For #9 of my list, we have the debut game from an Indie studio that was one of the strongest entries from a new company.
Hollow Knight is another example of just how surprising the level of quality and polish we can see outside of the AAA side of the industry. Developed by Team Cherry, the game was an immediate eye opener thanks to its heavy line aesthetic and beautiful character design.
Gameplay-wise, Hollow Knight was one of the harder metroidvanias for some. The fact that your health could only be regenerated while standing still lead to some tense standoffs with the game’s many bosses.
Hollow Knight had all the staples of a great metroidvania, with a number of new abilities unlocked that radically changed how you played. The final area of the game before the real last boss was one of the most challenging platforming sections seen this year. The ability to add trinkets that changed your character offered some customization to your character.
Since release, the game has been expanded on with DLC, but I haven’t had a chance to go back to this world. Speaking of which, the world design was amazing and reminded me of Dark Souls in the “show don’t tell” style.
Ultimately what keeps this from being higher on the list was that the game just didn’t do too much in terms of standing out from other metroidvanias from a design perspective. The middle of the game just kind of blurred together, and there were several big parts of me wandering around without any idea as to where to go. Similar to Dark Souls, this was a game where one missed path could have you completely missing an entirely new area. Once you got used to the game’s combat and movement systems, it fell into the trap of becoming repetitive.
Still, this being the first game from the team was highly impressive, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing great things form them in the future.
Coming up next for #8, we have a late entry on the list.
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