How To

How to play Hollow Knight

Troy Zaher


Hollow Knight is a beautifully created two-dimensional game. As the Hollow Knight, you are dropped into a grim world armed only with your nail. There are countless levels to explore as you progress through the game. You’ll also find that a lot of deaths will mark your path. Some will be your slain enemies, and other times it will be your death, especially early on in the game.

The game is available across all popular platforms such as Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows, and Mac computers.

In this guide on how to play Hollow Knight, we will cover the basics of the game and provide you with some helpful tips to get your journey started.

How to Play Hollow Knight

You will be dropped into the world with not much information on getting started. You can go either left or right from your starting point. It is important to remember that the game features a labyrinthian world filled with many different nooks and crannies, so it is easy to get lost. Here is how to get started with Hollow Knight.


Focus on Melee Combat Early On

At the beginning of the game, you won’t have a lot of magic. As such, you must focus on melee combat and save your magic for when you need to heal. Slashing with your nail is an excellent way to keep enemies from reaching you. However, in some cases, you’ll have to get creative when an enemy blocks. In these cases, you might try attacking from the air or getting around the enemy. 

Your magic will get stronger, and later in the game, you’ll learn many spells you can use as. However, whenever your soul (which is required to use magic) starts running low, you’ll want to fall back on melee attacks.

Find and Upgrade Maps as Early as Possible

In Hollow Knight, maps are precious tools. Because it is so easy to get lost, a map can help guide you. Whenever you enter a new area, make sure to find the map vendor as soon as possible and buy the map for the area.


Maps are usually relatively cheap, with the first one being only 30 geo. Geo is the currency within this world. To make the maps even more valuable, you can buy pins to show you where other valuable locations are. The most significant upgrades for your map are:

  • The compass (220 geo) as well as the quill (120 geo).
  • Bench pin (100 geo).
  • The vendor pin (100 geo).

Customize the Hollow Knight to Fit Your Gaming Style

In the beginning, the charms you get seem very basic. However, as the game progresses and you start earning more charms and notches, you can start to customize the Hollow Knight to your preferred gaming style. You only have a limited amount of notches, so make sure that you choose your charms carefully. Many charms work well together, and some build on each other, so it’s a good idea to try them all and see how they work.

Be Prepared to Backtrack

The game is primarily about exploration, especially in the beginning. This means that you will spend a fair amount of time moving back and forth between locations. The more bugs you collect on your travels, the more vendors will appear in town. Make sure to visit them frequently to buy any new upgrades. Eventually, you will have the option to unlock the stag stations, which will enable you to fast travel between locations.


Use Benches Whenever You Find Them

Finding a bench should be your first priority whenever you enter a new location. The benches act as a checkpoint, and you can rest on them to regain health. With this checkpoint activated, if you were to get killed at any point, you will respawn at the last bench you rested on. 


Sitting on a bench also lets you equip any charms you’ve earned or purchased. Also, if you have already purchased the quill, you can use it while sitting on a bench to fill in your maps with details of your exploration.

The areas usually contain a few benches, so it is worthwhile to explore around a bench until you find the next one and repeat the process to explore deeper into any new area. 

Return to Where You Were Killed

There will be times in the game where you will die. This is inevitable as Hollow Knight is not an easy game. However, if you die, you can just return to the place where you died and claim back any items of geo’s you had on you. However, to get them back, you will have to fight and beat your shadow first.


Tips and Tricks for Playing Hollow Knight

Now that we’ve explained how the game works, we’ll be sharing a few tips and tricks you can use while playing Hollow Knight.

Persevere Through the Early Stages

In the early stages of the game, it may feel like it drags on a bit. Unfortunately, the opening area, Forgotten Crossroads, is probably also one of the duller areas in the game. Since there is so much gameplay to learn, it can feel like it just drags on. However, once the game starts opening up, you’ll find it enthralling and entertaining.

Talk to Everyone

Don’t forget to talk to everyone. The backstory of Hallownest is actually quite interesting, and every character you talk to shares more about the world.

During Combat Stay in the Air

The Hollow Knight can attack in all four directions. Although a regular forward/backward attack is sufficient for most enemies, you’ll soon find that jumping over an enemy and attacking down is usually more effective.

It’s a good idea to start practicing attacking from above early on in the game. Simply jump over an obstacle or enemy and repeatedly attack downward in a pogoing effect to remain safe while dealing damage.

Buy Custom Map Pins

The Hollow Knight maps are very sprawling, with many locked areas and secrets. Map pins are extremely valuable and well worth the geo required to buy them. Buying custom map pins will let you mark locked areas for future reference. This is valuable because as you travel through all the different maps, it will become increasingly difficult to remember where certain locked areas are once you have the upgrade needed to unlock the area.

Play With Headphones or Volume Turned Up

Not only is the audio of this game fantastic, but audio cues play a big part in the game. For example, you can hear Hollow Knight grubs cry out for help, and you can hear enemies moving ahead. Even some of the bosses’ attack cues have an audio trigger. Playing Hollow Knight with the audio enriches the gameplay and provides the player with useful cues.

Rescue the Grubs

Right from the start, you will see grubs spread out all over the world. These Hollow Knight grubs are trapped in glass jars and calling out for help. By finding and saving them, you can earn rewards. The rewards vary from geo to charms and other useful items. It is definitely worthwhile to find as many of these grubs as you can. Some of them will be hidden in plain sight, whereas others will be hidden behind platforming challenges.

Don’t Underestimate Charms

The charms may seem a little useless in the beginning; however, as you progress through the game, you will start unlocking more charms. The charm system of Hollow Knight is much deeper than you first expect. There are charms that will give you potent advantages, whereas others might drastically change your gameplay. If we can recommend any charm, it would be Quick Focus. This charm lets you recharge health much faster, which is useful in those difficult boss battles.


Set off on a fun adventure

Hollow Knight is an exciting two-dimensional exploration game that is set in a beautifully created world. The game is a welcomed challenge that combines platforming challenges with boss fights. All of this combined with beautiful storytelling and music score. Don’t miss out on this gem.

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