Hollow Knight is finally available for Nintendo Switch, which means that many more people are playing it than it was on PC last year. People like me! I put in the game for almost 40 hours, and I have some tips for anyone who starts.
For the most part, Hollow Knight is simple. Explore the buried civilization of Hallnest. Try to reach every corner of the map. Do not jump on spikes. Hit enemies until they are dead. Do not let the boss touch you. Watch for acid lakes. However, there are still some advices that I would like to convey to anyone who starts. Here goes.
Stay into the wee hours of the morning.
This is not a gameplay tip, but a tip on how best to honor Hollow Knight . For the first hour or two, I was not nearly as excited about the game as it was when it first opened. Hollow Knight 's opening area, the Forgotten Crossroads, is also one of his most boring. The knight begins with a limited movement set. The game is instantly challenging, and it's hard to come alive from one side of the map to another. Stay tuned.
Beat the first boss. Continue through the second area, Greenpath, and defeat the second boss you'll meet there. Shortly thereafter, you have unlocked the first two traversal mechanics and the game finally begins to open. It takes a while, but if you get over that initial hump, you have a damn good ride. These hours are not a bad time, exactly, they are just not as engaging as the remaining 90% of the game.
Talk to everyone.
The backstory of Hallnest is much more interesting than I expected Therefore, I recommend talking to any non-player character at every opportunity. Many characters move through mini-narratives throughout the game, and their stories add an unexpected amount of wealth.
Do not be discouraged by the big, tough opponent on the right.
If you fall into the opening area and go to the right, you will soon come across a huge guy with a giant bat. He seems impossible to beat. I'm sure if you're good enough in this kind of game, you can defeat him right away, but do not worry that you can take him down until you get some upgrades. This guy is considered an optional challenge and does not show how tough the rest of the enemies are in the area. Keep in mind, however, that you can just take a hit and then run past it if you want.
In combat stay in the air and attack.
The knight can attack in four directions, and his decline-stroke is easily the most effective tool. Many bosses in the game are huge, and if you just touch them, that costs a hitpoint. It's good to start practicing, jumping over something and repeatedly attacking to get multiple hits. This step is also useful in some of the hardcore (optional, fortunately) platform challenges. It may seem intimidating – I am a scrub at platformers, and I was not looking forward to mastering such a reflex-oriented move – but with practice you will get it.
Use custom map pins.
The Hollow Knight card is unusually large and full of closed areas and secrets. It pays to grind the 100 Geo ( Hollow Knight money) you need to buy a set of custom card pins from the card store, which you can use to mark locked areas for future reference. I waited a long time to buy pins and found that I could not remember where some barriers were when I finally needed the upgrade to get around them.
Your notes are not. I need to be very detailed, but it can be helpful to have a short list of things you've seen, areas you've visited, and what each one of your individual pins means. Trust me when I say this game is really big, and while you can just play around and do a lot more backtracking (not necessarily a bad approach!), Save yourself time by taking notes.
Play with headphones, or increase the volume ..
I have a feeling that some people play switch games in handheld mode without sound or with the built-in audio sound. I recommend playing Hollow Knight with headphones or with the sound turned up, and not just because the music and sound design are fantastic. (But they are.) The real reason to play with headphones is that audio queues play a big role in the design of the game. You will hear little larvae screaming for help, enemies running around, objects glowing in the dark, and boss attack signals you all miss when you turn down the volume. There are many destructible walls and secret passages scattered around Hallnest, and if you can hear an enemy in an area but can not see it, the game may tell you that you are looking for a fragile wall.
Find the card maker in each new area.
Every time you enter a new region, your first priority should be a map. Cornifer, the cartographer, operates a card shop in Dirtmouth with his wife, and he sits in each area, happily writing cards. You can see that he is close when you start to see pieces of paper lying on the floor and you will hear him buzzing. Find him and buy his card. If you unlock a new section without first purchasing a map from him in the previous section, you can buy all the maps you missed in the shop in Dirtmouth. (He leaves a note in that area in each area he's visited, which can be a little confusing as he leaves it, whether or not you've already bought the map of the area from him.)
Rescue The Larvae  From the beginning, you will begin to find these little maggots caught in glasses calling for help. There are a lot of them in the game, some in sight, others hiding behind devilish platform challenges. You get rewards to free them, and you should save as many as you can. (You'll have to find out for yourself how to get the rewards, just keep trying.) Sometimes your reward will be just a bit of geo, but every now and then you'll get some other essential stimuli and upgrade materials. Whenever you hear a grub scream, you have to track it down and free it.
There is a control link to check the entire map.
Holding down the left shoulder button opens a map of your immediate area. If you want to see the full map of the game, you can access it from the pause menu. However, double-tapping the left shoulder button will take you directly to the full map without having to scroll through your inventory menus. It took a while for me to realize this, though I may have missed an early tutorial pop-up. It's definitely a good time to save as the game opens and you want to find out regularly which other areas are nearby.
Charms are more versatile than you think.
The more you play, the more charms you will unlock. You will also begin to find and buy Charm scores that can equip you more at once. At first I thought that spells are small, passive tweaks and that I would end up with the same charms that are out in the game. It turns out that the charm system is deeper and more interesting. Some stimuli will give you powerful benefits and others will dramatically influence your style of play. I have some loadouts, depending on what I do, and I recommend taking the time to find out what works for you. Here are my loadouts at the moment:
Exploration: Grubsong, Mischievous Compass, Swarm Collect, Longnail / Sign of Pride, Souleater / Soul Catcher
Boss Battles: Grubsong, Soul Catcher, Robust Shell, Quick Focus, Thorns of Agony
These are fairly ordinary pieces of equipment, but do not be afraid to experiment with some of the strange charms, as they have many special uses. For example, Hiveblood can be great if you are facing tough platform challenges.
These loadouts require 10 Charm scores, but you obviously will not have that many to start with. I recommend prioritizing ways to increase soul gains, then speed healing, then everything else. The more scores you unlock, the less significant, but funny charm you can outfit. A charm that has always been equipped in boss fights …
Quick Focus is a real charm.
Quick Focus is probably the most useful spell in Hollow Knight . You can boost your health much faster, which is crucial in boss battles. When combined with Stalwart Shell, you can often complete your healing while still invincible. This combo is the next thing Hollow Knight has to force players into evil boss battles, and if you're not a super-capable player (shaking hands), that's a godsend.
There's a Big, Hidden DLC Quest Series
When I bought Hollow Knight on Switch, I did not realize that I got a bunch of free DLCs that development team Cherry had previously done for the PC Version had published. Some of these things will seem seamless; There are only a few bosses and items that were not in play at launch. However, there is an important story called DLC The Grimm Troop which adds new characters, traders, spells and quests. However, it does not add these things passively; You have to track it down and start actively. (You'll need a few mid game upgrades to start it, so do not worry that you'll accidentally start it or something). I do not care to find the challenge to find it if you're the one who likes to track down secrets, but I'll offer a hint and a link. Note: It starts near the start of the game. Link: Here is a Steam thread that explains where to go and what to do.
Follow these tips when fighting the harder bosses.
I've recently written a list of general tips for fighting tough video game bosses and Hollow Knight has his share of tough bosses. So, read this post and follow these tips. Take breaks. Watch replays. Create lists. Do something different, either in-game or in real life. Come back when you have improved your equipment. In particular, you can improve the damage to your nail several times over the course of the game, and some bosses are much easier if you do not have to land so many hits to kill them.
If you are not sure what to do next, do not look for it!
This is my last tip: Avoid using online tutorials and walkthroughs! Hollow Knight is a surprising and rewarding game, and I've always regretted looking for a Charm score or upgrade material. A few times I would have discovered the upgrade if I had simply continued to play normally, and if I had checked, I would have spoiled the pleasure of the reward.
If you're not sure what to do next, just look at your map and try to discover door openings you did not go through. There is no hurry. In this game, more than a single destructible wall can expose a vast new area full of challenges and secrets. There is no better feeling than defying a difficult challenge and being rewarded with the very thing you need or want, or better, with a wild upgrade that you did not even know existed. Do not spoil these moments for yourself by looking them up and finding them.
I hope these tips are helpful for you while venturing into Hallownest. If you have more tips, I hope you share them below.