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Why I waited 18 months to play Hollow Knight

The struggles of trying to experience something in exactly the right way

Team Cherry
Russ Frushtick is the director of special projects, and he has been covering the world of video games and technology for over 15 years. He co-founded Polygon in 2012.

I knew how much I would love Hollow Knight. And then I waited a year and a half to play it.

When Hollow Knight launched in February of 2017, it scratched just about every one of my video game itches: hand-drawn 2D art, massive explorablable world, challenging combat and a subtle, well-written story. I’ve always loved Metroidvanias and the critical response seemed to imply that Hollow Knight was one of the best ever made.

So I waited.

You see, just a month before its February release date, Hollow Knight was announced for Nintendo Switch. And as much as I love playing certain games on my PC, a Metroid-inspired open-world adventure starring bugs just begged to be played on Nintendo’s console.

I wanted to bask it in. To experience it while kicking back on my couch or in handheld mode in the midst of my lengthy commute. I wanted to relive fond memories of playing Metroid 2 in the backseat of a station wagon with an awful Nuby screenlight guiding the way.

Part of this desire to wait was out of guilt. I ended up playing a ton of Stardew Valley on a variety of platforms before it was officially announced for Switch. I knew in my heart there was really only one platform that could pull off that game perfectly, but I wasn’t able to stop myself. And look, Stardew Valley is an excellent game no matter where you play it. But it is just a magical experience on Switch, a warm cup of peppermint tea as you watch the snow fall outside your window and await your heavy strawberry investment.

I ended up replaying Stardew on Switch later and yeah, it was great, but it wasn’t the same as playing it through the first time. And I wanted that experience for Hollow Knight.

Little did I know what sort of wait I was in for. Consider that Stardew Valley was announced for Switch in February of 2017 (a month after Hollow Knight’s Switch announcement). Six months later, Stardew released. Certainly one would expect a similar port would be a comparable development cycle, right?

The months ticked by. Occasionally Team Cherry, Hollow Knight’s tiny developer, would post progress updates on the Switch version, but they were rare and tantalizing. By January 2018, over a year had passed and there was still no sign of Hollow Knight’s arrival beyond a short gameplay video. And, criminally, it looked just terrific on the platform. It reinforced my decision to wait, but made the wait all-the-more punishing.

The last update came in March of 2018. Still no news on when we could expect the game, but everything was looking great. Sounds like it could be any minute!

Or four more months. When E3 rolled around this year, there were plenty of rumors floating around about Fortnite and Smash Bros. Hollow Knight was certainly not at the top of anyone’s speculative list. And yet, poof. Sandwiched among the huge announcements was the shocking news that, yes, Hollow Knight was out right that minute. The wait was over.

So was it worth it? Hell yes it was.

I’ve played every Metroid game, every Souls game, every Symphony of the Night-esque Castlevania game. Hollow Knight is unquestionably the finest Metroidvania ever made. Explaining why really deserves its own piece, but for now I’ll say that the Switch, with its combination of portability and big-screen gaming, is the perfect home for it. Hollow Knight was able to seep into every bit of free time I had, and I nibbled at it like a fine steak.

No guides, no walkthroughs. I was going to piece Hollow Knight’s mysteries together the same way I did with Metroid 2. And so I played it on the subway as it cruised under the East River, I played it on my couch while half-watching Netflix drivel and I played on my TV with a Pro Controller, trying to finish the hardest of the game’s arena challenges.

And as I finished off the final boss in the waiting room of my eye doctor’s office, knew my investment had paid off. Hollow Knight on Switch is everything I was hoping for. Some things are clearly worth the wait.