Hollow Knight: Lifeblood expansion is free and out now

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Hollow Knight incites a bit of debate around the site. As John brought up in his review last year: what do you do with a game that is genuinely good but rather unoriginal? It’s a Metroidvania game that a lot of us picked up because it was simply the most recent Metroidvania game, and that’s not the best excuse for buying a game. In the year since launch, Australian studio Team Cherry has met this criticism by consistently adding new, free DLC to the title, with each pack helping to define and improve on the base game. Today, Hollow Knight: Lifeblood is available, and if you already own the game the update is probably installed.

Hollow Knight: Lifeblood represents many months of under-the-hood improvements, especially balances and bug fixes, along with new sound effects, voices, and a brand new boss. Custom map markers are finally introduced, which seems like the sort of feature that a Metroidvania game should’ve had since the start, but for newcomers that’s a fantastic add-on.

For Steam and GOG Galaxy users, your game will automatically update to include the new Lifeblood content. Humble and GOG DRM free users can download an updated version in the next 24 hours.

Gods & Glory, a much more substantial add-on pack, is coming on the heels of this release. Hopefully, when all is said and done, revisiting the finalized version of Hollow Knight will be a more rewarding and defined experience than the original release. Every little bit helps, and it’s hard to argue with the whole, you know, “free” part.

30 Comments

  1. narbareck says:

    Somehow on this site this game seems to get a bit more flak than it probably deserves. You make it sound as if you have to feel bad for playing a game that’s not ground-breaking or gimmicky in some way. This game is remarkably competent at what it does so the result is more than the sum of its parts.

    • thenevernow says:

      This. I would be really happy to buy and play unoriginal games that meet my (outdated and out of fashion) tastes. Good old, well done, more of the same. I want more GTA, but Rockstar only make one game every 5 or 6 years and Saints Row went Goat Simulator (played and loved Sleeping Dogs). I want some God Of War, but no one makes anything like that for the PC (played and loved Marlow Briggs). I want more Tomb Raider (yes, the current one)… any suggestions?

    • dethtoll says:

      Yeah, I’ve never understood Walker’s argument. First of all, God forbid a game mimic a successful genre. Second of all I think HK stands well enough on its own on multiple fronts, and frankly this all reeks of Walker deciding he didn’t like it in half an hour’s play and stubbornly refusing to admit he was too quick to judge.

      What makes all of this particularly galling is the fact that on that pointless Metroidvanias list he included Axiom Verge. Axiom Verge is a damn good game, but it’s far more derivative of Metroid than even the most feverishly obstinate review of HK could ever imagine, to the point where much of its art assets resemble that of literal Metroid games.

    • Caiman says:

      This game is far better than the nth iteration of battle royale games that RPS seems obsessed with covering these days. I miss the old RPS that used to champion great indie games like this.

  2. Neurotic says:

    The backlash against John and his review of the base game still makes me shudder. Anyway, now I know what that 900-odd mb of update was the other day, thanks Brock!

  3. Randy_Butternubs says:

    It’s true that the basic game mechanics are not original but they are extremely tight and well executed. I feel that rather than describe them as ‘unoriginal’ it would be truer to say that Hollow Knight distills decades of Metroidvania down to its brilliant core.

    Also, the setting, atmosphere and aesthetics are pretty original. It is one of, if not the, most beautiful games I’ve ever played. It manages to make the world feel truly alive using the bare minimum of exposition.

  4. milligna says:

    That is way too Corel Painter

  5. Phasma Felis says:

    Originality makes a good game better. It won’t save a bad game, and the lack of it won’t stop a great game from being great.

    Hollow Knight is gorgeous, challenging, varied, atmospheric, and has *amazing* writing. I hate that all those things are judged less important that nebulous “originality.”

  6. Merus says:

    The Hollow Knight review was when I finally took a Polaroid of John and wrote ‘Don’t Believe His Lies’ underneath it. John is of course entitled to his opinion.

    But Hollow Knight taught me that a Metroidvania lives and dies on its foreshadowing, and while most games in this genre use mechanical teasers, we’ve seen so many of them at this point that it’s hard not to spot the jump two lengths high as a sign. Hollow Knight instead foreshadows discovery, and then just starts blindsiding you over and over again. It doesn’t need surprising new abilities (which is lucky), not with the intimidatingly intricate world it has.

  7. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Lol, Hollow Knight is the best PC metroidvania in years.
    The level-building is 2D-Dark Souls and most rivals can’t hold a candle here. If they made you drop the currency on death it would easily be the best souls-like.
    The gameplay is unoriginal? The genre is named metroid-vania for a reason. If I read say roguelike I expect a game like Rogue or Nethack, Stone Soup, Angband, Adom, ToME etc.
    Strangely Farcry 5 doesn’t draw this criticism which I didn’t play but would probably hate due to the reported ridiculous deluge of enemy encounters.
    While after years I’d expect John’s articles to be always contrarian the “14 best metroidvanias”-piece was frankly missleading and the reasoning given made no sense.
    Axiom Verge was great, it made the list and is essentially Metroid carbon-copy.
    Like I say best 10 open world-RPGs in the 2010s and not include Skyrim or mention it. Everyone has an opinion of course but yeah is it a helpful one?

    • Nevard says:

      I’d have disqualified Axiom Verge purely for the fact that it contained a baffling wealth of completely pointless alternate weapons alone.

    • AntonioMontegio says:

      Technically Dark Souls is a 3D metroidvania in its structure, nowhere is that more clear than playing Salt & Sanctuary “the 2D Dark Souls” that is literally a metroidvania.

  8. bacon seeker says:

    I can’t decide which is my favorite part of this game–the sublime soundtrack, or those little grubs that hop up and down and “meep” when you rescue them

  9. Fuligin says:

    I don’t really get the argument that it’s unoriginal in the first place. Sure, it’s a metroidvania, but I can’t think of any other title in that genre with HK’s excellent combat mechanics, the customization of the badge system, or that wonderful atmosphere that somehow combines cuteness and Dark Souls-esque decay. it’s a fricken GOAT gem already.

    I’m not normally one to get Mad Online About Games, but it is kind of weird and galling how rps consistently treats this game like some deeply flawed work in progress

    • mitrovarr says:

      Yeah, and I dont get how it’s unoriginal while other games around it aren’t considered as such. Axiom Verge, while a game I really enjoyed, rips off Metroid. A lot. Owlboy is ultimately not very original. The idea of carrying around people who shoot, etc., sounds original, but it really just boils down to different weapons. I don’t really think Ori is particularly original, and a lot of what is original (like the weird sparking attack) wasn’t a good idea.

      • AntonioMontegio says:

        True that + Owlboy whilst fine and good looking is painfully lazy in game mechanics – not even trying, easily the most overhyped metroidvania i’ve played.

  10. Al Bobo says:

    What a strange post. Hollow Knight was a treat to play right from the start and those devs are just making that diamond of a game shine even brighter. And it looks like readers here agree with that notion.
    I can only imagine what kind of RPS articles I would see, if they had dared to ask a penny for all that DLC they have made.
    Honestly, RPS staff should be ashamed of themselves.

  11. H. Vetinari says:

    what do you do with a game that is genuinely good but rather unoriginal?

    on RPS you rate it as the best RPG ever.

  12. Shazbut says:

    Actually John secretly loves Hollow Knight and his apparent dislike of it is really a selfless way to give the game greater recognition and more sales from the backlash against him. See also: Inside.

  13. Mandrake42 says:

    It’s good to see a dev have this level of longer term support for a game. I have kind of only scratched the surface of this game due to too little time and too many games in my pile of shame. Nice to know that when I finally get time though it will be an all round better experience.

  14. scythecow says:

    Influential games are important; people take those ideas, combine them with other ideas and improve on them. The most refined games in a genre are super derivative, not super innovative: The Witcher 3, Dark Souls 3, GTA 5, Cuphead, Super Mario Odyssey, Breath of the Wild, Hollow Knight, and so on. These are all fairly recent critically acclaimed games that don’t really have any individual thing that had not already been featured prominently in a less successful game.

    Hollow Knight would be a genuinely good game just with the combat mechanics, boss fights, sound design and level design. Then it throws in a hundred different enemies, beautiful artwork and soundtrack, mixes in some ideas popularized by Dark Souls and Super Metroid, and executes it all extremely well. Finally, they keep updating the game with free new content.

    “Good” isn’t a generous enough word for this title. I haven’t seen any real complaints outside of backtracking and difficulty. Obviously one is a staple of metroidvanias and the other is subjective. Opinions are all well and good, but the game is objectively easily one of the very best of the genre.

  15. djvecchitto says:

    In my opinion these types of DLC fundamentally don’t work with the Metroidvania genre. Sure, bug fixes, tweaks, “some new voices,” and one new boss sound good; but there’s no way I’m playting through the entire long, grueling, sprawling singleplayer campaign to experience a small handful of new things.

    • Randy_Butternubs says:

      You aren’t wrong but there is enough mystery and history in Hollow Knight to justify a replay just to try to better understand the world of Hallownest.

      After finishing the game at ~35 hours I almost started over in order to better understand the story. It was only the news of the upcoming expansions that made me hold off so I’m waiting for the full, final, finished version before diving back in.

      • djvecchitto says:

        Is there really enough history?… There are certainly mysteries, but unlike Dark Souls, I’m not convinced that there actually is a comprehensive and meaningful history that connects them. (There are hour-long youtube videos where fans dive into the history, but they involve a lot of conjecture and guessing)

  16. MazokuRanma says:

    I was always mystified that Axiom Verge made the list while Hollow Knight did not, even more so because of the reasoning. If being original was such a critical factor then Axiom Verge absolutely fails that test, though I did love it and think it’s an excellent game, same as I do of Hollow Knight.

    About my only complaint for Hollow Knight was the King’s Palace. The massive focus on platforming just didn’t fit the rest of the game. I got through it, and I love difficult platformers such as Super Meat Boy, but I wasn’t looking to play a platformer when I picked up the game and that definitely subtracted a bit from the experience. I’m still looking forward to doing a replay once all the DLC is out.

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