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Natural 20
Sep 17, 2007

So long, Ex-Ma Fergie!




Latest Episode



About the Game

Hollow Knight is a 2017 Metroidvania game published by Team Cherry. Garnering high praise on its release it is considered to be one of the most prolific and well regarded games of the modern era, with critics citing the incredible atmosphere the game develops as well as the tight controls and interesting exploration as reasons for its success.

I however, have managed to miss this gem, alongside, until as recently as a year and a half ago, all Metroidvania games. But really, what can one such as myself, which such scant experience say to describe Hollow Knight? Instead Iíll pass on to the one and only Yorkshire Tea for a more elaborate introduction:

From the Desk of Yorkshire Tea

Hollow Knight is somewhat of a milestone for us. Not only is it the culmination of the whirlwind tour of Metroidvanias I've dragged Nat on for over a year, but it's also the first game we've tackled together which really embodies the design philosophy of the current, "modern" gaming era.

We've looked at the two obvious progenitors of the genre - Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Super Metroid as well as Metroid Fusion, which, by placing a greater emphasis on active story elements, was a clear (and high-profile) indication that developers felt SotN's narrative innovations were worth emulating. Almost every subsequent Castlevania and Metroid title followed in these titles' footsteps, to say nothing of the countless games from other studios that pay homage. Some of them openly brand themselves as Metroidvanias, but even in those which don't the influences are clear.

The way I see it, a Metroidvania is a pure distillation, on a 2D plane, of the following basic gameplay elements:

1) How you move the thing

2) Where you move the thing

3) Why do you move the thing


With the added, crucial design tenet:

The player must be conscious of a sense of progress and accomplishment

An ideal Metroidvania, therefore, provides you with a character who is inherently fun to just move around and control, an engaging and interesting world to move them around in, and a compelling reason to do so. And by acquiring new gameplay elements (or movement options, if you want to really break it down), new parts of the world to explore and new story elements to consider, the player feels that they have made real, tangible progress. By making progress in the game, the world grows and develops for the player.

Not that any of this is unique to Metroidvanias, of course - just that the genre represents these elements in their purest form. Matter, motion and purpose. Hollow Knight excels in each of these: moving and attacking feels natural and satisfying, the world is memorable enough that eventually you don't even need the map to know where you are, and the storyline is full of moments and character interactions you won't soon forget.

Hollow Knight is not just modern in the sense that it builds upon the lessons taught by and learnt from nearly two decades' worth of Metroidvanias, and in doing so exceeds the sum of its parts, but also modern in very, very clearly taking inspiration from From Software's Souls games. Even as somebody who has only played Bloodborne, I can recognise how Demon's Souls and its successors have influenced the way players and developers look at video games. Uncompromising difficulty and oppressive environments are what most easily spring to mind, but there's other stuff there: an understated approach to worldbuilding that requires players to act as archaeologists, an understanding and appreciation of characterisation as conveyed in a few brief lines or a handful of unique animations. It's the small things that so often shine the brightest in the unforgiving worlds of Souls-likes. Without going into too much spoilery territory, Hollow Knight is good at this - really good at this.

For most people, what makes a Souls game is its insistence on the player mastering movement and attacking, and memorising both the environment and enemies' behaviour. We all know the drill: death is to be expected, and a necessary part of the learning curve. The penalty for death is losing your souls/blood/geo, and you can get it back if you're good enough. Save points are few and far between, and you respawn at them if you die. Progress is automatically saved if you die or quit, so no trying to cheat the system. Don't go expecting lots of cutscene-enforced invulnerability, because nearly everything happens in real time. The Souls influence on Hollow Knight in the gameplay department is very transparent, but to no detriment. Hollow Knight proves it can work in 2D and makes it its own thing. The environment and aesthetics of Hallownest are also very, very clearly inspired by Bloodborne - but again, Hollow Knight manages to own them instead of coming across like a glib imitation, thanks to its own unique and cohesive art style.

Ironically, the unrelenting difficulty of Souls games isn't really an innovation as it is a rediscovery, or at least reframing, of the difficulty found in early games, back when few titles in any genre made any friendly concessions to the player. The Souls games, and the many games they've inspired, are proof that there's a lot to be gained by going back and examining the design philosophies of the past. Very appropriate, perhaps, for Hollow Knight, a game all about delving ever deeper into ancient ruins and what lies beyond even that.

In short, Hollow Knight blends Metroidvanias and Souls-likes into one extremely enjoyable cocktail: here is a game which knows precisely what it wants to achieve and why, and looks back at everything which has come before it to know how to achieve it. Is it a truly original game, with no clear precedent? No. But such careful refinement of existing elements is rare enough these days as to be the nearest thing to originality.

As I'm sure the King of Hallownest would appreciate, nothing truly great is achieved without building upon the foundations laid by one's predecessors...

About the LP

This, as with many of our LPs will be a Guided Blind LP, where I will play with no foreknowledge of the game and Yorkshire Tea will guide me through the world, ensuring that I donít go too far astray. (Without good reason)

Episodes will release on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at around 23:00 BST, 18:00 EST with cheeky early episodes up on our Patreon.

Art and banners, will, as ever, be handled by the amazing Bifauxnen.

Episodes





























































Links

The LP Beach Cross Post Thread - In case you don't feel comfortable posting on the SA forums or need to view this outside of a paywall.

Our Patreon! - In case you want to support our LPs and see episodes early!

Natural 20 fucked around with this message at 22:20 on Jul 30, 2021

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Explopyro
Mar 18, 2018




Oh hey a game about bugs what are knights, with a vast array of equippable accessories. I know about those.

In all seriousness, I'm looking forward to seeing this. Something about the aesthetic and style of this game just never grabbed me, I could never convince myself to buy it and try it out (which is weird because it looks beautiful, it just didn't appeal to me I guess?). I've heard nothing but great things about this game, but I've seen barely any of it, because I kept trying to watch playthroughs and bouncing off after a video or two.

SirSamVimes
Jul 21, 2008

~* Challenge *~




Oh hell yes.

C-Euro
Mar 20, 2010



Soiled Meat

I've finally found it: an LP that will actually kill me.

pointlessone
Aug 6, 2001

The Triad Frog is pleased with this custom title purchase.

4 seconds after Nat gets control: {Walljump tests}

Oh here we goooooo

fractalairduct
Sep 26, 2015

I, Giorno Giovanna, have a dream!



I'm not sure how much this qualifies as a spoiler, so just to be on the safe side you will be able to get tools which make spike bouncing much easier.

Jen X
Sep 29, 2014

To bring light to the darkness, whether that darkness be ignorance, injustice, apathy, or stagnation.


I consider this the best metroidvania ever and probably the best non-Mario platformer ever, too. It's such a good game.

Black Robe
Sep 12, 2017

Generic Magic User




I am here for this, this game's whole vibe is great.

Dareon
Apr 6, 2009


I like Metroidvanias.

I don't like Soulslikes.

I love Hollow Knight.

While not the first game I've seen that tries to do the 2D Soulslike experience, it happens to be the one I've seen that's gotten the balance right. Aside from a few long runs from save point to boss room, everything feels tightly-designed and appropriate (With one very large and sharp exception).

Also it's all cute as hell.

Fantastic Foreskin
Jan 6, 2013

A golden helix streaked skyward from the Helvault. A thunderous explosion shattered the silver monolith and Avacyn emerged, free from her prison at last.



This, is going to be an experience.

Or maybe Nat's just gotten good at Metroidvanias by now. That's entirely possible.

Twelve by Pies
May 4, 2012

Again a very likpatous story


I don't mind pogoing in Ducktales because you just hold down the button but having to press it at the right time to bounce around like that is a solid nope from me.

SirSamVimes
Jul 21, 2008

~* Challenge *~




Pogoing off spikes is actually never required at all except for the Path of Pain (don't look at that spoiler nat 20) but it's definitely useful tech.

Speaking of useful things to know, every NPC had extra things to say if you talk to them more, some moreso than others.

Zernach
Oct 23, 2012


quote:

an understated approach to worldbuilding that requires players to act as archaeologists, an understanding and appreciation of characterisation as conveyed in a few brief lines or a handful of unique animations. It's the small things that so often shine the brightest in the unforgiving worlds of Souls-likes.
One of the little animations things I love the most in Hollow Knight is the fact how the bipedal bugs curl their limbs up when they die. It's a neat little thing to emphasize the fact that these beings are bugs.

And it's just so cute in a morbid way

C-Euro
Mar 20, 2010



Soiled Meat

SirSamVimes posted:

Speaking of useful things to know, every NPC had extra things to say if you talk to them more, some moreso than others.

And sometimes if you talk to them from different directions! Vendors in particular will all do this.

Natural 20
Sep 17, 2007

So long, Ex-Ma Fergie!


Dareon
Apr 6, 2009


One of you made oblique mention of how odd it would be for someone specifically seeking out this blind playthrough for their first exposure to the game, and, well, this is my second exposure. Haven't played it myself, just picked up an LP from another channel I was following. And that one was a blind run, too.

You're playing better than he was, too. Tea's incredulity at dealing with the giant club-bug with barely any damage was well deserved.

fractalairduct
Sep 26, 2015

I, Giorno Giovanna, have a dream!



SirSamVimes posted:

Pogoing off spikes is actually never required at all except for the Path of Pain (don't look at that spoiler nat 20) but it's definitely useful tech.

You're forgetting the centipede gauntlet in Deepnest.

Alxprit
Feb 7, 2015

A lady after my own Soul-Heart.

I'm really good at Hollow Knight after playing it for a long time but I wasn't this good starting out. I can't wait to see what will end up challenging him because it's surely going to be something seemingly innocuous at this point.

Rappaport
Oct 2, 2013


fractalairduct posted:

You're forgetting the centipede gauntlet in Deepnest.

It's not strictly speaking necessary, and similarly don't you have to nail-pogo in Greenpath to get to one of the sword masters? Or does the crystal warp drive make that redundant? It's been awhile

SirSamVimes
Jul 21, 2008

~* Challenge *~




fractalairduct posted:

You're forgetting the centipede gauntlet in Deepnest.

That's pogoing off an enemy. Completely different.

White Coke
May 29, 2015


Dareon posted:

One of you made oblique mention of how odd it would be for someone specifically seeking out this blind playthrough for their first exposure to the game, and, well, this is my second exposure. Haven't played it myself, just picked up an LP from another channel I was following.

Same.

Like Tea, I really want to play Bugborne though.

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


Ah, this is going to be amazing.

BTW, Fury of the Fallen only works at 1 mask. Good luck!

Zack Ater
Apr 17, 2013

I am protector of the innocent! I am the light in the darkness! I am truth! Ally to good! Nightmare to you!



Oh hell yes. I really enjoyed the Fusion LP and I'm quite excited for this one. This is one of my favorite games.

Commander Keene
Dec 21, 2016

This avatar helped buy Lowtax a new back.



Dareon posted:

One of you made oblique mention of how odd it would be for someone specifically seeking out this blind playthrough for their first exposure to the game, and, well, this is my second exposure. Haven't played it myself, just picked up an LP from another channel I was following. And that one was a blind run, too.

You're playing better than he was, too. Tea's incredulity at dealing with the giant club-bug with barely any damage was well deserved.
I'm more blind than Nat is, considering he's stated he played some of the game before. All I knew about Hollow Knight before I opened the first video in this LP is that it's a Metroidvania starring bugs, it's supposedly hard as balls, and there's a mod that adds a gun to the game.

Natural 20
Sep 17, 2007

So long, Ex-Ma Fergie!


Commander Keene posted:

I'm more blind than Nat is, considering he's stated he played some of the game before. All I knew about Hollow Knight before I opened the first video in this LP is that it's a Metroidvania starring bugs, it's supposedly hard as balls, and there's a mod that adds a gun to the game.

On this briefly, after the first video I'm completely blind to the game. I really didn't play much the first time before deciding that it wasn't for me.

Natural 20
Sep 17, 2007

So long, Ex-Ma Fergie!


EggsAisle
Dec 17, 2013

I get it! You're, uh...

I have complicated opinions about this game. There's a lot about it I really like, and it's mostly the things that have been praised already- visuals, sound design, controls, mood, etc. It's all really, really good. Actually it's excellent, most games aren't half as inspired. And I love the Metroidvania genre, so Hollow Knight was definitely in my wheelhouse. Steam says I've put 40.3 hours into it, which sounds about right, and for the most part I had fun. But I never finished it, and I probably won't pick it up again.

I feel a little sad reading the essay in the OP, because I agree with so much of it, and it started off really great for me too! But then the wheels came off as I got into the later game. I must have missed some crucial clues or dialogue or encounters or something, because 40 hours in the game I didn't have any clearer a picture of what was going on than 4 hours in. I didn't know who my character was or why I was here. I felt like characters either kept mistaking me for someone else, or rambled on about whatever like I wasn't even there, or were shopkeepers. About halfway through my playtime, I started following a guide to make sure I wasn't missing areas or lore tidbits or whatever, but it didn't really help. Maybe it even made it worse because of detail overload? And I like mysteries and understated stories, but eventually this one just ran out of gas on me and wasn't sustaining my interest. Vague cryptic mumblings are fun and atmospheric, but if there's no coherence at all, anywhere? It just feels like a weird fever dream.

As for the gameplay... yeah, it got too difficult for me. Dying to a boss 50 times is part of the experience, but once you get good enough, it's satisfying to finally win, right? I got to the point where I finally beat a boss and felt a sweet rush of... exhaustion and demoralization. I didn't feel like I'd gotten better, I felt like RNG just hadn't sent as many 99% undodgeable attacks my way this time. And then I thought about doing it all over again for the next boss, and the one after that, and... meh. I distinctly remember thinking "This... is really unenjoyable" to myself. So I stopped playing.

And that sucked a ton of rear end! Because there's so much in this game that's excellent! But man, I put up with enough poo poo in my life telling me I'm stupid and incompetent, I need something else from games. I'm looking forward to this LP, and I hope you don't burn out like I did.

pointlessone
Aug 6, 2001

The Triad Frog is pleased with this custom title purchase.

EggsAisle posted:

I have complicated opinions about this game. There's a lot about it I really like, and it's mostly the things that have been praised already- visuals, sound design, controls, mood, etc. It's all really, really good. Actually it's excellent, most games aren't half as inspired. And I love the Metroidvania genre, so Hollow Knight was definitely in my wheelhouse. Steam says I've put 40.3 hours into it, which sounds about right, and for the most part I had fun. But I never finished it, and I probably won't pick it up again.

I feel a little sad reading the essay in the OP, because I agree with so much of it, and it started off really great for me too! But then the wheels came off as I got into the later game. I must have missed some crucial clues or dialogue or encounters or something, because 40 hours in the game I didn't have any clearer a picture of what was going on than 4 hours in. I didn't know who my character was or why I was here. I felt like characters either kept mistaking me for someone else, or rambled on about whatever like I wasn't even there, or were shopkeepers. About halfway through my playtime, I started following a guide to make sure I wasn't missing areas or lore tidbits or whatever, but it didn't really help. Maybe it even made it worse because of detail overload? And I like mysteries and understated stories, but eventually this one just ran out of gas on me and wasn't sustaining my interest. Vague cryptic mumblings are fun and atmospheric, but if there's no coherence at all, anywhere? It just feels like a weird fever dream.

As for the gameplay... yeah, it got too difficult for me. Dying to a boss 50 times is part of the experience, but once you get good enough, it's satisfying to finally win, right? I got to the point where I finally beat a boss and felt a sweet rush of... exhaustion and demoralization. I didn't feel like I'd gotten better, I felt like RNG just hadn't sent as many 99% undodgeable attacks my way this time. And then I thought about doing it all over again for the next boss, and the one after that, and... meh. I distinctly remember thinking "This... is really unenjoyable" to myself. So I stopped playing.

And that sucked a ton of rear end! Because there's so much in this game that's excellent! But man, I put up with enough poo poo in my life telling me I'm stupid and incompetent, I need something else from games. I'm looking forward to this LP, and I hope you don't burn out like I did.
This right here is why I absolutely love Hades, and hope it sets an entire new trend in gaming. God Mode's progressive +2% damage reduction per death made it possible for me to not only beat the game, but actually feel like wasn't hitting a brick wall. No judgement, no mocking, just toggle it on and you still get to enjoy the game.

Games are the only form of entertainment that has a skill check in order to continue enjoying them. They don't hand out a test at the end of the first hill on a roller coaster and kick you off if you can't solve the math problem for why it works.. No one goes to a movie expecting to be handed a button that needs to be pressed in an exact sequence or the scene repeats until everyone in the theater gets it right. Bands don't stop a concert because someone in the back is singing out of tune.

Games do this.

Can't beat the Capra Demon? Don't have time to grind for 20 levels just to handle the end game bosses? Didn't buy the guide for Final Fantasy 9 and want to find secrets on your own? Sorry, your ride ends here.

More games need a shame free "busy adult" mode. My reflexes were never fast and the years haven't helped. Put in a tourist/story mode that has no penalty. If your game is intentionally hard, put in some sort of optional safety net. I paid for the entire game, it's your job as a good designer/developer to figure out how you're going to help get your customer through it. Don't give me poo poo because I'm playing on easy. That's the professor saying "only x number of people will pass this class". If there's less than 50% of your players who have gotten the game cleared achievement, you haven't created a masterpiece. You've screwed people out of money and enjoyment and failed as a designer.

I wanted to love this game for all the same reasons as above, but my skills as a player crapped out before my refund timer was up on Steam.

Rappaport
Oct 2, 2013


Aww, you missed the Mystery of the Mace Also, Natural20 is just killing it so far, hot dang! I am curious to see what the reaction will be if and when he ends up buying the Geo catcher charm.

Dareon
Apr 6, 2009


"Don't throw a tantrum just 'cause I'm hitting you!" Don't tell Mum, you're fine, I didn't hit you that hard.

e: "We'll have to think of some pun-based Tube names." Elephant Beetle and Castle. Aphidgate. Earwig's Court. Bromley-by-Bug. Queensbeery.

Dareon fucked around with this message at 11:22 on Mar 23, 2021

90s Cringe Rock
Nov 29, 2006



Mornington Crescant

Black Robe
Sep 12, 2017

Generic Magic User




90s Cringe Rock posted:

Mornington Crescant

The lovely Samantha approves of this reference.

C-Euro
Mar 20, 2010



Soiled Meat

Three instances in this video where I shouted "no you fool!" at my screen, LP living up to my expectations.

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


Dareon posted:

e: "We'll have to think of some pun-based Tube names." Elephant Beetle and Castle. Aphidgate. Earwig's Court. Bromley-by-Bug. Queensbeery.

All those names are unbeelievable.

Zernach
Oct 23, 2012


C-Euro posted:

Three instances in this video where I shouted "no you fool!" at my screen, LP living up to my expectations.

It was the shopping, right?

going to spoiler this just in case: Gathering Swarm sooths my pennypinching soul, not a single geo lost to spikes

Marluxia
May 8, 2008


Zernach posted:

It was the shopping, right?

going to spoiler this just in case: Gathering Swarm sooths my pennypinching soul, not a single geo lost to spikes

That was physically painful to watch, especially after the useless pins like the blue cocoons and the hot springs being bought instead.

Alxprit
Feb 7, 2015

A lady after my own Soul-Heart.

Soul Catcher is a good badge and I'm pretty sure I use it for the entire game. Why buy something you won't slot in?

Though he probably should have at least bought one of the things that lets you make map marks for future refrenence instead of one of the less useful icons.

C-Euro
Mar 20, 2010



Soiled Meat

Zernach posted:

It was the shopping, right?

going to spoiler this just in case: Gathering Swarm sooths my pennypinching soul, not a single geo lost to spikes

Nah it was traversal stuff, namely not unlocking routes that were right there for the unlocking (and that you had seen!). It'll get fixed eventually.

White Coke
May 29, 2015


My favorite part of visiting London was laughing hysterically because of jet lag every time the Tube announcer said "Cockfosters".

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Natural 20
Sep 17, 2007

So long, Ex-Ma Fergie!


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