The Hollow Knight Franchise is Basically Dark Souls and Elden Ring for Indie Games

February 2019 marked the beginning of the long wait for Hollow Knight: Silksong. Just like fans of FromSoftware's Souls franchise are waiting for Elden Ring, fans of Hollow Knight continue to endure an even longer wait for any updates or news on Team Cherry's new IP.

Since Hollow Knight's release in 2017, it has been compared to the Souls franchise for its difficulty, interweaving map, and rest point mechanic. These comparisons are not unwarranted, as the Souls franchise re-introduced the Metroidvania style of level design. The Hollow Knight franchise takes from these ideas and reapplies them to its 2D platforming Metroidvania. However, the games have more in common than what is seen at first glance. In fact, the Hollow Knight fanbase is essentially the indie equivalent of the Souls franchise's fanbase.

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There is nothing quite like the long wait for a video game. For FromSoftware and Team Cherry fans, that wait is exacerbated because any news reveals much more than originally planned. For example, fans waiting for the Elden Ring gameplay trailer got what they wanted at E3 2021. With a trailer and a release date scheduled, fans are more than satisfied with what has been revealed because it means they can begin digging for lore, gameplay elements, and world design by analyzing every frame. Each fandom has go-to YouTube channels such as mossbag and Vaatividya that analyze Hollow Knight and Souls lore while also breaking down content updates.

During the wait for Elden Ring updates, fans of past FromSoftware began creating fanart and boss concepts based on folklore. Similarly, the Hollow Knight community has been coming up with its own concepts that would fit neatly into Silksong, such as bosses, locations, and lore. Like the Souls fanbase, the community of gamers waiting for Silksong has been busy analyzing every bit of content already known, such as the announcement trailer released back in 2019.

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It is no secret that the Souls franchise influences some of the mechanics found in Hollow Knight, yet the game has its own unique design, with platforming being the main vehicle of exploration. Unlike Dark Souls and adjacent FromSoftware games, Hollow Knight utilizes powerups and collectibles as an essential part of the exploration. For example, a player can technically run all the way through Dark Souls without any special or significant items; the only significant plot progression item in Dark Souls is the Lord Vessel acquired after defeating Ornstein and Smough. Conversely, players must find items such as the mantis claw to reach areas in Hollow Knight that were once unreachable.

With Hollow Knight being as unique as it is, it is no surprise that it inspires other games such as the recently announced Metroidvania, Crowsworn. The lead developer behind Mongoose Rodeo has also gone on record to say that Hollow Knight is an essential influencer. The similarities are apparent from looking at the gameplay trailer. From the 2D Metroidvania style of gameplay, all the way down to the art style mirroring the hand-drawn aesthetic, Crowsworn has Hollow Knight written all over it. This is just one reason how Team Cherry's IP has become as influential as FromSoftware's.

There is something to be said about the accessibility of both Hollow Knight and the Souls franchise. It is no secret that both games are hard to beat and harder to master, yet Hollow Knight has a much simpler style of gameplay that balances the difficulty for new players. For example, Dark Souls goes out of its way to prove its difficulty to players by having the first true enemy in the Undead Asylum be a massive and intimidating demon. Conversely, Hollow Knight has a beginning that allows players to explore and experiment with the platforming mechanics with low-level mob enemies strewn about. For accessibility's sake, Hollow Knight has a much lower bar for entry. Anyone who has played a Metroidvania or 2D platformer would get through the first area of the game with ease.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the Souls franchise. For first-time players, the first area of any Soulsborne entry is filled with mobs that deal significant damage, topped with a boss that will most likely take multiple tries to beat. The controls for the Souls franchise are also more unique than most games, with each hand being assigned to the left and right bumpers. The player must also grapple with learning how to dodge roll, stamina awareness, and much more. While it speaks to the uniqueness of the Souls franchise, the Hollow Knight franchise has more appeal to the average player. This point may make Hollow Knight seem less like a Souls game, but it does have its own bar of difficulty that players will inevitably reach in the mid-game. With the similarities in mind, players waiting for Silksong will have Elden Ring to look forward to, as well as updates from Crowsworn.

Hollow Knight: Silksong is in development for PC and Switch.

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