Monday, August 6, 2018


I spent the weekend in a reasonably nice cabin without an internet connection of cell signal. The original plan was to binge on Slay the Spire while the rest of the people there slept. Slay the Spire doesn't work offline. The Switch also made the trip but there was nothing that I really wanted to play on that, unless...

It was with great trepidation that I booted up Hollow Knight again. I deleted my old save, attempting to start fresh and remember what I learned and had been told. More progress was made this time, in fact I saved up enough money to buy the buy and pencil, surpassing my old record, and managed to acquire the first special power before calling it a night. I returned to it the next night, started the next area, poked around for a bit, and then shut it off.

Why can I not get invested in this game? I stand by my original complaint about forcing the player to purchase what is normally a given in a metroidvania: the fucking map. If I had died even once before buying it on the most recent attempt I would have never played the game again. No, it is the game's directionless nature and its portable venue that are now keeping me from playing.

I really need a direction when I am playing a game. I need a goal, or a plot, or some reason to keep doing what I am doing. Think about the game's ancestors: in Symphony of the Night you are trying to kill Dracula. In Super Metroid you are trying to kill Mother Brain. In Guacamelee you are, um, something to do with hell and chickens, and lucha libre? Honestly, I don't remember, but I know there was some thread of plot pulling my forward.

Hollow Knight, at its outset, has no goal. No story. It has absolutely nothing outside of exploration and exploration along does not hold my interest. Why? Because how am I supposed to know when exploration is done? I know when a story is done or a boss has been killed or a task has been completed but how can I possible know when I am done exploring? Two hours in and Hollow Knight still had not offered up any narrative and it was getting hard to keep going.

Secondly, it is a rare game indeed that I can play on the Switch in handheld mode for any length of time. There has been one, Shovel Knight, and that was more out of necessity than desire. I just can't stare at the screen for any length of time.

Will I go back to Hollow Knight? Doubtful. It's window of interest has come and gone. Trying a third time would be almost as bad as replaying a game and that never happens.

1 comment:

  1. The exploration is done when you find all the things! Hollow Knight's complete lack of hand holding and its frankly brilliant world construction mean few players will complete it in the exact same way, by the same route ^.^