The World Design of Hollow Knight | Boss Keys

The World Design of Hollow Knight | Boss Keys


If you were a fan of Metroidvania games, then
2010 was a very difficult year. On the one side, we got Metroid: Other M – a
game that paid lip service to exploration and isolation, but was way more interested
in action-packed fights, cringe-worthy cutscenes, and excessive handholding. And on the other side, after six cracking
Castlevania adventures on handhelds, we got Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – a knockabout
brawler that took most of its inspiration from God of War, and had only the lightest
hint of exploration. It looked like the Metroidvania was dead. Except, it really wasn’t. Because while Nintendo and Konami were about
to drop off for a decade-long slumber with their respective franchises, other developers
– especially smaller indie studios – were starting to try their hand at the Metroidvania
formula. Cave Story, Aquaria, and Shadow Complex were
early attempts to follow that recipe of locked doors, new abilities, grid-like map systems,
and secret items. And since then we’ve seen games as varied
as Strider, Axiom Verge, the Shantae games, Toki Tori 2, Guacamelee, Headlander,
and Ori and the Blind Forest. But none of these games would quite prepare
us for one that was released in 2017. This is a masterpiece, with crunchy combat
against imaginative boss monsters, crushing Dark Souls-esque difficulty spikes, a deep
well of lore that would launch several YouTube careers, and – most important of all – an
elegantly designed, interconnected world that is just a joy to get lost in. So this is Boss Keys, and today – join me on
a deep dive into the world design of Hollow Knight. Hollow Knight takes place in the sprawling
kingdom of Hallownest. The game begins in Dirtmouth: a fading town
with a few shops and visiting adventurers. Beneath that lies the Forgotten Crossroads,
which – as the name might suggest – connects up to many areas in the game, including the
leafy suburbs of Greenpath, the deadly mines of Crystal Peak, the acidic Fog Canyon, and
the noxious caverns of the Fungal Wastes. In the very depths of Hallownest you’ll
find the pitch-black labyrinth of Deepnest, and the mysterious Ancient Basin. While in the furthest corners you’ll discover
the graveyard, called the Resting Grounds, the Howling Cliffs, and the lush greenhouse
of the Queen’s Gardens. And at the kingdom’s edge you’ll find
the, uh, Kingdom’s Edge – which also connects to The Hive. All of these areas surround the enormous capital
of Hallownest: the endlessly-drenched City of Tears, and its Royal Waterways sewer system. Together, these 15 different zones create
a jigsaw of neatly fitting puzzles pieces. Now, each area is visibly distinct. There’s no confusing the pink gems of Crystal
Peak with the leafy green walls of Greenpath, or the candlelit blue walls of the Forgotten
Crossroads, or the muted greys of the Ancient Basin. It’s especially helpful that the colour
of each area matches the colours on the map. This all makes it easy to keep these areas
separately catalogued in your brain box, enormously helping with navigation and spatial reasoning. But you’ll also find gameplay differences
in each zone, which keeps them fresh and varied. That includes bouncing on trampoline shrooms
in the Fungal Wastes, dodging laser beams in the Crystal Peak, and peering through the
darkness in Deepnest. Some areas, like the Kingdom’s Edge, are
vertical in nature – while others, like the Royal Waterways, are stretched out highways. And there are also unique enemies in each
zone – like exploding bugs in Greenpath, kamikaze jellyfish in Fog Canyon, icky spiders in Deepnest,
and cute bee-lets in The Hive – which makes every zone feel brand new. When we first drop into Hallownest, we’re
not exactly given any real goal or direction. This first cutscene shows a lone wanderer
– the mysterious Knight – just kinda rocking up to the kingdom and jumping on in. But we are given some vague hints about where
to go. The Elderbug in Dirtmouth tells us to head
on down. And this sign in the west end of the Forgotten
Crossroads points towards “the city at this kingdom’s heart” – a place where “all
wishes shall be granted, all truths revealed”, apparently. Sounds like a good place to check out, if
only it wasn’t guarded by an invincible armour-plated beetle. Something Hollow Knight does well is to hint
at upcoming areas with one room that shares that zone’s visual identity – like the rooms
in the Forgotten Crossroads that have leaves from Greenpath, or gems from Crystal Peak. This is a great way of teasing future content
– and lodging that place in the player’s brain as somewhere worth returning to. In the centre of the Forgotten Crossroads
is a big ol’ boss called the False Knight – and behind him is our first power-up: the
Vengeful Spirit, which is a sort of Hadouken-style blast. In the tutorial for this new ability we use
it to defeat another armour-plated beetle, reminding us to return to that corridor, and
make progress to Greenpath. This is a Metroidvania after all – so expect
to find locks and keys. Here, in Greenpath, we meet Hornet: who keeps dashing
just out of view – and acts like a carrot-on-a-stick to lure us over to the west side of the area. There, we’ll summarily dispatch Hornet – hopefully,
she’s pretty tough – and get the second upgrade: the Mothwing Cloak. This lets us dash in mid-air, granting access
to the Fungal Wastes. We’re still being teased by that city – thanks
to literal signposts that point the way down. And Hornet does her little carrot-on-a-stick
routine once again, as she darts towards the city’s entrance. Not that you can follow her, mind you, due
to the bridge being down. So instead, we enter the Mantis Village, and
find the next power-up: the Mantis Claw. This allows us to scale up walls and is the
perfect ability to get us past that bridge and – finally – into the City of Tears. So, at this point, Hollow Knight seems quite
linear. We’re following a standard sequence of upgrades
and boss fights, and following a critical path through Hallownest. But if the game’s developers were leading
us to the city by the hand – if only quite subtly, with vague clues and in-world signposts
– then this is the point where they let go. At the centre of the city, we’ll meet Hornet
once again – and she’ll tell us to visit “the grave in ash”, but there’s no indication
of where that is. And while the fountain actually puts a marker
on our map for the first time in the game – it’s for the Black Egg Temple back in
the Forgotten Crossroads, which is somewhere we’ve already been, and that thing’s locked
up tight. So the question is – where to next? Let me back up a bit. If we look at the map of Hallownest, and reveal
how much of the world we can explore at each point in the game, we can see that our initial
reach is limited to just Dirtmouth and the Forgotten Crossroads. After we get the Vengeful Spirit, we can go
a smidge further, into Greenpath and the Fog Canyon. And the Mothwing Cloak reveals a tiny bit
more for us to see still, letting us into the Fungal Wastes. But as soon as we have the Mantis Claw, the
map is massively unveiled to us – we can go to the City of Tears, of course, and – provided
we’ve found a Simple Key – the Royal Waterways. We can pop up to the Howling Cliffs, descend
into Deepnest, or check out the Ancient Basin. We can even reach the Resting Grounds. And if we discover the Tram Pass in Deepnest,
we can also visit the Kingdom’s Edge. And this was definitely a deliberate choice
by the game’s developers. I spoke to Ari Gibson and William Pellen from
Team Cherry over email, who told me this: “we started with a basic, linear progression
of item acquirement, with the idea that we would allow that progression to break apart,
branch out and wind around itself as the world grew.” So while our journey has been quite constrained
up until now, there’s suddenly a bunch of different things we can do all at once. We can go fight the Dung Defender in the Royal
Waterways, which lets us flip a mysterious switch. Or we could challenge the Mantis Lords, to
open up access to Deepnest. Or we could go fight the Soul Master in the
City of Tears, and get his handy Desolate Dive ability. That lets us into the Crystal Peak, and allows
us to pick up the Crystal Heart: a sort of bonkers jet-powered super dash, which opens
up a lot more areas. That includes a place in the Ancient Basin
where we fight the Broken Vessel and get the double jumpin’ Monarch Wings. And also an area in the Royal Waterways, where
– provided we hit that switch earlier – we can pick up Isma’s Tear, which lets us splash
about in acid water. So, by opening up the world in such a dramatic
fashion, Team Cherry doesn’t actually need to lead you by the hand anymore. Because if there are loads of different things
to find all over the map – the player will likely stumble upon something important, no
matter which direction they take. Now, I should say that after entering the
City of Tears, the developers ideally want you to go fight the Soul Master and get the
Desolate Dive ability. They even slam the city’s gates shut behind
you – and the only way back through is to smash through this floor with – you guessed
it – the Desolate Dive. This is a classic Metroidvania trick of locking
the door behind the player, so they don’t back out without finding the necessary goodies. But something you should know about the world
design of Hallownest is that there’s always more than one way to go. For example – remember when I said you need
to fight the Mantis Lords to gain access to Deepnest? Well, not necessarily – because if you find
this semi-secret path in the Fungal Wastes, you can get to Deepnest from there and bypass
that boss fight altogether – providing two routes to the same place. Also, you can get to east side of the City
of Tears through the Royal Waterways. Or by taking a lift down from the Resting
Grounds. Or by taking the tram from Deepnest to the
Ancient Basin, and climbing back up to the city from there. Or you could even come in via the Kingdom’s
Edge. That’s four routes to the same place. The Crystal Peak is another key area for this. For starters, there are multiple routes through
this zone when getting to the Crystal Heart, allowing us to skip this Crystal Guardian
boss fight altogether if we so wish. And there’s two routes into the mine itself. Before, I mentioned using the Desolate Dive
to smash through this floor – but there’s also this pitch-black and seemingly inaccessible
room in the Forgotten Crossroads. Come back with the Lumafly Lantern from the
shop in Dirtmouth, though, and you’ll be able to see that there’s actually a gate
in that room. Once unlocked, you’ll get access to the
Crystal Peak. And if you’ve got the Mantis Claw, you can
even hop up and get the Crystal Heart, meaning you can bypass the Soul Master and his Desolate
Dive pick-up altogether, if you so wish. The explorable area following the Mantis Claw
actually looks like this, then. In fact, because you can reach this dark room
at the very start of the game, you can theoretically enter the Crystal Peak before getting the
game’s very first power-up: the Vengeful Spirit. Though, at 1,800 Geo, the lamp is rather expensive
and will be hard to save up for at this very early stage in the adventure. It’s an interesting example of a what we
might call a “soft lock”, though: a route through a game that isn’t physically inaccessible
to the player, but will turn most adventurers away at this early stage because they’re
not yet strong enough, don’t have enough knowledge, or – in this case – don’t have
enough cash. So while the door to the City of Tears does
shut tight behind you, there’s plenty of creative ways out of the city that don’t require
the Desolate Dive ability. Providing multiple routes through the game
certainly allows you to pick your own path during the adventure – which is perfect for
second playthroughs, speed-runs, low percentage challenges – and most importantly of all – a
feeling of legitimate agency. Because – similar to games like Dark Souls
and the very first Metroid and Zelda games – the route through the game is dictated by
your own curiosity and sense of adventure. But this is also a wonderful way to stop the
player from getting stuck. Like: think about the Grapple Hook in Super
Metroid. It can be used to access loads of places around
Zebes but most of them just lead to inessential upgrades like the Wave Beam and Energy Tanks
– so let’s call these optional locks. Only one Grapple Hook point actually allows
further progress through the game, towards the Wrecked Ship – so we might call that a
critical lock. And so while you’re certainly going to get
loads of cool goodies to upgrade Samus, it does mean that if you can’t find that one
single critical lock, you’re going to be stuck. In Hollow Knight, though, things are a bit
different. Like, after getting the Mothwing Cloak from
Hornet in Greenpath, there are loads of places to use it. Some lead to handy pick ups. But also, you can dash up here in the Fog
Canyon’s Queen Station, and dash up here in the bottom of the Forgotten Crossroads
– and both lead you to the Fungal Wastes, and continue your adventure towards the Mantis
Village. Having two critical locks instead of one dramatically
increases your chances of making progress through the game. Because whether you remember some past blocked-off
area and decide to backtrack to it with your new power-up, or you just continue adventuring
onwards and hope to stumble upon the next part of the game – you’re much more likely
to make progress if there’s more than one critical lock to find. This is a technique that’s used to great
effect in the Resting Grounds. Some players will drop down into the area
from this chasm in the Crystal Peak. But others might, instead, find the Tram Pass
in Deepnest and ride a train car from the Forgotten Crossroads over to the Resting Grounds. They might take a lift up from the east end
of the City of Tears, and reach the Resting Grounds from underneath. Or they might get to that same entranceway,
but by using the Crystal Dash to get to the Blue Lake. That’s four completely different paths to
the same area – using all sorts of different abilities and routes. And it can be accessed from the very start
of the game, if you take that route through the pitch-black room I discussed earlier. But this is all for a reason. The Resting Grounds is actually the “grave
in ash” that Hornet spoke of back in the City of Tears, and it’s one of the most
important areas in the game because it finally gives us an actual goal – we need to take
this Dream Nail and use it to wake up three sleeping sentries: Herrah the Beast, Lurien
the Watcher, and Monomon the Teacher. So by having all sorts of different ways into
the Resting Grounds, Team Cherry can be sure that players will almost certainly get there
eventually – but they don’t have to be led by the hand using signposts, directions, or
map markers. Instead, you just get that wonderful feeling
of “accidentally” stumbling upon something really important. Team Cherry says it tried to avoid using too
much signposting because it would be “to the detriment of many players who, through
initially being lost, find their own ways and begin to learn the layout of the kingdom
on a much more personal level”. There is one exception to that, though: when
you look at this statue in the Resting Ground, the dreamer’s masks are drawn onto your
map, marking the location of these characters. And normally, I’d be kind of against this
sort of overt and gamey direction. However, this turns out to be less of a bunch
of nagging waypoint markers and more of a gentle reminder of what your overall goal
actually is. Because, your map is likely so uncharted that these
masks are just floating in an unhelpful sea of black, and you almost certainly don’t
have all the abilities to actually reach these dreamers yet. Herrah, for example, is hidden away in her
den in the furthest corner of Deepnest. You’ll need the Mantis Claw to get in there,
and the Lumafly Lantern to actually see what you’re doing. Lurien is high atop his spire, overlooking
the City of Tears, and can’t be reached without the Monarch Wings. And you’ll need to defeat the Watcher Knights
at his door. And Monomon’s kipping in her archive in
the Fog Canyon, which is blocked off unless you have Isma’s Tear. You’re also going to have to dispatch the
rather familiar looking boss, Uumuu. So while the masks on your map might point
out the final destinations, they don’t tell you anything about the many stops you’ll
need to make along the way. There’s one final way that Team Cherry allows
you to dictate your own path through the game, and that’s by allowing, encouraging, and
even designing in tricks that allow you to get past obstacles without the necessary upgrades. Similar to tricks like the wall jump in Super Metroid. So you can use the kickback blast of the Vengeful
Spirit to propel yourself to areas that would normally require the Mothwing Cloak. You can use the Crystal Heart to bypass bits
that need Isma’s Tear. And most disruptive of all, you can bounce
off background decorations and flying enemies with the nail to give you an extra lift – and
render the Monarch Wings technically optional. Now that’s what I call exploiting a bug! Team Cherry told me that “we knew players
would be able to sequence break using the nail bounce technique, and we absolutely wanted
them to be able to do so. Watching players discover new routes is a
huge joy for us and is a really empowering moment for a player.” “We even placed certain enemies and objects
to allow some shortcuts” – though, they admit that “the Hollow Knight community
has uncovered many more skips that we’d never considered ourselves”. One spot in the Kingdom’s Edge had to be
fixed in a patch, as it was possible to get yourself stuck if you managed to access it
before acquiring the Monarch Wings. With all three dreamers awake, we can now
finally enter the Black Egg Temple in the Forgotten Crossroads, fight the, ahem, final
boss: Hollow Knight, and ahem, finish the game. Now while I normally like to use graphs to
explain the structure of Metroidvania games on Boss Keys, it’s not really possible with
Hollow Knight. So much stuff can be be skipped, or done in
different ways, or reached from different directions, that creating a single, monolithic
chart for the game’s structure is just not possible. I can show you one route through the game,
though, which at least reveals the general shape of things. Essentially, a linear corridor of upgrades
and boss fights, which dramatically fans out to a wide open matrix of non-linear possibilities. Including the ability to pick up game-changing
abilities simultaneously – which is something you don’t usually see in Metroidvanias,
because they often dictate a more set-in-stone sequence of getting one item after another. But Team Cherry says “we wanted players
to feel like their journey through the kingdom was their own, and part of that was removing
barriers or opening paths to allow acquiring items or powers ‘out of order’.” Of course, this graph has a million different
permutations. You can skip the Mantis Lords and the Crystal
Guardian with careful navigation of the map, get the Dream Nail much earlier in the game,
reach the Crystal Heart without the Desolate Dive, and so on. But beyond that, there’s so much more that
this graph doesn’t even begin to cover. For starters, while I’ve already talked
about the bosses that are standing between you and the game’s credits – there’s also
bunch of completely hidden bosses that have no impact on the structure of the game whatsoever. There’s the Brooding Mawlek, who’s in
a hard-to-reach room in the Forgotten Crossroads. The Collector, who can’t be found unless
you get the Love Key from the Queen’s Gardens. The Enraged Guardian, who’s hiding in a
secret room above the other Guardian’s boss area. The Flukemarm, who can only be found if you
use the Desolate Dive in the Royal Waterways. And Nosk, in Deepnest, who can only be reached
with either the Crystal Heart or the Monarch Wings. There’s also the Hive Knight in, I’ll let you guess,
but he’s exclusive to the Lifeblood DLC. And there are more bosses beyond these. At the Kingdom’s Edge, you’ll find the
Colosseum of Fools – which is a non-stop combat gauntlet, with a handful of unique bosses. And the seven Warrior Dreams, who are ghostly
spirits that are are guarding their gravesites, and can be challenged to a dual after you
acquire the Dream Nail. And dream variants of the Broken Vessel, False
Knight, and Soul Master bosses – which are like super hard remixes of those fights. Two more come in the Hidden Dreams DLC, as
well. Ultimately, it is quite incredible to stumble
down some random hallway, and not just uncover a handy item or whatever: but an entirely
unique boss fight that some players might never see. Team Cherry says it doesn’t worry too much
about whether everyone will find the content it makes. “Just having it there, out of sight from
most players makes the world more truly alive,” the developer explains – “much of it exists
to convey a sense that there’s always something else waiting in the unexplored recesses of
the world – fearsome enemies, strange characters, new areas, powerful items etc.” “And [it] creates a very special experience
for those few that do make the discovery.” So depending on how you categorise things,
and whether or not you include the Lifeblood and Hidden Dreams DLC, there are more than
30 bosses in the world of Hollow Knight, but you might only fight about 10 to 15 of them
during your adventure. It’s crazy. An absolute butt load of extra bosses and
remixes are added in the other two DLC packs: The Grimm Troupe and Godmaster, but they’re
not relevant to the normal exploration of Hallownest, and so I won’t be discussing
them in this video. What’s the point of going after these non-essential
bosses, then? Other than the fact that you don’t actually
know which bosses are necessary to beat the game, of course. Well, it’s all about ‘dem goodies. The world of Hollow Knight is jam packed with
stuff to find – sometimes hidden behind bosses, sometimes behind secret walls, sometimes behind
those optional locks, sometimes as expensive items in shops, sometimes just found off the
beaten track. You’ve got your usual upgrades: 16 Mask
Shards act like the heart pieces in Zelda: so find four of them and you’ll be able to
take an extra hit in combat. The 9 Vessel Fragments are kinda similar:
find three of these and you’ll boost your available mana for powerful spells and recharging
your health. There are also special moves, like the Great
Slash, Dash Slash, and Cyclone Slash. Soul upgrades like the Abyss Shriek and Descending
Dark. And you can boost the power of your Nail if
you find Pale Ore. And then there are the charms. These collectable badges give you all sorts
of handy abilities like quicker recovery on your spells, no knock-back when fighting enemies,
and so on. Every one is uniquely interesting to equip
and they even synergise for more abilities – but are limited to the number of charm notches
you have. And yes, you can find charm notches as well. All of these items are well worth finding
because Hollow Knight is definitely not an easy game. In fact, it’s brutally difficult at times,
has the same find-your-corpse-when-you-die mechanic as Dark Souls, and some of the bosses
just do not mess around. That makes getting more health, or a charm
that can help you in combat, or a boost to your nail’s strength, or a more powerful
spell a genuinely worthwhile thing to find. Defeating some hidden boss doesn’t feel
like a waste of time because it didn’t let you make any progress – the reward is usually
useful (or, at least, interesting) enough to make your efforts feel worthwhile. I do want to say one thing about the corpse
run mechanic, though: this is one way that Hollow Knight sadly discourages exploration
through its design. When you die in, say, Zelda 1 – it’s easy
to say “you know what? Screw that area, I’m going to look somewhere
else”. When you die in Hollow Knight, though, you
drop a shadowy clone of yourself – who hangs on to all your money and limits your mana
amount to half. This tempts you to return to the place you
just died – sometimes over and over and over again – regardless of the many other interesting
places you could explore, or different routes you could take. These extra bosses and endless special items
also make you feel like there’s something to find around every corner. No matter where you explore, there will be
something to find. Sometimes it’s not even relevant to the
gameplay at all – it’s just story stuff that adds to the rich and immersive atmosphere
of the game. My personal favourite take on this is the way certain
characters seem to be off on their own little adventures. Bugs like Cloth, Quirrel, and Tiso, keep popping
up all over the place – each commenting on their status and location. It makes the world feel alive, and less like
the game revolves entirely around the player. These bugs are off doing their own thing,
with our without you. One bug who definitely does need you, though,
is Zote. This arrogant dude can be found in the mandibles
of a Vengefly King in Greenpath – and it’s up to you if you save him. Same goes for when he’s later found stuck
in spider webs in Deepnest. If you save him both times, he’ll appear
as a boss – of sorts – in the Colosseum of Fools, and then in Bretta’s house in Dirtmouth. But if you miss him in Greenpath or Deepnest, or simply
choose not to save him – well, that’s it. That whole quest will just not happen – and once
again, proves that Team Cherry doesn’t care if you see their work, because it makes it
all the sweeter for those who do witness the full story. The game is actually packed with little quests
like this, such as a mission to save the Grubfather’s children, a promise to fill out of a journal
of every enemy in Hallownest, a tricky quest to carry a delicate flower across the map,
and a personal favourite: the way a secret stag station opens up when you unlock all
the other stations. All of these help flesh out Hollow Knight’s
rich narrative, and add memorable character moments. The world itself tells stories, too. My favourite example of this is the Blue Lake,
which is positioned above the City of Tears, and explains why the city is constantly
raining. Amazing. Let’s talk about actually getting around
Hallownest. So we’ve already discussed the multiple
entry points between areas in the game. In fact, every single zone, except for The
Hive, is connected to at least two other places in Hallownest, through lifts, passageways,
tram stations, and secret routes. Team Cherry says “It was always intentional
to give players different ways to travel to and through (and sometimes around) areas.” Some of these were planned ahead of time,
but others were added when the opportunity presented itself – “For instance, when Deepnest
grew tall enough that the top of it was brushing against the bottom of the Queen’s Gardens,
we added a connection between them.” “If we can add a connection between adjacent
areas, and it makes sense in the world, and it doesn’t cause players to get stuck somewhere,
then we do it”. But when playing the game, many of these routes
start out as only going one way. So it’s initially impossible to get from
Dirtmouth to Crystal Peak. But after getting the Crystal Heart, you can
zoom along here and open up a lift between the town and the peak. It’s one of those wonderful “aha” moments
you get in such elegantly designed wrap-around worlds, like taking that first elevator back
to Firelink Shrine in Dark Souls. What this means is that Hollow Knight’s
developers can initially restrict your access to certain places – to create a semblance
of order and sequence to the game’s items. Like how you need the tram pass to get to
Kingdom’s Edge. But then by opening up new routes from the
other side, like this path through to a lift shaft in the City of Tears, the game’s world
becomes far easier to navigate. Team Cherry does this in micro-form, too. Take the Forgotten Crossroads, where this
locked gate blocks off easy access to the boss. Instead, you’re forced to go all the way
around the zone, taking in every room and challenge along the way. However, once you unlock that gate it becomes
permanently open – giving you easy passageway through the crossroads. This is a clever way of ensuring that the
first time a player enters a zone, they are forced to tackle difficult challenges and
set-ups. Things like tricky platforming sections, or
areas with tough enemies, or brutal gauntlets against waves of foes. But once you’ve proven you can do it once,
you’ll be able to skip this stuff during revisits to the zone – massively reducing
the boring bits of backtracking. There’s only a few times where Team Cherry
breaks this rule. At some point in the game, the Forgotten Crossroads
gets taken over by these malicious orange bubbles and becomes The Infected Crossroads
– complete with new, harder enemy types. Now, I do love this: it makes the world feel
changeable, like time is not standing still during your adventure. And it makes one of the earliest parts of
the game – which has started to become a cakewalk with your newfound skills and abilities – a
new source of challenge. But it also blocks off a couple routes through
the zone, making it just slightly more annoying to navigate. Grr. I should definitely also mention the Stag
network. Similar to the fast travel points in Castlevania:
Symphony of the Night, these stag stations are dotted around Hallownest and provide easy
access between some of the zones. With a map the size of Hallownest, I think
these fast travel points are a fine addition – it would be horribly tedious to get about
without them. And besides, with two stag stations in the
City of Tears, only nine of the fifteen areas have stations, so there’s not enough to
just let you teleport all over the place. You’ll still need to know your way around,
and carefully plot your journey out on your map. Oh, the map! Gosh, how has it taken this long to talk about
one of Hollow Knight’s most interesting features: its mapping system. So, when you first start the game you
won’t have a map of the world at all. But then you’ll come across this cheeky
chap: Cornifer. He’s a cartographer who will sell you his
sketchy, incomplete maps of each zone in the game – these kind of work like the map stations
in Super Metroid, which hint at places you can explore and interesting areas you should
check out. The map for the Forgotten Crossroads, for
example, has a drawing of a big scary monster head, which points you in the direction of
the game’s first boss. Back up in Dirtmouth, you can buy a quill
which then turns the map into a more traditional auto-mapping system. But with a couple twists: one is that the
map only fills in when you sit down on a bench to rest. And the other is that in order to see your
position on the map, you need to buy and equip a compass charm – handy, but maybe it would
be better to use that slot for something else? A decision you can make. The way a game chooses to reveal its world
on a map can completely change your experience with exploring that world. Classic adventures like Zelda and Metroid
didn’t have maps – likely due to technical limitations, but it created this real sense
of mystery and unchartedness, and forced you to make your own map, either in your head
or on paper. The Souls games would revisit this idea much
later, forcing you to forge a map of places like Lordran or Yharnham in your bonce. But a good, clear map is handy, too. It’s nice to plot out routes you want to
take, it can help you figure out where you have and have not yet explored, and it’s
great for scooping up items and secrets. Hollow Knight gives you the best of both worlds. When you first enter a zone, your map
is completely blank – you’re stumbling in the dark, and you have no idea about the size
and scope of the place you’re in. It makes new places feel scary and dangerous. Then, when you get the sketchy map from Cornifer,
you get a slightly better idea of where to go – and some hints at places you might want
to check out. And then once you sit in a bench, you get
the full map. You can see more clearly how the world is
laid out, plan routes through Hallownest, and if you’re feeling a bit stuck – scan
the map for paths you’ve yet to venture down. So, if you thought the final cutscene in Hollow
Knight was a bit anticlimactic – you’d be right. Like many Metroidvanias before it, Hollow
Knight has a bad ending – and a whole lot of gameplay to go if you want to get the true,
good ending. Here’s the basic run down: you need to hop
up here in the Kingdom’s Edge, fight Hornet for the second time, and enter the Cast-Off
Shell. Inside is the King’s Brand, which can be
used in the Ancient Basin to open up a big ol’ door and grant access to The Abyss. Inside is the Shade Cloak, which finally lets
you bypass a recurring obstacle in the game: these black geysers of toxic goop. By the way, you can use the shade cloak to
get to the teacher’s archive from a different direction and wake Monomon without fighting
the Dung Defender or getting Isma’s Tear. Cheeky! Anyway, one black geyser blocks a new boss
fight: the Traitor Lord. And the prize for beating him is the White
Fragment. Sweet. Now, there’s a character called Seer in
the Resting Grounds who will give you goodies in exchange for Essence, which is gained by
defeating the Warrior Dream bosses, the dream variant bosses, using the dream nail on ghosts,
and collecting Essence spawned from whispering roots. If you gather 1800 of this stuff, Seer will
upgrade your Dream Nail to the Awakened Dream Nail. Now if you use this on a corpse in the Ancient
Basin you get to go to the White Palace: a nightmare hellscape void of misery that’s
as hard as anything in Super Meat Boy or Celeste but, like, without the super sharp platforming
controls of either game. God damn this bit is quite annoying. At the end though is another White Fragment. Stick them together and you’ve got the Kingsoul. And then return to the Abyss and you’ll
turn that into the Void Heart. Finally, return to Hollow Knight and use the
Dream Nail on that dude to enter his brain and fight the actual proper last boss: Radiance. Who is very hard and makes me want to cry. But I did it. After like a million goes. I’m quite amazed just how much content there
is in this secretive end game. It took me about 20 hours to get to the credits
for the first time – and then another 10 to get to the proper ending. Testament, I guess, to how Team Cherry is
happy to let players just miss huge swathes of content. Now, personally, this bit didn’t quite work
for me. I felt finished and satisfied with the game
after dispatching Hollow Knight for the first time. And when I discovered that there was a lot
more to do, I didn’t really have the drive to carry on and seek out yet more secrets. Especially because I had no idea where to
go. And the game doesn’t keep up that tradition
of offering two routes into key places so if you miss this jump in the Kingdom’s Edge,
you won’t get very far. Basically, I just followed a walkthrough to
get to the true final ending. Bit of a let down. So, that is Hollow Knight. The game helps lure you into the world of
Hallownest with cryptic clues and the guiding hand of linear level design – but then throws
open the gates to the kingdom and lets you explore as you wish. And by letting you access so much content
simultaneously, and by providing multiple routes and methods to get through the game,
Hollow Knight almost never falls into the trap that Metroidvanias can find themselves
in: of having you scour the map for that one single place you need to go, to make any progress. Instead, Hollow Knight just lets you get on
with exploring – with the promise that there will be something worth finding around every
corner. A fascinating new zone, a bizarre one-off
enemy, a chunk of cryptic world-building, a genuinely helpful item, a game-changing
upgrade, or a terrifying boss monster. This is quite different to other Metroidvanias,
mind you – it misses that puzzle-like aspect of slowly unravelling at a knot that binds
the world together, one lock at a time. But the feeling this game gives is perhaps even better
– just pure, unadulterated wonder and immersion in a world that never stops surprising. Team Cherry told me that “we try to let
the player loose in a wild world, not push them explicitly one way, and reward them for
choosing their own path.” “That approach is based on mutual trust
and respect between us and the player. We know these are smart, dedicated people
and we’re confident that, through observation, tenacity and skill, they’ll deal with the
challenges the world presents and ultimately gain mastery over it. It’s that mastery, in exploration, in combat
and in understanding the story of the world that we hope creates a memorable experience.” It certainly did for me, and to say I’m
excited for the game’s sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, would be a massive understatement. And that is a wrap on Boss Keys. In the last 20 episodes I’ve looked at every
major Zelda game, almost every Metroid game, Castlevania Symphony of the Night, Dark Souls,
and now Hollow Knight. The series is not gone forever, of course
– I’ll be back when huge new games like Metroid Prime 4, Hollow Knight Silksong, and
Breath of the Wild 2 are released. And yes, I do still plan to do that wrap-up
episode on Zelda dungeon design. One day, promise. But I always planned for Hollow Knight to
be the final destination for this series. It’s one of my favourite games and I think
it might be the best Metroidvania ever made. So it’s good to go out on such a high. Thank you so much for watching, and
cheers to my Patrons for supporting this show. I’ll see you next mission.

100 thoughts on “The World Design of Hollow Knight | Boss Keys

  1. Hey thanks for watching and for all your lovely comments! Just wanted to issue a few corrections and clarifications:

    [1] I said that Hornet was referring to the Resting Grounds when she said “seek the Grave in Ash”. She’s actually talking about the Cast-off Shell in the Kingdom’s Edge, where you fight her for the second time.

    [2] There’s a few extra routes through the game that I didn’t mention, namely a path to Deepnest through the Fungal Core, and a path to the Kingdom’s Edge through a secret tunnel in the King’s Station.

    [3] It’s true that you can get your shade back without travelling to where you last died by giving a rancid egg to Jiji in Dirtmouth. This is useful in some situations, but I don’t think it changes the underlying design of the shade mechanic in a substantial way.

    [4] Your soul amount drops by a third, not a half, when you die.

    [5] I could have worded the DLC stuff better. Mentioning that bosses are “exclusive” to free, auto-installed DLC packs is a bit weird. My intention was to help out people who played Hollow Knight's base game in 2017 and were confused about missing these bonus bosses.

  2. Every single clip where your Soul was broken and your health was low made me anxious.

    Great vid GMTK! I always love to see +30min vids from my subs because I know there must've been countless hours of hard work that went into them. And I just finished Hollow Knight last month too, so convenient timing!

  3. There's actually a way to avoid the corpse walk in Hollow Knight, although it's a mechanic that I feel is pretty unpopular and nobody uses even if it's available potentially from the start if you can get a key early.

    If you bring a Rancid Egg to Confessor Jiji in Dirthmouth he can summon your shade without forcing you to actually travel back to where you die. In the end I think not a lot of people use this feature because travelling back to Dirthmouth just to mess with Jiji and then go exploring somewhere else is way more time consuming that just persevering in exploring the place you just died.

  4. I just beat Hollow Knight today and got the base ending. Man, what a great game and I can't wait to go back and beat it again, doing all the stuff I missed and then getting the true ending. This is great video and am happy to finally finish watching after stopping to not get spoiled on anything it may say. I can't wait for Hollow Knight Silksong.

  5. I love how they made some NPC have an actual impact on gameplay like Quirrel helping you fight the Jellyfish boss and Cloth will sacrifice herself saving you at queen's garden if you save her in the Ancient Basin and her spirit will thank you for a worthy challenge and happy that she will reunite with Nola. If you did not save her and beat the Traitor lord alone, you can find her at Dirtmouth and she will tell you about seeking a challenge and want to die in an Epic battle as a true warrior. Which make it so fascinating to play the game and see her different fates in multiple scenario.

  6. I didn't notice the blue lake was right on top of city of tears, after 60+ hours and 109% lol
    I did notice the corpses falling from the coliseum to kingdom's edge though (after a while)

  7. I just picked up Hollow Knight from my Steam wishlist so I could eventually have better context to watch this video. Is an Iconoclasts video planned ? I started it a few months ago, but I'm lukewarm about some of its level design unfortunately.

  8. After you get the hook you're free because you can go down and kill the boss in mantis village and proceed left and down and then you can go where ever you want and not after you get to the city

  9. STOP READING MY DIARY, DAD!!!!!!

    Like seriously, you just put into words exactly my reasons for liking and playing Engineer

  10. masterpiece does not even remotely describe what hollow knight is!
    i wil come back to this game even in 20 years!
    and the price for that game is 20 bucks with all dlc!! how is that even possible!?
    I wanted to pay/give more!! never had that feeling in my life!

  11. Remember:
    Life before death You will go through the easier way
    Strenght before wakness You will search those items which make you stronger
    Journey before destination You won't get obsessed with finishing the game, you will explore and get lost in this wonderfull game

  12. "Oh! The map! Gosh, how has it taken this long to talk about one of Hollow Knight's most interesting features, the mapping system!"

    Uh, because that's how you wrote it in the script, I guess?

  13. 17:11 "Can't be reached without the monarch wings"

    You can pretty easily pogo off the objects below the ledge to get up there.

    Edit: 18:10 Ha, I should better watch the video to the end next time.

  14. I don’t know whether or not Hollow Knight is better than Bloodstained as a Metroidvania, but HK is hands down my favorite. I feel like the two are recent examples of different flavors of metroidvania.

  15. I don't think that the first two endings are bad ends. It's what you set out to do, take over the infection for your big brother and keep it sealed. Personally, the ending I prefer is the fourth, where you get to destroy the radiance but also keep the Hollow Knight alive.

  16. One of the best parts of the game is how alive the world feels. You can see how the different zones contrast and connect with each other, as you meet and befriend new bugs that react to changes in the environment caused by you, which makes everything you do have weight and meaning, even to the point where I felt guilty fighting some of the cuter enemies

  17. I didn't really care for the world design, even though I really enjoy the Metroidvania genre. I actually wanted to know how to do some things that the game wouldn't tell me or give me very little context to what I should do next and unfortunately made me rather burnt out.

  18. On the subject of Dreamer markers. I think the importance of giving the player an explicit goal shouldn't be undermined. I personally didn't mind stumbling around Hallownest and learning how the world clicked together on my own, but being signposted in a more clear direction was largely relieving. Finding the Resting Grounds and learning what to do after 15+ hours of gameplay elevated my frustration from not knowing what the goal of the game was. Being truly free isn't the same as being directionless and I think Hollow Knight nails this idea down brilliantly.

  19. Honestly, I found that the ‘corpse finding’ helped me to try and push through obstacles that I really wouldn’t have otherwise, from boss fights, to just difficult areas. And the best part was is was always worth it.

  20. Amazing video as always. May I recommend looking over Divinity: Original Sin 2 in depth? In my opinion, it's the best traditional story driven single player rpg

  21. The very design and acts of certain bosses really makes the game's world more rich and believable and above all opens up a lot of rooms for you to speculate for example as you are unchaining the hollow knight he is carefully watching you or at the last phase in the storm of actions he suddenly starts to stab himself but why?
    I think the devs as they do in the world design want you to find out the answer and this is what separates the game medium from being a playable movie with lots of action sequences and realistic visuals,in a true game you experience the game's world and in that experience you may miss sth (as all of us did in hollow knight) and the game doesn't care because it's up to you to discover the secrets.

    Hollow knight is a good game (Seriously, just having someone like grimm in your game makes it a 10/10)

  22. A beautiful analysis of probably my favorite current game!
    Had I know you were doing this, I would've lent a cover of mine for your video 😉
    I'll be waiting dir the silksong analysis =)

  23. I think you'd enjoy the true ending stuff more if you had the drive to seek out everything there is to find instead of simply following objective markers to the final boss. I got the "true" ending my first time around because the dark gates stuck in my mind and I refused to progress without uncovering their secrets.

  24. The one thing I don't like about HK is the excessive backtracking you have to do. I think there are too few stag stations. If you uncovered and mastered a majority of the map, you should be able to fast travel almost everywhere as a reward. Maybe like 5 stations that open up only if you uncovered 90 percent of the map or something like that. Also, I think benches should be more in the neighbourhood of bosses, because if you die, you have to travel a path over and over again, which you already mastered, because you already have gotten to the boss and this becomes tedious very quickly.

  25. This was the best game of 2017 and I say that knowing full well that BotW, Divinity OS2, Nier Automata, Persona 5, etc. released that year.

  26. Do you have to restart if you want the good ending but have already accessed The Hollow Knight?? I had one half of the king soul and only dream nailed the knight to get into White Castle with 1200 (not awoken dreamnail) so I figured I couldn’t go anywhere and just killed THK 😓

  27. It's fun to see what the "intended" path is, because my own path through the game was so different. I didn't realize I could climb over the bridge to the city, and ended up climbing up from underneath. I didn't have any problem with the ending, though: I assumed, from lore drops in the game, as well as my understanding of games like this, that there would be a good ending that had to be earned by deep exploration. Because there was always so much to find around every corner, I had no problem continuing to look for more clues. Once I got the first half of the Kingsoul, I knew i was on the right track. I still haven't beat the Hollow Knight, though: I'm trying to complete every other task first, and I'm stuck fighting Grimm at the moment.

  28. 6:40, actually, in my first playthrough, i accidentally stumbled into darknest right after i got the mantis claw, by breaking the hidden wall in the fungal wastes that you showed in 10:28 and falling the big hole, stuck there with an unupgraded weapon, and trying to fight my way out, then accidentally digging myself further inwards out of curiousity. I had a very unconverntional first playthough which gave me a very unique first experience with the game (the game suddenly felt like horror to me). This goes to show just how much the game opens up once you get the mantis claw

  29. I am in the middle of my first play through of this game.  I keep loosing all my geo by dying in some god awful hard location and not being able to get to it again without dying.   I have lost 1000s of geo I really really needed.  Team Cherry kicks me in the balls on a daily basis.

  30. Mark, if I had one criticism of this video it would be that you are very clearly a big fan of Hollow Knight and should just stream it. I mean this one was a bit less of an analysis and was more like an abridged talk through the game. It was more like a summary. Just stream it and give us the full guided tour.

    Imagine a man talking about how much he loves pizza for 40 minutes. That man should just order pizza, don't you think?

  31. I died in the Deepnest and Ancient Bassin with a lot of money, around 3 am, and going back for my shadow there were probably some of the worst, most stressful and exhausting moments I've experienced while playing videogames xD I was also never able to complete the white castle because I suck at platforming and I become such a hateful, raging mess that it takes the fun out of it. But I still love this game, can't wait for Silksong!!!

  32. My learned analysis of Hollow Knight’s world design as someone who’s played basically every single Metroidvania: it’s the best one

  33. not enough devs trust the players and i think that is the key feature which makes the big difference here. most treat their players like they don't know anything thus too much hand holding and i am tired of it… so bless this love to hollow knight

  34. I don't think the death system is disincourages exploration, since you can summon the shadow in dirtmouth if you don't want to return to the area you died.

    I think the death system is very clever because it encourages you keep playing the game, while dying in most games (that don't use this trick; i.e. dark sould and shovel knight) makes you want to finish your game session.

  35. Hollow Knight seems even more incredible right now. Didn't think it was possible. I'm amazed all the skips were expected and welcomed by the devs. Silksong is probably my most wanted game right now.

    About future Boss Keys… no Boss Keys on Bloodborne planned? Too bad, I found him even better than Dark Souls in level design. Like Hollow Knight, a huge part of the game is totally optional. Not only bosses, but complete locations can be skip. Old Yharnam? Skip. Hemwick Charnel Lane? Skip. Healing Church Workshop? Skip. Upper Cathedral Ward and the Orphanage? Skip! Cainhurst Castle? Skip. Nightmare Frontier? Skip. Floor 1 of Lecture Building? Skip. And so go on for a big part the streets of Yharnam (Iosefka's Clinic, central Yharnam leading to Cleric Beast…). And it's so rewarding to uncover all these places. Bloodborne is all about finding an hidden truth. So it makes sense that so much things are hidden. You want the truth? Go find it if you dare. : D

    So, I would have loved some Boss Keys on that game. :'(

    (After Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3 "The Straight Line" was one the biggest disappointment I had these few last years…)

  36. Boss Keys has gotta be one of the best video essay-style series on this platform. Always enjoyed watching them, looking forward to seeing what you’ve got in store next.

  37. I wish the game held hands to the nailsmith tho. The path to the nailsmith isn't the most visible one because the only way to find it is if you stay on that descending elevator instead of hopping off to a nearby platform, which many players, including myself, couldn't help but doing. I ended up beating Mantis Lords and Soul Master without finding him.

  38. I guess I should revisit this game, I never really got into it. I'd heard so much about it, but I only ever had a few minutes to play here and there. So when I go back to it I have no idea where I am, what I'm doing or even what I've done. My already limited play-time was then spend wondering around the same areas, getting lost in the same places. So I just gave up. 🙁

  39. This is in my top 3 favorite games of all time… They did such an incredibly genius job in world design. Cant wait for Silk Song

  40. Great video as always. One thing that jumped out at me was your mention about how you felt completely satisfied with the nonsecret HK ending, and how the "true" ending requires an exceptional mastery of pretty much every aspect of the game. With the release of the Godmaster DLC, they've raised the skill ceiling of the game as high as it can physically go (beat the bosses with everything min-level and take zero damage). I think there might be value in exploring this new design space of games providing almost infinite difficulty scaling so that hardcore players can truly master the game, but also the changes of expectations it requires in consumers to understand they most like can't "100%" a game. One similar game that does this is Crypt of the Necrodancer, which includes a character that is so difficult to play that (to my knowledge) only one person in the world has managed to complete a full run of the game with it.

  41. I'd argue that your qualms with the game design are more qualms with yourself. I'd argue the soul run mechanic is excellent! It encourages players to fight the boss they reached, which can always be beaten by the time you can reach them. You also mentioned that you missed the radiance fight ending, which I find odd. There are lots of hints and lures to it, all throughout the game. The shade gates specifically encourage you to find the shadow cloak upgrade. Hornets message encourages you to find the corpse. There's a blocked gate with a symbol on it that encourages you to find the way to open it, the same way the city of tears gate is. I'd argue you're upset at yourself for missing these things by not caring to search, rather than being upset at the game for not luring you to them.

  42. I think the phrase "you can avoid it IF YOU WISH" is very telling. That only makes any sense if you already know the game inside out. You can't avoid a boss if you don't know it's there, or if you don't know that an alternate route even exists.

    I also fail to see the point of hiding the map. If its location was a dot on the blank map, there would be some skill required in exploring and figuring out how to get to that dot. As it stands, it's just blind luck whether or not you stumble across it. I ended up beating entire areas before ever finding the map, at which point it was useless. I don't know what sense it makes or how it improves the game to not have an automapping feature that fills out the map as you go. It was a frustrating nightmare every time I died in a new area and struggling to do the corpse run with no map.

    Same goes for save spots. Why aren't save spots and maps right inside the entrance of new areas? You can get all the way to a boss room and go right in, missing a nearby save room, because you have no idea which is which until you're already inside. It's all about luck. Then if you die, not onlu do you have to travel all the way through the dangerous new area without a map, but you also have to make a tedious journey through the PREVIOUS area before you even arrive at the new one to start the corpse run. And this is in a game with bosses so hard you might have to attempt them dozens of times, and you STILL have no clue that there might be a save room in the immediate vicinity! The design is terrible!

  43. This video pushed me to check out Hollow Knight, bought it last monday, and haven't been able to put it down so far (17 hours in it in only 1 week 😂)

  44. I take it spoilers are fair game since this is a thorough analysis? Ok, here we go then:

    So in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, the big villains are void creatures, and the good guys are moth creatures which rely on the light to counter the void's darkness.
    Isn't the premise in Hollow Knight the same, but in reverse? It's a giant moth that is the aggressor here, and the bugs use the void to fight against it.

  45. alternatively you can defeat the mantis boss go on a journey trough deepnest and after finding the trainstationcard and entering the city from behind and defeating (as your third boss ) the watcher knights with no upgrades whatsoever on your second try and all that in your first playthrough

  46. This was a GREAT summary of my favorite game! It shows many of the great things about the game, talks about the feeling of exploring the unknown and shows us that a indiegame created by 3 persons can be THAT good! Although I miss any kind of mentioning about the music which drives the atmosphere of the different sectors, but I guess that maybe doesn't really qualify as design?

    Anyway I'm gonna save this and link this to anyone in the future wondering more about HK, thanks!

  47. Literally my only complaint about Hollow Knight is how it takes 6 hours or so for the world and abilities to open up. After that it's one of the best gaming experiences I've ever had in my life.

  48. "Best Metroidvania ever made"

    …until Silksong releases that is. Can't wait to see what these guys have done with building on all the experience they got from making Hollow Knight. A lot of franchises' second outings are their best. Think Star wars, Dead Space, Alien, even Dark Souls – if you consider it to be the spiritual sequel of Demon's Souls. Cyberpunk 2077 is second only to Silksong on my Steam wishlist, because I have that much faith in these Australian devs to deliver a quality experience. This will be a day one buy for me and I don't feel any trepidation stating this on the internet, in a youtube comment section, because I will absolutely not have to defend my position. That is the strength of this game's brand. The strength of the shared experience that Hollow Knight has provided to those that have lost themselves in it.

    Silksong When? Silksong when it's fucking ready. Be patient. Let them make it. Take as much time as you need, Team Cherry. We are waiting, but not demanding. Don't announce anything until you are ready. We'll all still be here.

  49. I'm happy that Team Cherry recognizes what everyone loves about Hollow Knight–it makes me all the more excited for Silksong 😀

  50. I have no words to express the beauty of the game when I think about it in retrospective. The art, story, music, bosses, difficult learning curve make up for a wholesome emotional experience. Team Cherry and Christopher Larkin deserve immense respect for this wonderful gift.

  51. the true actual ending of hollow knight is actually god masters ending, where you complete the trial of hollownest which fighting every boss in the entirety in the game except you cant die or youll have to restart, but uhhh its fucking pain and after about 4 months of pain, i finally completed it

  52. I love the fact that it only takes you five minutes and forty seven seconds to get to the point in the game that took me months to get to

  53. My first playthrough of Hollow Knight was a pretty weird one.

    I didn't like the controls for the ranged attack, so I just didn't use it. And that meant when I fought the Soul Master for the first time, I couldn't beat him. I kept coming back to fight him over and over, and kept dying. I gave up when I ended up losing a bunch of money. Which made me assume he was like the Mantis Lords, and I wasn't "supposed" to fight him yet. So I just skipped him.

    Then I played through the entire rest of the game, and pretty much forgot about him. And managed to get every single damage upgrade before hitting a wall where the only real things left blocking my progress were the desolate dive breakable floors. It felt good coming back to the Soul Master and completely kicking his ass afterwards.

    That level of pure freedom to explore with multiple pathways and alternative upgrades to get through an absolutely massive labyrinth is what really makes Hollow Knight an untouchable #1 in the genre for me.

  54. I just experienced Hollow Knight this year. It was difficult, yet rewarding; memorable and amazing.

    The more I think about it, Hollow Knight belongs amongst the greatest games of all time — or at least my own personal list of faves, from a man who's been gaming for nearly 30 years.

  55. i was stuck in the city of tears, because i thought i definitely needed to go down into the royal waterways, but used my first key for the room on the right side of dirtmouth.
    i looked the second key up which was easy to miss, because it was in a hidden room in the city.

  56. 3:21 "the muted greys of the Ancient Basin"
    *shows Royal Waterways"
    xD just kidding, i know it is a transition between the two areas so we can consider it as a part of the Ancient Basin ^^

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