Elden Ring gave me 100% confidence in Hollow Knight

I didn’t hit Hollow Knight on my first playthrough in 2018. I didn’t even come close. I’ve never attempted to fight the Dreamers and have barely made it through some of the Warrior Dream fights, let alone the Dream Nail variants of slain bosses. I nodded from Deepnest thanks to a lingering fear of spiders that kept me screaming and dropping my Switch like a hot potato. I got completely lost (and totally disgusted) fighting the Flukemarm, Royal Waterways’ huge, grunt-spitting boss, and ended up dropping out of the game altogether.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about my time in Hallownest – the sad little bugs and their shabby kingdom, Myla’s haunting mining song, or Bretta’s sweet blush. With 30 hours under my belt, I explained Hollow Knight one of my favorite games and became the person who doesn’t shut up. (Writing this is my penance.) I could always come back to this, I told myself. But I didn’t. Instead, I put the game aside for four years—until elden ringand its extensive online community, finally inspired me to take it up again.

A small bug named The Knight sits next to a caterpillar-like bug Bretta on the Forgotten Crossroads bench in the game Hollow Knight. Bretta blushes.

Image: Team Cherry via Polygon

I’m usually an exploration, puzzle and platformer video game lover. While other Metroidvanias often make a player double back, Hollow KnightThe interwoven regions of create the impression of constant, albeit clumsy, forward movement. I became obsessed with the various hidden entrances. Bosses were a thrill; Defeating them came with excellent rewards, like access to new areas or adding a new spell to my collection. But they also intimidated me, so I tended to leave optional bosses behind. Given the game’s intimidating reputation, I didn’t feel like I could truly defeat them – I was content to simply enjoy the elegant dance of the Mantis Lords’ attacks while accepting that I was being outdone.

I’ve mostly been dashing and slashing through regions, listening for maggot calls and randomly updating my growing map. I would dodge sections whenever possible to avoid the need to heal rather than gather soul (the game version of mana used for healing or casting). A typical combat attempt looked like this: Return to the Soul Sanctum to awaken the Soul Master with my trusty dream nail. Having a really dirty walk of battle. Taking hikes to the nearest bank to try another spell charge being held back by my relatively limited collection. Go on. That’s how I played in the beginning too elden ring. Explore first, fight later. I missed Castle Stormveil by running around the perimeter, right into Liurnia of the Lakes, through a rain of projectiles from a giant lobster and into the loving hands of death.

Meanwhile, the game’s enemies exerted a strange pull on me. Of course, I had to fight them to get runes and level up – but I also noticed how these creatures fit into the game’s storytelling. Dealing with bosses revealed even more of the world’s dense, otherwise unfathomable lore. And the Reddit community made me feel like I could beat them (though maybe not Malenia) if I just found the right weapons and messed around with the right build. In the subreddit, players discussed bleed builds and rune farming. I’ve expanded my horizons beyond Glintstone Pebble and upgraded my Spirit Ashes.

Finally beating Margit was the ultimate boost: I could do it and me want Do it again with the next boss. Each successive enemy rewarded me with tasty morsels of lore and storytelling, and I began to love it elden ring‘s large cast of fearsome weirdos. It took research and elbow grease, but it was possible. So I thought about other games with bosses that I’d summarily avoided – and one immediately rose to the top of the pile. I decided it was time to return to my favorite Metroidvania for a second take. See fans describe on Reddit Hollow Knight being “Soulslike” only strengthened my resolve.

A little bug, The Knight, talks to a mosquito named Cornifer, who marks a map. Cornifer says, “My name is Cornifer and I've always loved exploring the world. The first time I hatched I ran away, leaving my brothers and sisters and my poor mother behind!”

Image: Team Cherry via Polygon

I jumped nails first back to Hallownest. I hear Iselda first hmmm, bapanada felt like a warm blanket. I decided then and there that I wasn’t just going to poke around every corner of the game’s map – I was going to assassinate every single boss (with respect, of course). To pull it off, I’d have to vary my approach with different charms and nail upgrades. I optimistically decided that I would try to get a 100% run (although maybe not 106% or 112% as is possible when playing to a certain ending, as well as DLCs) just for a specific goal to have.

I do not know if elden ring improved my skills. If anything, years of platforming had helped me sharpen the sharp knife of observation and pattern recognition. Most of the time, the game gave me the stubborn stubbornness and sheer rage to keep trying, death for death. How many times have I watched this guy rip off a dragon’s head just to put it on his arm? I’ve heard people say that FromSoftware games helped them build patience, but that wasn’t exactly the case for me. Most of time, elden ring made me a person who could find humor in horror – lest I despair at being repeatedly impaled by birds with knife feet.

elden ring taught me how to play Hollow Knight rather strategic. It started with little things like sticking to my color-coded system of scarab markers, scouring every inch of the map for spells and upgrades, and really customizing for different boss fights. This time I knew I had to anticipate Deepnest’s creepy crawlies. And that after 80 hours elden ringI was able to find a campy humor in the region’s hidden boss with his disarming skitters and leaps.

A small bug, The Knight, looks at a larger bug - a cicada with a hood over its head - named Cloth. Cloth says,

Image: Team Cherry via Polygon

I also refused to be intimidated – I had lost thousands of runes in it elden ringand Hollow KnightThe ‘s geo “currency” felt like much lower stakes. I followed each Dream Nail boss variant and made my way to the White Palace. I gave Geo Millibelle the banker (if you know, you knows), learned Sly’s backstory, fought the Collector, and found the Stag’s Nest. I stumbled upon the Watcher Knights by accident – I wouldn’t recommend that – and spent half a day knocking them out. Each of these characters opened up more of the world story. And scouring the game’s map helped me uncover even more of its mysteries. I had barely explored the Abyss or the Queen’s Gardens on my first playthrough – this time witnessing my own origin story as well as the ending of Cloth’s story.

Playing these games side by side has given me a new appreciation for the richness of their worlds and the twisted elegance of their boss designs. I may always be primarily motivated by exploration, but I now look forward to boss fights instead of dreading them – victory pays off in satisfaction and storytelling. I peruse tiered boss difficulty rankings on the subreddit and giggle when I see Primal Aspids in the “Primal ASSpid” column and Zote in his own “Zote” tier. I’m trying to let that excitement carry me through my remaining assignments: The Trial of the Coliseum Against the Fool, The Path of Pain – and maybe, one day, Godhome and The Grimm Troupe. I don’t know if I’ll beat her, but that won’t stop me from trying.

https://www.polygon.com/23297244/elden-ring-hollow-knight-completion Elden Ring gave me 100% confidence in Hollow Knight

Charles Jones

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