly to invasive mind intrusions!
Bosses. Hollow Knight is jam-packed-full of bosses. Around every corner, there is a hulkering boss waiting to rip off your face. You can side-step most of them like a coward. Or you can show them some of your neat charm combinations, that allow you to say, dash through them like a sharp pointy shadow knife?! Or how about summoning your own little band of weaverling spiders who both keep you company and mess up anyone who steps within a mile of you?!
Charms are the most marvelous concept. Think of them as little collectibles that give you buffs and abilities that your otherwise cute-self lacked. Mix, match, combine them to your heart's content! If you are lucky, you will find a combination that hum perfectly together to bring about an unexpected transformative power! Some charms require hunting down, tangling with bees and other nightmarish creatures, but they are bloody well worth the investment.
In short, this is the best game I have EVER played and I wait with a never-ending stream of drool for the next installment: Silksong. Time to find out Hornet's side of the tale!