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TAY! Weekend!!! Whatcha Playing?

Plodding (but not Hollow) Knight.

Happy Weekend TAY!

I played a good chunk of Hollow Knight last week while I slowly recovered from a nasty cold that seemed to just keep hanging on (thankfully it’s almost gone now).

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There are many brilliant design elements in Hollow Knight, but I can’t escape the feeling that I’m not really having any fun with it.

The level design and map layout are probably the best aspects of Hollow Knight. There is a wonderful sense of exploration and I love the way they fill in the map only after you’ve returned to a checkpoint. In true Metroidvania-style, Hollow Knight provides a complex map with many different areas. This map is slowly opened up as the player acquires new powers that allow them to access previously unreachable areas. It is a fair bit of fun and the great navigation upgrades keep things interesting.

Too bad I can’t seem to click with the platforming mechanics.

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I thought I was going mad when I was comparing others praise for Hollow Knight to my own experience, but then I found others online with similar problems. There is something off in the timing with Hollow Knight and I think much of this is due to input lag with the game. This was exacerbated by having v-sync turned on in the PC version and turning off the v-sync seems to have helped a little, but I still can’t get used to the clunky mechanics.

The physics might be partially to blame here. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something definitely feels off. There is a weird floatiness or slipperiness to the controls. Even after many hours of play, I still find I misjudge many jumps and botch the timing of many other controls.

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These problems are compounded by the artwork and the lack of animations. Everything is a little stiff and it feels like more robust sprite animations to your character might have helped in tightening up the feel of the platforming.

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It took me a good while to become accustomed to the edges of the platforms themselves. As you can see from the picture above, where I am standing on the edge of the platform, my character’s integration with the surface is slightly off. This isn’t always the case, but it happens enough to make the whole thing feel weird. The addition of animations showing the player about to fall off the ledge would certainly help here, maybe even making the edges slightly sticky too...though that could mess up the flow.

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This problem of the visuals not matching the collisions is found throughout the game and requires the player to adjust their timing. The length of your sword seems to vary depending on the direction of attack and it took me a little while to understand the timing when using a downward attack to bounce off certain objects. It does not appear as if the attack distance required to bounce matches what I am seeing on screen, but I’m almost used to it now (though, I bet I still screw it up 20% of the time).

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Add to all this a repetitive combat system, lots of uninteresting backtracking between checkpoints that are spaced (too?) widely apart, and an overall plodding speed to Hollow Knight and I’m not really feeling it. The atmosphere and the music are great, but I’d much rather be playing Ori or Super Metroid again.

I have a lot of studying to help my kid with this weekend as well as UFC 243 to watch on Saturday. Hopefully, I’ll get some more time with Hollow Knight this weekend and find some time to play more Dying Light with my kid (though that is not too likely).

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So, what are you playing this weekend?

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