Hollow Knight vs. Shovel Knight

Hollow Knight vs. Shovel Knight

Battle of the indie knights

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Versus on

Hollow Knight and Shovel Knight are a couple of the greatest indie games ever made and I've been meaning to do this match-up for a very long time. The only question is: which of these indie knights will claim victory?

Photo of Hollow Knight on Switch and a boxed Shovel Knight amiibo
How come Shovel Knight has an amiibo but Hollow Knight doesn't?

Hollow Knight

First up, we have the stylish Metroidvania Hollow Knight. Although it may be a cartoonish game, it's actually set in a rather disturbing world and the more of its lore you uncover, the more you'll realise just how sinister many of its inhabitants are. It's this aspect that really stays with you for long after you put the controller down and very few indie games are even close to being as haunting. As for gameplay, it's rather standard for a Metroidvania as you run and jump around while exploring the world and gaining new abilities which allow you to access new areas. Being able to launch magic attacks and double-jump make fighting enemies and exploration much more fulfilling. Meanwhile, the combat is simple and tight while the boss fights are impressively challenging. It really is a fantastic game.

On the downside, I didn't like its pacing as moments often felt drawn-out as I attempted to reach my next destination. Meanwhile, other moments can be quite frustrating as you may accidentally perish due to visual ambiguity. Speaking of which, I found the graphics to be gorgeous yet they don't change much throughout so there's no substantial mood shifts between areas. In the end, Hollow Knight is an excellent game and my complaints are small potatoes compared to the satisfaction that you'll get from the overall experience.

Hollow Knight Review
Hollow Knight screenshot
Hollow Knight takes on many dangerous foes such as sleepy mushroom fellows

Shovel Knight

Finally, here's the world-famous Shovel Knight! In case you're unaware, it's a 2D action game that feels like a long-lost NES game and let me tell you; if this came out for NES back in the day then it would have been everyone's must-have game for the system. Its stage-based campaign is challenging, diverse, and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. Whacking enemies with your shovel or bouncing on their heads while using your shovel as a pogo stick is so much fun. Factor in loads of rewarding secrets and an assortment of satisfying boss fights and you're left with one of the greatest 2D action games ever created. It's hard to believe that the developers worked within the constraints of 8-bit gaming in order to create such a modern masterpiece. Oh, and the soundtrack is phenomenal!

Over the years, Shovel Knight has amassed a few add-ons that each feature a new playable character in the form of Plague of Shadows, Specter of Torment, and King of Cards which only just released a few days ago as of writing this. Whoever bought the game early gets to access all of this content for free which is just awesome as each DLC character plays radically different to the others. Anyway, the only negative things I can say about Shovel Knight is that knockback can be rather irritating and some pits are confusing as you may assume that you can go down a few which may actually end your life if you try. Other than these quibbles, it's an amazing game.

Shovel Knight Review
Shovel Knight screenshot
Shovel Knight sure looks good in his Kratos armour!

It was awesome revisiting these indie masterpieces but it's time to pick a winner. You probably have a guess what I'll pick and it's...

Winner Shovel Knight

If you prefer Hollow Knight or Shovel Knight, you're right because both of these games are wonderful. Personally, I give the edge to Shovel Knight because its campaign is a lot more densely action-packed and that's something that I prefer in my 2D games. Both games have plenty of secrets to find which is something that I love a lot, too. Anyway, if you're a fan of 2D retro-inspired games then do yourself a favour and play both of these excellent indies. You definitely won't regret it!

That's just my opinion. Agree? Disagree? Vote now!

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Gameplay video playlist for Hollow Knight vs. Shovel Knight 12:17
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