Backlog Club: Hollow Knight does things that other games can’t. That’s why it’s so good

2022 07 29 15 37 57 Hollow Knight

This article is part of our new test series, Backlog Clubwhere we (Nintendo Life!) pick a game that is likely to be on the “game we should play” list, and then we (NL + you!) spend the next month playing it. Read part one of our Hollow Knight game here!

This is the finale of Hollow Knight play through, and Kate is really enjoying the peace and quiet (when she’s not fighting tough bug bosses)…

2022 07 29 15 04 27 Hollow Knight

I’ve never been particularly fond of skydivers, but I can appreciate the art of a good jump.

Like a really tasty burger, the perfect jump is about the art of simplicity: Height, pitch, velocity and a little technique known as “coyote time”, which helps the player There’s a bit of idleness on what counts as the edge of a ledge, which is all the lettuce, tomato, and onion of your video game burger. When people start to get confused with that recipe, their burgers can look good, but they always end up being too wet, too big, or too overwhelming.

But a jump is almost always just a jump: It’s a discrete unit, where one button press = one jump. There are wall jumps, double jumps, and triple jumps, but one-button, one-button jumps (without external factors such as the player’s forward momentum, or obstacles) are usually the same height, same height degree, same speed. Developers need a solid base on which to build everything else, such as the placement of platforms; Players need to know that the world can change, but their abilities are always reliable.

Hollow KnightThe jump of is not that. Instead of being a discrete unit, a “Press A To Jump”, the game gives you a “Hold A To Jump” jump. Suddenly you have to take charge of your own position, and at first – especially as someone who doesn’t like records – I hated it. It feels too floating, too imprecise, too unpredictable.

Hollow Knight

But like any game, once you give it a while, it becomes second nature. I don’t even notice myself making minute-by-minute adjustments to my jumps, because it’s just muscle memory. I can’t imagine how confident a developer must be to go against a decision as fundamental as a jump, and although Hollow Knight is certainly not the first game to do so. that, but it is very far from the most obvious use of the craftsman.

The floating jump is just the first of many things Hollow Knight does the other way around. But it’s not my favorite. My favorite thing is Hollow Knight loves Silent.

If you just watch any sound design show these days or watch a single Marvel movie, you know that sound composition is very important to the atmosphere of any media. . Ambient noise, like sound design in general, is something most people only notice if it’s done poor. Go one look listen to different ambient sounds in Minecraft, most of which are stacked to create an overall soundscape:

Isn’t that a Hollow Knight yes ambient sound. In fact, it has a lot. But they come together to create a soundscape that speaks to emptiness – emptiness, if you will – and it’s another bold, brave choice that pays off.

Each area has a relative amount of reverb, making it always sound like you’re in a cave. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it’s windy, and it’s almost always some haunting piano music, melodious drumming, or ethereal choral drones in the background. Every noise that belongs to a being, whether friendly or threatening, is made much more purposefully when everything else is quiet. Like a bug, your ears become more sensitive to new and unexpected sounds – such as a small, pleading sound. whistle about a Grub in trouble, or intimidation screening of one of those wretched desires.

This sense of emptiness is compounded by the background – even though the game is always 2D, each area has a huge depth of field, achieved with a combination of lighter, blur, parallax, and pre-colored elements. scene in silhouette. You always feel as if you were in some kind of giant underground network of caves and arenas.

And that silence is present in Hollow Knight’s passable areas as well – not just its sounds and backgrounds. So much of the game is empty space, filled with solitude that can be beautiful or ominous, or sometimes both. Even the save points tie in with Hollow Knight’s theme of moments of rest and contemplation – rather than statues, books, or glowing points that let you save the game and restore health, they to be benchGive your lil bug a chance to breathe a little.

Most games give you a sense of purpose and familiarity, but Hollow Knight seems to take place in a faded civilization. Dead bodies littered the ground. Ornate steles lay upside down. An ancient battlefield looks like snow-covered hills, until you start to see hills with helmets and spears. This is a wasteland, and you’re just a bug.

Obviously, that’s the point. Friend yes pops up after a bunch of things have happened (though I’m not finished yet, so don’t spoil it! I don’t know what all that is!) and you’re all alone. You are tiny. You are unaccompanied. You are mute. You have no help, and like some Everyone Bugs seem to believe, nor hope. That’s what makes it interesting: Silence, emptiness, unnaturalness. And what do we do when things don’t go our way in video games? We fix them. Mostly by hitting other things with other things until they explode.

2022 07 29 14 35 41 Hollow Knight

I’m not a game designer, but if I were (and maybe why I am not), I’d be too scared to make half of the decisions Team Cherry makes on Hollow Knight. Why not just stick with things the way they’ve always been – a world full of stuff, full of noise, full of side quests and a complete jump in 1985? Why reinvent the wheel?

Because the wheel is not always interesting. The wheel is something we take for granted. Some, if not most, of the best games of our generation are those that aren’t afraid to rip through the rule book. People who don’t feel bound by genre or convention. In many ways, Hollow Knight is a very typical metroidvania – but the things that Team Cherry chose to repeat changed the game for future developers.

And if there is a message to take from this? Maybe we should all be as brave as Team Cherry. You have the choice to follow your path and prove that you’re just as good as everyone else – or forge your own path and become the best in the world at doing something different.

Thanks for reading! This is your last chance to pick up next month’s game before early August – looks like it will Portalbut Baba is you is close behind!

Have you completed Hollow Knight this month? Let us know in the comments section!

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