Hollow Knight made quite the splash when it released in 2017, during a time when the industry was experiencing a glut of indy two-dimensional games. Hollow Knight’s uniquely dark aesthetic helped it stand out. Years after its release, and the enthusiasm for the game hasn’t relented, thanks to a small but dedicated group of core gamers who want to recreate the feeling of having experienced Hollow Knight for the first time. The following are 19 games that will help gamers do just that.
19 Awesome Games That Play Just Like 'Hollow Knight'
This one might raise some eyebrows but keep an open mind. Yes Bloodborne, at face value, couldn’t be more different than Hollow Knight. One is a two-dimensional platformer, while the other is a three dimensional hack-and-slash. The two games however have a lot in common. And I’m not just talking about their dark moody atmospheres. There is a reason why fans of Hollow Knight have called it two dimensional Dark Souls. The enemies and obstacles put before the player in Hollow Knight are very similar to Dark Souls games. The variety and difficulty of bosses is another way the two games echo one another. Bloodborne in particular, with its emphasis on fast-paced gameplay that emphasizes dodging enemy attacks and striking at the opportune time. If they ever did make a two-dimensional Souls game they would at the very least take a couple of pages from Hollow Knight’s playbook.
2. 'Shovel Knight'
Shovel Knight is the Game of Thrones to Hollow Knight’s Lord of the Rings. Both are considered the pillars of the side-scrolling platformer genre. Really the only difference between the two games is the art styles. Both games inspired sequels in which side characters from the original game are put in the center. Shovel Knight and Hollow Knight set the standard for indy platformers and the genre is better off for it.
3. ‘Dream Alone’
What would you likely get if you had Tim Burton take a break from filmmaking to make a video game with his signature dark brooding style? Well, it would probably be Hollow Knight but Dream Alone is a close second. Dream Alone is another platformer set in a dark, atmospheric environment. The game is a bit darker than the cartoonish violence of the Hollow Knight, but fans of the latter will feel right at home with Dream Alone’s gameplay.
Another visually stunning game that blends Hollow Knight with more modern Legend of Zelda games. Tunic mirrors Hollow Knight by taking place in a world that manages to be small and large at the same time. The player takes control of a small fox who sets off on a journey that puts them in conflict with enemies of all shapes and sizes. The game’s difficulty seems to keep in line with the player’s experience. This gives players the chance to take in the games amazing graphics which, at times, seems to flirt with reality.
Like Hollow Knight, Stela is a game that revels in its scenery. Oftentimes, the titular character is barely noticeable as the camera pans out to reveal levels as meticulously designed as they are massive. No two stages are the same and, at times, it’s difficult to believe that you are even playing the same game. Much like Hollow Knight, Stela is as much of a visual experience as it is a game.
One part Hollow Knight and one part Dungeons and Dragons, Chasm is a game that perfectly blends the side-scrolling platforming with RPG elements. Best described as two dimensional Skyrim, the game sends players on a journey across a medieval world to raid dungeons and fight all manner of ghouls and monsters. While the aesthetic isn’t as dark as Hollow Knights, it is just as atmospheric with the background setting the tone for each stage.
7. ‘Mark of the Ninja’
From samurais to ninjas. Mark of the ninja is another game that matches Hollow Knight in terms of critical acclaim but doesn’t quite measure up commercially. Mark of the Ninja’s relative obscurity, however, is not indicative of its quality. Both Hollow Knight and Mark of the Ninja utilize dark atmospheres but while Hollow Knight has not stealth element, Mark of the Ninja is almost entirely about stealth. The main character utilizes all their tools to stay hidden even as the dispatch enemies in some of the most clever ways imaginable. It is a bit of a departure from the traditional platformer formula but it works.
8. ‘Katana Zero’
One of the most underrated games on this list, Katana Zero did not make as large as a splash as Hollow Knight. But ask anyone who has played the game and they will tell you it deserves all the plaudits Hollow Knight received and then some. Like Hollow Knight, the atmosphere is a key element but while Hollow Knight is dark and mysterious, Katana Zero uses an aesthetic best described as pre-cyberpunk urban. It’s a story that isn’t shy about showing the bleak side of urban life. The main characters in both games are deep and somehow relatable despite having few if any words.
9. ‘Sundered: Eldritch Edition’
Sundered: Eldritch Edition is in an interesting place. Often compared to Hollow Knight, like most two dimensional sidescrolling platformers are, the game is often considered to be in Hollow Knights shadow. Most are not willing to admit that although the game isn’t a masterpiece like Hollow Knight, it is, at times, more fun.
Sundered: Eldritch Edition is as easily comparable to Hollow Knight as it is to cult classics like Guardian Heroes.
10. ‘Metroid: Samus Returns’
And speaking of Metroid, there wouldn’t likely be a Hollow Knight without the original Metroid. That is, by no means, a knock on Hollow Knight. The same can be said for a vast swath of games that take their cues from the iconic platformer. The remake for Nintendo 3DS updates the game with enhanced graphics and slightly tweaked controls that doesn’t so far as to alienate Metroid purists. With Nintendo seeming to refocus on this franchise now is a good time for fans to get back into the swing of things.
11. ‘Axiom Verge’
A game that looks and plays like a cross between Hollow Knight and the original Metroid. Axiom Verge intentionally leans on nostalgia with graphics that are identical to the original Metroid game. In fact, nostalgia seems to be one of the game’s primary draws thanks to several callbacks and allusions to Metroid.
But while the developers clearly had their eyes set on the past, much of the game, mainly the controls are reminiscent of Hollow Knight. While Metroid was slower and contemplative, Axiom Verge and Hollow Knight are faster paced. While Metroid’s story was, as controversial as it is to admit, threadbare, both Hollow Knight and Axiom Verge manage to paint quite the narratives with minimal tools. Axiom Verge is very much a bridge between Metroid and Hollow Knight.
What do you get when you take Hollow Knight and add color, comedy and a dash of luchador culture? Despite Guacamelee’s many similarities to Hollow Knight, gameplay and genre specifically, it manages to be a completely different beast. This is largely because the game doesn’t take itself as seriously as Hollow Knight, which makes for a more whimsical experience. Guacamelee’s characters are larger than life and the characters, form the enemies to the bosses are well thought out and designed. It’s little wonder, much like Hollow Knight, fans demanded a sequel soon after the original’s release.
13. ‘Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’
And speaking of Castlevania, choosing which game from the long-running franchise-best mirrors Hollow Knight is difficult. The 1997 release of Symphony of the Night has gameplay that is most similar to Hollow Knight. In fact, almost every aspect of the game is similar to Hollow Knight except the difficulty. Symphony of the Night comes from the era of games in which arcades relied on developers making their games difficult to facilitate a steady stream of quarters. While Hollow Knight has some difficult spots few are as punishing as the entirety of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
14. ‘Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night’
When Hollow Knight first hit the market, the one game it was compared to most was Castlevania and for good reason. Developers cited Castlevania as an inspiration for Hollow Knight. If Castlevania is Hollow Knight’s parent then Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is its long-lost sibling. Both games heavily feature platforming and combat but while Hollow Knight has its own distinct style, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night does it’s best to visually out-Castlevania Castlevania. In parts it works in others it gets to be a bit over the top but overall Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a solid addition to this list.
An unexpected commercial and critical hit Cuphead is one of the few games on this list that can rival the success of Hollow Knight. While the two games are indy platformers, one relies heavily on the atmosphere while the other treats it’s cartoonish aesthetic as an afterthought. In Cuphead the gameplay takes center stage as the player has to fight through hordes of cartoonishly difficult enemies very reminiscent of Dark Souls. But for all their difference Cuphead and Hollow Knight are cut from the same cloth. Developers from both games clearly had an eye for detail and it shows in both titles.
16. ‘Ori and the Blind Forest’
Ori and the Blind Forest is a game that, like Hollow Knight, wears its art style on its sleeve. From the moment the game starts, players are treated to otherworldly visuals. The Ori and Hollow Knight series represent some of the most visually stunning games released in recent years. Ori in particular, with it, flashes of color and clever use of light subvert the idea of amazing graphics only coming in three dimensions. Ori and its contemporaries represent some of the best arguments for games-as-art.
17. ‘Dead Cells’
While Dead Cells is an indy two-dimensional platformer like Hollow Knight, its success isn’t as universal. The contingent of those who love the game is only slightly larger and not nearly as vocal as those who say the game is uninspired. While Dead Cells does take cues from older platformers, the same can be said for more critically acclaimed platformers. Dead Cells fans love the game’s intense gameplay that relies on speed above everything else. This has made the game a favorite among speedrunners who push the gameplay to new and unexpected heights. While it’s overall quality can be debated, Dead Cells has without a doubt earned a spot on this list.
18. ‘Hyper Light Drifter’
Another critically acclaimed indy game that features a mysterious warrior figure fighting through hordes of enemies. Hollow Knight and Hyper Light Drifter have as many similarities as they do differences. One utilizes a darker atmosphere while the other makes color and digital sprites a significant part of its gameplay. Hyper Light Drifter is for those who like their platforming experiences with a dollop of 16-bit nostalgia.
19. ‘Hollow Knight: Silksong’
Silksong is the obvious choice for those wanting to recapture that Hollow Knight feel. The game takes several cues from the original Hollow Knight game and improves upon them. Well, this is according to Nintendo game developers. The game has yet to be released to the public, but what has been seen of the game is nothing short of stunning. Parts of the game are more colorful than its predecessor and the gameplay appears to be faster. Developers have been working a long time on this followup and here’s hoping the release is as polished as it looks.