Graphics, animation & gameplay
If you have digested the – very yummy – previous article, a dissection of Hollow Knight‘s music (mainly) and sound design, let’s approach with a little more concision (but always in detail… go figure) the game’s graphics, animation and gameplay. For those who missed an episode, follow the links to find about the lore and enjoy the NPCs analysis.
(All the images and game files (audio & video) are property of Team Cherry & Christopher Larkin. Screenshots and videos (except for cutscenes which come from the game files) are from my own gameplay unless there’s a mentioned source)
A realistic gameplay
In Hollow Knight, exploration has its own mechanics. Usually, in a game, there’s already a map (Guacamelee! partly) or it appears as you move around (In Ori, you don’t actually need map stones in the first game or Lupo in the second for the map to appear). Here, until you buy a map, you don’t know anything, except the sad fact that you “do not have a map for this area”. Cornifer sells us a basic map (a freehand drawing, but with the key elements, such as the boss’ room) that we can improve as we go along, provided we previously bought a feather and sat on a bench. Indeed, if one can consult the map while walking (we see the Knight taking out their map and it is highly cute), writing while walking would be a feat.
Also, unlike other games that show our location on the map, here we’ll have to pay for a compass if the need arises. The mechanics associated with the map are rather developed, in that the game does not stop when we consult it : we can see the enemies continue to move in the background (we can therefore get attacked) ; likewise, we cannot consult the map while swimming. This realism is one of the keys for us to identify with the little hero, to immerse ourselves in the game, to limit any distancing effect so that our experience of the game is as close as possible to the experience of the little hero in their quest.
Furthermore, in the cut content from the game’s development phase, there was a charm called Charm_Wall_Reveal, which, like the similar spirit shard in Ori & the Will of the Wisps (the Secret shard), can be guessed to reveal hidden areas or breakable walls.
The fact that this mechanics has been abandoned shows the emphasis laid on exploration in the game ; sometimes it puts us in danger, other times we are rewarded with a little secret, a lovely NPC… or another tragic destiny, like Joni’s, a little bug whose Blessing we retrieve as a charm at the foot of their tomb, in a temple at the heart of the Howling Cliffs, a temple with a hypnotic atmosphere, filled with those cyan butterflies synonymous with lifeblood.
In addition, the story of Hallownest is only really revealed at the cost of a thorough exploration of the kingdom ; the lore’s first elements, the first lines of the Elegy for Hallownest by Monomon the Teacher and the short introductory cutscene, can remain rather enigmatic (although the above-mentioned cutscene is impressively efficient). Elderbug then confides in us, but it’s only much later that the source of this curse is known, for it is the Seer, the last survivor of the Moth Tribe, who in her final words (only after facing several Warrior Dreams and Dream Bosses – which means that we have to explore and come back to places we’ve already been) reveals the connection between the Radiance and her tribe, and the source of this Infection.
Exploring also means discovering your own abilities : there are of course some “direct” tutorials (for spells and new abilities), but at the beginning, you discover the hero’s abilities on your own, especially for a key element of the gameplay : the downward attack, which allows you to get rid of most of the enemies (except for those kind enough to attack upward, or to 😠 teleport 😠 – yes, it’s you I’m talking about, Soul Twister), and that you use intensively in some platforming areas, or just to flex in front of your friend the Old Stag.
Who are you ?
Everything is unknown to us : every time we meet an NPC, we wonder if they’re friend or foe, sometimes they turn against us, like when Millibelle runs away with our money. Another important point about the gameplay is that there is no HP bar for the enemies ; it wouldn’t make sense to know this during the exploration : the player, like the little hero, has to memorize the number of hits or spells needed to kill each enemy (at least that’s what I do), in order to gain speed and confidence ; as for the bosses, not knowing their HP makes us constantly on our guard (against the Dung Defender for example, who’s rather easy but has at least 700 HP, the fight can therefore be drawn out, making it more difficult) ; it is very likely that using a mod with HP bars will change our behavior, insofar as we can somehow plan the fight : we won’t hesitate to tirelessly strike our opponent if we know that they have little HP left, while in a “blind” fight we will keep an eye on our soul meter in order to heal, which may draw the fight a little longer.
Generally speaking, Hollow Knight‘s gameplay is demanding, and very “tight” : whereas in Ori for instance, we can reach, relatively easily, areas that are supposedly out of reach using bash or weapons (in the second opus), here the cuts are very technical, and it is extremely rare not to be interrupted when we fall into thorns or spikes : as soon as we get hurt, we have to start again. On the other hand, there is no instakill, and in the most difficult sections we will always find some easy enemies to provide us with this precious soul. So precious that it disappears from our soul vessels when we leave the game : they are indeed empty when we start again, as if it had been used to get us back on our feet during a long rest.
Another element of the game, regularly pointed out, participates in the game’s realistic feel and can make us ponder what we’re doing : corpses. Except for the biggest enemies (and the bosses) whose corpses will disappear quickly to avoid taking up too much of the screen, like the Booflies (the big passive enemies at Kingdom’s Edge), the corpses remain on screen. As for the bosses, if some of them are only temporarily rendered powerless (thus Hornet, or the Dung Defender – still him – do not die at the end of the fight), others are very dead, which is sometimes emphasized by the game : after defeating the False Knight, we find his corpse in a hidden room, surrounded by Maggots meditating on his body in the light of a few candles. One can then face the False Knight’s Dream variant, the Failed Champion.
This aspect could be nuanced by the fact that, as in any video game, enemies – apart from bosses and mini-bosses – reappear ; however, if we take into account the fact that corpses can be possessed and awakened in some way by the Infection, as we can see with the Broken Vessel, this gives meaning to the fact that these enemies reappear, while accentuating the cruelty of the fate of these poor bugs, husks condemned to a restless wandering, even beyond death. Some enemies return as soon as we enter the room again, which further supports how impossible the task that awaits the hero seems : the NPCs repeatedly emphasize the exceptional nature of what they accomplish.
In a rather similar but more harmless way, we break the objects around us when we hit them with our nail ; they reappear however when we enter the room again ; with some luck (2% to be precise) we can cross at the bottom of the well leading to the Forgotten Crossroads the friendly Menderbug.
This destruction is therefore also included in the diegesis : we can find Menderbug’s diary in his home, diary in which he mentions those broken things.
Death is more generally very present in the game, in a very realistic way too, given the many other corpses of Hallownest, those of wanderers for example, who alas perished after getting lost or after a not very fortuitous encounter, or bodies of Warrior Dreams ; sometimes we even sit on them, like Leg Eater’s bench. Even worse, at Kingdom’s Edge, corpses of the unlucky fighters from the Colosseum of Fools seem to endlessly fall from the sky : we can even find Tiso there… It mirrors this long ascent of the Abyss, while countless vessels fall on the ground with this disturbing hollow – no pun intended – sound.
The little vessel
At this point, we can ask ourselves the question : who are we? We’re not supposed to have a mind or a will, so why are we reacting this way to the fate of Hallownest ? Why did we return to the kingdom, is it due to the nature of the Void, capable of annihilating the Radiance’s light, and would therefore be as if attracted to it ? We can see in the Abyss that, as long as it’s not unified, the Void attacks blindly, even creatures made of Void since it attacks us, whether it be the Void tentacles or the Family. This is not the case for the little hero who only attacks enemies (those who actually attack them or the infected husks, wandering everywhere). And at that point they do not have the Void Heart yet, therefore they have not unified the substance from the Abyss. Do they just have instinct ?
Was the Pale King right ? Is there really neither will nor mind in these vessels ? Rather than being mistaken about the purity of the Hollow Knight, would he not have been mistaken about the Void ‘s true nature ?
Of course the hero’s attitude depends on what the player will make them do, but this is only true for certain things, especially ghosts, one can choose to ignore them, make them disappear or let them haunt Hallownest, but for the friend or foe distinction, it is decided by the game. If the Knight left and then came back, is it really just because of their instinct ? Did they sense a call ? In the very first cutscene they seem to take the time to contemplate Dirtmouth before jumping into King’s Pass…
However, our adventure is not all destruction. We save Sly, then Bretta, from the Infection that begins to attack them. We help Cloth by protecting her and then giving her strength (although she may die during her quest). We “awaken” the Nailmasters, delighted to transmit their technique to such a gifted disciple, and thanks to the pale ore we bring him, the Nailsmith finally realizes the ultimate weapon… We bring solace to Ze’mer by placing a delicate flower on the grave of her beloved (her dearly beloved – sorry, couldn’t help), the Traitor Lord’s daughter, which turns a game quest into a beautiful moment. And above all we give back to the Last Stag his memory, and consequently, in the heart of his nest, the hope, the very conviction not to be alone, as he is now called the Old Stag.
And if defeat is sometimes seen as a failure, in some cases, the fight even has more of a sporting, even artistic dimension : the Dung Defender is happy to fight and welcomes us with joy, Galien challenges us in a “joyful combat”, more generally some of the bosses recognize our superiority : battle is not always synonymous with death, annihilation or destruction. Even if it is a bit sad to think that Marmu won’t learn to fly with the queen…
Not so simple…
A meticulous character design
Hollow Knight‘s graphics show an apparent simplicity : it’s an assumed 2D animation, (“traditional 2D animation”, a strong selling point of one of the trailers !) with a very “drawn” appearance : the characters are sketched with a visible black pencil stroke and colored with relatively little nuanced coloring. The hero has the simplest design (which draws attention to the myriad details of the animation) : a black body with slightly rounded limbs, arms hidden under a gray cape, a white shell to protect the void they are made of, their weapon in their back ; most of the other characters or enemies have a similar appearance, yet this allows for a great diversity of NPCs and an abundance of details in their design.
For example, small accessories such as the pickaxes of the Husk Miners that break on the ground and their headlamp containing a lumafly, the Crystallised Husks’ integrated laser beams, Menderbug’s hammer and toolbox, the Last Stag’s decorated seats, Cornifer’s glasses and bag… and Millibelle’s hairstyle.
Their animation is also full of nice details : although it generally meets the constraints of a video game (the characters have a very short looped animation), it is extremely meticulous and poetic : Quirell’s stance on a bench in the City of Tears, the same wiping his nail in Greenpath, the small bouncing effect of Myla’s pickaxe digging endlessly in the mine, the short moment when some enemies notice our presence and then rush towards us.
One of my favorite “attitudes” (rather than animation since here it’s the stance that is interesting) is that of the Soul Warrior when he fires a Soul orb at us :
Some places are recurrent in the game, those associated with rest, like benches and hot springs ; there’s a lot of variety in the attitude of the numerous NPCs in these places, it makes their character easy to understand at a glance.
Regarding the playable character, I mentioned above the simplicity of their appearance to show the delicacy of the animation : they’re indeed not left out. In addition to the main animations, when they walk, turn, jump or attack, the hero has many small animation details. They stand up when entering Dirtmouth, because if you can dash there, you can’t run. When they fall from a great height, they don’t get up immediately, they raise their head, one paw on the floor, and then get up. My two favorite details are the little paw we see when they retrieve an object (often a charm) and the twirling effect of their cloak when the hero charges a Super Dash (especially when they’re on a wall). I swear I don’t watch videos at 0.25 speed to see all of said details, really, I swear ! never-ending cough
The sound design of the characters perfects it all with a wide variety of voices and emotions, from the disturbed Nailmaster
to Menderbug’s demonic singing (seriously, he’s more possessed than Spelunky 2‘s pan flute).
It doesn’t show much but tells a lot
Elegance is also manifest in the cutscenes, which are rare apart from the game’s endings : they’re used sparingly (sometimes it’s only three shots, like when a Nailmaster teaches us his favorite technique)…
…but this contributes to the aforementioned elegance (the glow emitted by the heated metal mysteriously illuminates the Nailmaster’s face).
The initial cutscene and the fountain one, in the City of Tears, are particularly beautiful.
The prologue and the introduction to the game only reveal what is needed. In particular, at the end of the introduction, in three shots of the hero we understand everything there is to know: their little legs show the contrast between their size and the task that awaits them, their eyes let us guess what they’re made of, their weapon reveals the adventure that lies before them, and therefore, us…
As for the fountain cutscene…
…it is always touching to notice the few raindrops falling from the mask of the sacrificed Hollow Knight’s statue, like tears ; and Hornet’s arrival, always quite spectacular, her weapon preceding her, and her very acrobatic stance, emphatic, impressive, her weapon held in hand horizontally. It is an elegant way to show her mistrust despite her change of attitude towards the little hero ; indeed, she won’t hesitate to challenge them a second time. To emphasize her strength, we can see that there is almost no recoil when she catches her weapon, it stops nearly instantly, which is all the more difficult as Hornet’s arm is raised and she’s looking straight ahead of her.
But even more than the characters, it’s Hollow Knight‘s whole scenery that manages to amaze with an apparently modest material.
The kingdom’s richness
A vast world
Although what appears on screen is relatively limited, the kingdom of Hallownest is vast : just look at the place taken by the Forgotten Crossroads on the map : at the end of the game, the whole screen is filled : it’s huge, all the more extravagant as the hero is very small. However this is what you expect from a kingdom, and I always like to imagine the Queen’s station swarming with little bugs ready to climb on a stag.
One might be frustrated that such a kingdom is only treated in 2 dimensions, however it is not : thanks to the different layers (and by different I mean one thousand layers) and the parallax, the backgrounds manage to give depth, and thus volume to this world, making it even more realistic ; it is most striking in the City of Tears, with its prodigious size when you manage to see everything at a glance (screenshot made by InkScarlet, CC BY-SA 3.0, available on Hollow Knight’s French wiki).
This volume is also emphasized by the music : as I mentioned in the previous article, the careful use of reverb (both in the music and in Unity), and all the subtle work on echo effects, as if the sound was reflecting on caves or crystals, or coming from an other room, participates in creating the third dimension of this 2D game.
The king, the Engineer
With such a vast kingdom, a wealth of engineering had to be deployed to cover large distances quickly : digging stag tunnels (a nice reference to insects, by the way), elevators, infrastructure in the mine, even a tram. I really like the fact that some elevators are automatic, as in the mine, or in Dirtmouth to access the stag station, while others are triggered by levers on each floor of the City of Tears : you can easily imagine the nobles (in the eastern part of the city, which has a warmer graphic palette and finer materials) moving around with little bugs as elevator boys (yep, I’m having fun on my own), whereas in the mine it is much more practical to use automatic ones.
More generally, Hallownest and especially its capital reveal a certain virtuosity in the mastery of architecture and materials (metal and glass).
For the comfort of all these bugs, there are even hot springs where you can splash some of them as much as you want.
More generally, Hallownest and especially its capital reveal a certain virtuosity in the mastery of architecture and materials (metal and glass) and mechanisms (ah, those charming gears !), which, although sometimes unlikely or even impossible, such as the “bench machines”, always seem very realistic, a realism at the same time very anchored in the game’s own universe, for example through the lumaflies that act as a light source and fly away when you break the glass that protects them.
These engineering feats are evidence of a world richer than it seems. At the beginning of the game, we’re only in Dirtmouth’s heights, but already the camera lingers on elegant street lamps (in the shape of ammonites as in Lyme Regis, in the United Kingdom – photo on the left by Michael Maggs, CC BY-SA 3.0, cropped).
The fading town is simple in appearance, but underneath spreads out the entire kingdom, whose capital city, remember, is built under a lake whose water filters through the porous rock. I really like the little touch of the stairs leading to some of Dirtmouth’s houses in the background and the various signs, scattered throughout Hallownest.
Some of the gameplay’s key elements (benches, levers, machines), probably handmade, are finely wrought ; the benches in particular have a design that manages to be varied, almost every bench being customized, yet keeping a common identity at the same time.
A buried kingdom
Hallownest is plunged into a perpetual night : the only light sources are the lumaflies (so it’s a naturally artificial light !), you can’t see the sun in Dirtmouth, unless nights are very long… The kingdom is anyway completely buried, it is a closed world, even its gardens, and Crystal Peak is in fact a hollowed out mountain, dug by the miners : this is why the kingdom’s colors, although varied, cannot be that vibrant, except for the crystal of course.
We also see the kingdom’s sleep through the physics of the game : there is relatively little physics (at least if we compare to Ori, where the physics is almost… hyperbolic, especially in the second opus), some platforms, lighter, react to our presence, others move to add a challenge to the navigation, but quite honestly, we mostly find the physics with the mushrooms (on which we can happily bounce) ; it’s another way to show Hallownest’s stasis, as we make dust appear when we jump, or leaves that have accumulated on the ground when we walk.
The graphic palette is also more nuanced than one might think at first. If blue and black dominate, very quickly some areas stand out : Greenpath and later the Queen’s Gardens, both mixing the green and purple of the plants as well as the metal of some infrastructures.
The mine is saturated with pink crystals (especially the hidden room where we find Deep Focus) and the beehive is orange and hexagons everywhere. Even the cute bookshelves… The backgrounds are for some absolutely sumptuous.
It’s also a realm that mixes safety and danger : in Greenpath you walk from a deceitful acid lake to a welcoming source in the background, like in Deepnest, an area often unpopular with players (no butterflies here, just follow the spiders, right Ron ?), where after a difficult navigation with enemies taking us by surprise, you fall into a hot spring, synonymous with safety (the music in these areas, called Reflection in the soundtrack, is called Safety in the game’s audio files). This illustrates the alliance between civilization, brought by the Pale King, and the original, raw nature, which sometimes prevails, like the supposedly dead Isma, tied to the wall behind her by climbing plants, as if they had suddenly decided to take her, or two of the dead Snail Shamans : one has been literally crystallized by Crystal Peak’s pink crystal, the other looks sound asleep, as the flora around them reclaimed the area.
It can also be seen through the combination of the forged panels (for example the panel that announces the Mantis Village or the Nailsmith’s hut), proof of a more advanced civilization, and the mossy stones on which sometimes a few words tell us about the past of an area, like in Greenpath.
This organic character of the kingdom, an adjective I often use to describe Hollow Knight, is also reflected in the transitions between the different zones : the colors fade, for example when exploring Greenpath, and at the very top we return to the graphic palette of the Forgotten Crossroads (where we can save Zote for the first time… or leave him to the Vengefly King’s mandibles).
Finally, it’s also a design that mixes curves and straight lines, and manages to suggest immensity (the parallax, some elevators with astonishing dimensions) without ever forgetting the smallest detail, while sometimes relying on so little, since in some areas most of the setting is drawn based on Hallownest’s seal with the Pale King’s crown, proof of his domination and adoration.
A gameplay that serves the story
Hollow Knight uses everything it has at its disposal to tell the story of Hallownest : we saw that the NPCs were storytellers and that the music too had a vast narrative dimension, but there’s also a very strong link between the story and the gameplay itself : the whole videogame experience finds its meaning in what the game wants to tell us, and although Hollow Knight takes the classic elements of the genres it belongs to, it sublimates them by linking them precisely to its story.
Thus the enemies’s patterns make sense : most of the bugs are infected, therefore blinded, they have lost all consciousness : we find them trapped in an infinite loop (the crawling insects), blinded by the enemy (the Crystal Hunters, which fly and follow the hero).
In the eastern part of the City of Tears, the bourgeois are particularly unfit to defend themselves : one runs towards us waving his arms, an other jumps, looking frightened, only one tries a simplistic attack with a minimal range : they’re not used to fighting and as such present little danger for the hero, on the other hand they are protected by very powerful guards who are constantly walking back and forth while grumbling.
The bosses’ attacks also make a lot of sense : the False Knight manipulates his spear fairly basically because he has stolen the armor of Hegemol, one of the Five Great Knights ; the Broken Vessel is manipulated by Lightseeds and moves in a supernatural way, Hornet (in her second fight) and the Hollow Knight, sharing the same father, have the same gesture to parry.
The Warrior Dreams are interesting because their fights are based on very precise effects, gimmicks in a way, which may explain their certain notoriety : Marmu is fought by juggling her, Elder Hu is accompanied by his rings, Gorb casually sends us rows of swords… Only No Eyes appears a little apart, not attacking, locked up, blinded, inexorably singing her haunting lullaby.
It is the same thing with the platforming elements that are inserted in the places : the presses in the mine in particular, although it’s a classic in platformers. The very rhythmic aspect of these parts offers a beautiful contrast with the shimmering sound of the crystals.
Even the White Palace makes sense, because it’s a challenge that takes place in the deep dream of a former palace guard, a Kingsmould : all these buzzsaws and spears are only a metaphorical protection that leads us to the Pale King, as if the guard, even in their dream, was only thinking about their function, and above all, as if the Pale King himself was only reduced to his obsession to protect the kingdom from the Infection. As for the Path of Pain, it leads to a memory of the Hollow Knight as a child with their father; when one knows their fate, it’s no longer really necessary to explain the origin of this pain : even this intense platforming section can be seen metaphorically (what do you mean, I’m overdoing it with all my metaphors ?)
Beyond the mask : animation
In a game such as Hollow Knight, which takes place in a world of insects, although anthropomorphic, you could fear that the emotions seem unreadable : all the characters are indeed wearing a mask (they have a shell), thanks to the tireless work of the Mask Maker. In spite of this, everything is perfectly readable thanks to the animation.
Even though I have already mentioned the care given to animation and its efficiency to differentiate the characters, we can go even further and find elements of narration in the animation.
A void with something, someone, inside
The little Knight is made of void, as such they have a very particular jump, floaty (with a great amplitude), almost impossible : if we look at the movement in slow motion, we have the impression that the jump is made without any impulse, and that it is artificially high – as if the hero was held at the end of a wire – to compensate for the absence of ledge grab.
It is very clear that the hero does not bend their legs before jumping, they just seems to take off from the ground, their legs bend after the jump and when they land ; it can create some very pretty platforming, quite surreal actually :
However, their stance even during the jump, and even more so when they attack downwards, shows a certain self-confidence… which is however probably only an instinct, seeing how quick they pull out their nail (the hero carries their weapon permanently in their back, but while they pull it out each time they attack, it’s only really visible when watching the game at slower speed).
It’s interesting if we compare them to Hornet ; she seems to keep her needle in her hand at all time : she’s ready to attack ; even when sitting on a bench she looks on her guard. On the other hand, the little vessel does not have this kind of attitude, which could show that they don’t necessarily anticipate the fact that they could be attacked… and yet, it seems that each of the vessels that we meet has or had a nail, as if they very quickly felt that they needed a weapon to venture out of the Abyss.
It is also interesting to watch the animation of the little vessel when they sit on a bench : after a few seconds, they seem to fall asleep ; for some, it rather seems that the vessel loses consciousness, as if they were only a puppet, when we see the speed at which they straighten up when we “wake them up”.
The new movement abilities are very well incorporated into the game : they are granted through objects we (passively, without having to equip them) wear (the mothwing cape, the mantis claw, the monarch wings) or consume (Isma’s tear, the crystal heart) : the hero appropriates Hallownest somehow ; spells are “absorbed”. I find particularly fascinating the way the hero unifies Soul and Shadow spells (besides, often in the animation of the Shadow spells their horns are deformed and get closer to the Hollow Knight’s horns, or other vessels’) :
They gain strength until they become almost overpowered : the Abyss Shriek’s animation is admirable, coupled with the sound design it perfectly translates the strength of this spell (it is the most powerful among those we possess), and it is always striking to me to see the vessel turn into a tentacled shadow, very similar to what they look like when they hit the Radiance during the final blows.
A small detail : you see the little Soul and Void bubbles when the faces disintegrate ? If you stop at 0’12…
…you’ll see that little Soul bubbles are placed at the level of the Knight’s eyes so that they’ll still look like a Shadow (whose eyes shine, a little like… Shadows, the cute little Heartless from Kingdom Hearts, except their eyes are yellow in KH). It’s not random, it’s always like that.
But if the little hero gains rather exceptional abilities, their appearance, their “mask” remains unchanged : even in the middle of a super dash, their face doesn’t change ; I think this goes well with the “tight” gameplay. We can see the difference with Soli, the playable character of Unbound : Worlds Apart, whose appearance is certainly similar to that of Hollow Knight‘s Shadows, but with a completely different treatment : the character feels emotions, there’s no doubt about it ; as for the knight, his face is somehow “eaten” by his huge eyes, but they change appearance, when he is angry or moves something heavy :
The more dynamic movements the hero wouldn’t be capable of due to their Void nature are granted thanks to objects : the wall jump is given by the Mantis Claw, and the double jump, very poetic, aerial, by the Monarch Wings : the animation is very beautiful and always coherent, since it’s a rather vertical double jump (compared to Ori’s double jump, very horizontal on the contrary) and we see the hero with their body stretched out, their eyes completely directed upwards.
We can clearly see the difference between the two jumps : no impulse for the first jump, the basic jump, whereas for the second jump, you need an impulse to flap your wings.
For me, this is what best describes the Knight’s character and their movements : they’re poetic. Their gaze seems unfathomable but we can’t bring ourselves to believe they’re evil ; they’re surrounded by mystery because we don’t know what really brings them to life and why they act as they do but they seem to possess an aura that NPCs notice. They take possession of some of Hallownest’s deepest secrets and “absorb” the kingdom by embodying all its powers in a very poetic way.
This poetry is also translated by the physics of the character themselves : there are many small details to show their movement but there’s no huge deformation (as a comparison, Ori (again !) is deformed a lot when they fall or jump, it’s understandable, they’re a spirit and the movements in the two games from the Ori franchise are much more hyperbolic, to emphasize the playful, extroverted character of the little spirit ; in Celeste too, when Madeline falls faster, she’s distorted) in the movements themselves (it’s different for the shadow spells and the shadow dash, but it’s a distortion that shows the way they absorb the kingdom’s spells and story).
Similarly, the rhythm of the knight’s movements remains calm ; some elements require a charge, which will introduce a “release” effect, but not the movement itself : Hornet, Silksong‘s playable character, is animated differently and especially has a different rhythm, more focused on tension and release, for example with the grappling effect of her needle. She has much more dynamic movements (she runs, has a ledge grab, jumps with impulse), even acrobatic : she notably has a twist (visible in the game’s trailer).
It’s very logical : she’s not made of Void, she’s an assumed fighter, she’s older and has her own backstory : Silksong‘s gameplay promises to be very versatile. And when she jumps, she has an impulse :
But if I’m talking about Silksong, maybe this is because it’s time to end this series about Hollow Knight… See you tomorrow for the conclusion of this week dedicated to Team Cherry’s masterpiece.