Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition is a Kickstarter funded indie from developer Team Cherry. Released in early 2017 for PC and earlier this year for Nintendo Switch, the game has come to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the Voidheart Edition collecting all previous DLC. Now players can get a chance to play this well received game on the console of their choice in its full glory.
Hollow Knight:VE tells the story of a small insect knight set in the kingdom of Hallownest. Using only a nail as a sword and spells he gains on his quest, our nameless and mysterious hero must save the world. The story of Hollow Knight is imaginative and well thought out. Long ago the insect inhabitants of the game were ruled over in a hivemind by a god known as The Radiance. One creature was born not under the influence of The Radiance, known as the Pale King. The king created a hero to fight the infection of the old ways; The Hollow Knight. Unfortunately everything went wrong and the Hollow Knight was corrupted and Hallownest fell into decay, its citizens now mindless followers of the Radiance once more. Now the king is mysteriously missing and it is up to a little hero bug to save the world. The game does a fantastic job of telling this story over the course of the game as your character chats with citizens of the area and you discover secrets.
Hollow Knight:VE is a Metroidvania game at its core. Players platform in a side scrolling view around the dark and foreboding levels. Enemies drop Geo, the currency of the game used to purchase upgrades from shopkeepers. Health is tallied via a meter made of masks and can be upgraded as you progress. If your hero dies he is teleported to the last save spot, a bench your little guy can rest on, and then must go back to the spot of his demise to defeat a “shade” of himself and retrieve his lost currency and fix his soul meter. Soul is used to heal and cast spells and is filled by defeating enemies. Your character can be customized even further with equipable Charms providing various upgrades. As with most games of this nature, players must explore the areas and collect movement upgrades or defeat bosses to proceed to the next area. Fast travel is provided via Stag Stations and an adorable geriatric stag beetle to quickly backtrack and collect missed resources that were unattainable without certain abilities.
Hollow Knight:VE is not easy. While some players may welcome the challenge, the average gamer should be prepared for failure. Once you get the hang of the gameplay and power up a bit, it helps considerably, but even then I died quite often. This was always my own fault though and I never felt like the game was too difficult, just challenging. Using soul to heal is imperative and since your bug is incapacitated while healing, timing it is key. The game is very grindy as enemies will respawn if you leave an area. Use this to your advantage though and farm for Geo to buy those needed upgrades if you run into a difficult boss or area. At the start of the game, repeating areas is a necessity to get the initial cash to buy the ability to map the area and pinpoint your location on it. Since the underground tunnels you are exploring are a vast maze, you will need the direction. I got lost very often until I purchased them.
Graphically Hollow Knight:VE is beautifully dark and ominous. The character design is unique and adorable. The areas are diverse and intricate. Boss fights are various and screen filling. Music and audio were some of the best I have seen in an indie game. NPC’s you encounter speak in a made up language that just increases the cuteness factor. I love that you can hear them mumbling as you get closer. The huge soundtrack is full of piano and violin based classical music that adds to the feel of adventure and the excitement of boss fights. Hollow Knight:VE is just a very well crafted and produced game. This quality was very unexpected given the MSRP of ONLY $14.99! I have seen similar Metroidvania games go for twice as much and not be nearly as well crafted.
Hollow Knight:VE is huge! With easily 20 hours just for the main quest and probably twice as much if you include the additional content and do everything. You just cannot find a better game on consoles this year for the price in my opinion. If you like Metroidvania games, you have to buy Hollow Knight:Voidheart Edition. While it may not bring anything new gameplay-wise to the genre, the unique design and story, amazing soundtrack, challenging combat, hours of enjoyment, and fantastic boss fights make Hollow Knight:Voidheart Edition a bonafide winner.
Hollow Knight:Voidheart Edition is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The original version is available on Nintendo Switch and Steam. This review is based on a PS4 copy provided for that purpose.