Team Cherry’s game is an outstanding indie title. It’s easy to understand why you’re looking for other games like Hollow Knight.
See, this is a standalone experience. There’s no prequel, no sequel, and no franchise. Even though the game can offer about 40 hours of gameplay, it ended forever.
The haunting Knight experience started with a crowdfunding campaign, so we could say part of its magic is its personal, passionate development. However, games like Hollow Knight could be indie entries or not.
Selecting Games Like Hollow Knight
Finding games like Hollow Knight is a usual business for us. It means understanding the elements of the entry to identify similar alternatives.
So, the games like Hollow Knight we found to feature a mix of similar elements:
- Genre: Hollow Knight is a 2D action-adventure/platformer game with Metroidvania elements. You play as a Knight, a nameless warrior across a vast, interconnected map. Here, you fight enemies (bugs) and bosses.
- Skills: As you progress the game, you unlock powers and abilities. These have the purpose of mobility, combat, and opening new areas.
- Protagonist: The warrior has no name and no voice. He’s a silent protagonist, a black canvas that explores a story, but not itself.
- Combat: Combat is 2D. It revolves around using a melee weapon to strike enemies at a short distance. The character can dash, slash, and dodge. Over time, the Knight learns spells for long-range attacks.
- NPCs: Part of the game’s charm is the NPCs. As players explore the map, they find NPCs with lore information, plot details, items to trade, and services to buy.
- Character progression: The Knight improves in limited ways. Aside from unlocking skills, the player finds “Mask shards,” which upgrades his HP. Also, players can upgrade their main weapons, acquire items for new combat movements, and equip Charms for minor boosts.
- Rebirth mechanic: There’s also a souls-like rebirth mechanic. The player gains “Souls” by striking enemies. Souls can heal the character or fuel spells. However, he loses several Souls and his currency when the character dies. Players need to retrieve their Souls as well as their currency.
- Save spots: Another element it takes from the Dark Souls series is the save spots. There’s no other way to save the game.
- Optional bosses: The game also features optional boss battles. Players can access these with a special item.
- Hardcore mode: Players unlock the Steel Soul game mode after beating the game for the first time. It’s a challenging playthrough with permanent death.
- Map details: The game won’t deliver the full map, alongside its icons easily. Players need to find particular NPCs and explore areas before marking them on the map. In fact, the player has a plethora of mapping tools to mark areas and points of interest.
- Tone: The general tone of the game (music and visuals) is dark, eerie, and sad.
- Score: Hollow Knight has an original score with intimate and haunting tunes. The soundtrack echoes epicness, majesty, sadness, and ruin; these are the game’s themes.
- Art: Lastly, the art has a high standard. The game features frame-by-frame animation for the protagonist, every enemy, and NPC. Moreover, the developers hand drew every landscape to deliver its surreal and gothic sights.
Overall, games like Hollow Knight feel like a fresh mix of old and new. The indie title is a classic side-scrolling adventure and a modern take of Metroidvania and souls-like elements. The result feels bizarre and creepy, smooth, epic, and gorgeous due to its art.
Lastly, the playtime is challenging for platforming but ultimately quite fun.
Games Like Hollow Knight
Ori and the Will of The Wisps
- Developer: Moon Studios
- Publisher: Xbox Game Studios, Iam8bit
- Release date: March 2020
- Platform: Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Nintendo Switch
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the second entry of the Ori franchise. It greatly improves the original game, Ori and the Blind Forest, but it keeps the essence of the title. Both are 2D platform-adventure games with Metroidvania elements. Also, both have a gorgeous art style, charming NPCs, and outstanding scores.
Ori comes from an indie developer as well. Moon Studios has its headquarters in Vienna, and they had worldwide contributors to develop the series. Because of the greater scope, they greatly improved the visuals on the sequel. In particular, they added 3D character models on 2D hand-drawn backgrounds.
You play as Ori, a spirit on a journey to save the forest and his friends. The land is suffering, and he can mend the wounds by discovering his true destiny. Like Hollow Knight, it means traveling a vast interconnected map with your dashes, slashes, and skills. You unlock skills, spells, and items to help NPCs unlock areas and defeat bosses.
There’re other elements on Ori that make it different from Hollow Knight. For example, it has no soul-like features. Then, it has a character progression system that works with “shards,” akin to a Final Fantasy game. Moreover, it has a main hub, a forest town you can develop to help your friends unlock new quests. Overall, Ori and the Will of Wisps feels easier and lighter, but it’s up to the highest standards of the genre.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
- Developer: ArtPlay
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Release date: June 2019
- Platform: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
“Metroidvania” is not only because of Metroid games. The other half of this namesake is the Castlevania series. That’s because of how Capcom’s saga mixed exploration, area unlocking, and melee action with dark settings.
ArtPlay made Ritual of the Night as a spiritual successor of the Castlevania saga. The creator is Koji Igarashi, a former Castlevania producer for Konami and one of the leading developers of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
Ritual of the Night takes its cues from Symphony of the Night, one of the most influential games in history. However, it adds modern tweaks to keep the game fresh. The story happens in 18th Century England and focuses on Miriam, an orphan with supernatural abilities.
Similar to Hollow Knight, Miriam can upgrade his abilities to explore an interconnected 2D world. The overall experience focuses on exploration. It’s a side-scrolling action RPG game full of content and enemies. The story is about saving humanity, and the ultimate playtime is challenging, dark, and gory.
Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights
- Developer: Adglobe, Live Wire
- Publisher: Binary Haze Interactive
- Release date: January 2021
- Platform: Windows, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Xbox Series, PS4
Ender Lilies is a 2D platform adventure title that checks most list elements. Most importantly, the setting is a dark fantasy, and the game design features Metroidvania elements. Moreover, the game has choices, consequences, and three alternate endings.
You play as Lily, a surviving priestess on a ruined land. Rain turned the living into undead creatures. Lily awakens in a church with no memory of recent events. Yet, she explores the source of the rain and discovers the power to purify the undead along the journey.
The setting opens a 2D side-scrolling gameplay. You play in a plethora of combat, puzzle, and item collecting situations. The players explore an interconnected map and unlock new areas with new skills as they progress. In particular, combat abilities allow players to attack, dash, evade, and use ranged and magical skills.
Then, combat is about purifying the undead and then using their spirits as your warriors and protectors. That means combat is about controlling fallen spirits against the undead creatures. Similarly, players can boost Lily’s stats by finding relics and other items. Ultimately, a woman’s journey alongside cursed knights is very challenging because of the puzzles, map design, and boss fights.
- Developer: The Game Kitchen
- Publisher: Team17, Limited Run Games
- Release date: September 2019
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Blasphemous is a souls-like 2D Metroidvania on evil steroids. Everything about the game is dreadful, gory, and challenging. In essence, this is a brutal action-platformer with hack’ n slash combat in a nightmare world. Despite the setting, though, Blasphemous is particularly fun because of its smooth combat and story.
You play as the Penitent One. The setting is the world of Cystodia, an environment that’s reminiscent of Diablo games, like Tristam. Here, you can parry, dash to evade, attack, and use ranged skills for combat. It’s a very challenging system that it’s ready to punish your mistakes and set you back on death.
Like Hollow Knight, you lose something on death. In this case, the Penitent One loses the items he’s wearing; therefore, he loses the little stat boosts he can find. He must go back to his body without dying to get it back. There are other minor ways of progressing the character, and the game will slowly open these possibilities over time.
Aside from combat, you explore an interconnected 2D world. However, you need to find items, magical spells, and mobility skills to access certain areas. Most areas feature new enemies, items, boss fights, puzzles, and platforming challenges. Overall, it’s a challenging action platformer with a very obscure tone about penance and faith.
- Developer: Motion Twin, Evil Empire
- Publisher: Motion Twin, Playdigious
- Release date: August 2018
- Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Steam OS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4
Dead Cells, like Hollow Knight, mixes elements from various genres into the 2D action platformer. The result is challenging, fun, and special. Also, this game is just as difficult, or more, as its competitor.
In essence, it’s a side-scroller hack n’ slash game with Metroidvania elements and souls-like combat. Moreover, the setting -a castle- changes over time. Lastly, the game has no checkpoints, which is how the developers added roguelike elements. You kill mobs, die to mobs, learn how to do it better, and do it over.
The studio calls this mix “Roguevania.” It means the progressive exploration of an interconnected, ever-changing world. At the same time, it implies permadeath mechanics with tough combat, an array of weapons, spells, dodges, and dashes. All of this comes through with a nonlinear progression that allows you to unlock permanent abilities and areas at your own will.
Lastly, the game contains many secrets, hidden passages, and cute landscapes. Sadly, the game doesn’t have a significant storyline. It’s all about combat and exploration.
Shovel Knight series – Treasure Trove
- Developer: Yacht Club Games
- Publisher: Yacht Club Games
- Release date: June 2014
- Platform: Windows, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Switch, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Shovel Knight is Hollow Knight’s main competitor. Fans consider both titles as pillars of the platformer side-scrolling genre. So, if you’re a fan of the darker platformer, you’ll probably like any Shovel Knight entry as well.
Shovel Knight, the series, started in 2014. We’re sharing Treasure Trove, which bundles four sequels. These are Shovel of Hope, Plague of Shadows, Specter of Torment, and King of Cards. Also, it packs Shovel Knight Showdown, a 4 player local PvP game mode. Either game follows similar mechanics.
These are 8-bit retro action platforming titles with memorable characters and fine-tuned mechanics. You run, jump, and melee combat as the Shovel Knight. You use the Shovel Blade to combat enemies on a plethora of main quests against villainous villains.
These games don’t have Metroidvania elements; these are just platformers. However, they take Mega Man and Castlevania as their main influences. Thus, these titles have puzzles, challenging combat, and thrilling boss battles. Moreover, the Knight can use the shovel to jump on top of the enemies, just like the Hollow Knight does with his Nail sword.
- Developer: MercurySteam, Nintendo EPD
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release date: October 2021
- Platform: Nintendo Switch
Metroid Dread is the latest entry of the Metroid series. Both fans and critics consider it represents a return to form. However, it’s perhaps the most difficult entry in the saga, for better or worse. This is an action-adventure/platformer game, and I shouldn’t have to add it has “Metroidvania” elements. Also, it has 2D backgrounds with 3D character models and animations. The result mixes the classic with the new in a smooth manner.
You play as Samus Aran, the recurrent bounty hunter. Dread’s plot starts when she goes to planet ZDR searching for a mysterious transmission. Lore-wise, the story happens after 2002’s Metroid Fusion. Gameplay-wise, it retains the side-scrolling gameplay while adding stealth elements to the formula.
The stealth elements are quite important as well. Because you start underpowered, you need to use a camouflage item -the Phantom Cloak- to sneak by enemies. If certain enemies catch you, you have a slight chance to perform a counter and escape; otherwise, Samus dies. Then, you can only defeat this particular enemy with a certain item.
This gameplay loop repeats itself throughout the journey for a challenging experience. But, other than the stealth and the combat, Dread has several puzzles, platforming challenges, fast-paced boss battles, and punishing combat.
- Developer: Housemarque
- Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Release date: April 2021
- Platform: PlayStation 5
Only PlayStation 5 users can enjoy Sony’s latest exclusive IP. The title mixes third-person shooting, roguelike design, RPG elements, psychological horror, and light Metroidvania elements with a AAA budget.
The title follows Selene, an astronaut exploring the alien planet Atropos. She’s looking for the “White Shadow,” a mysterious signal. However, she falls into a time loop that opens roguelike and counter mechanics. Essentially, Selene has to dungeon-crawl her way out of the loop, but there are branching paths and multiple endings.
Its sci-fi gameplay uses many high-tech weapons and suits to escape the loop. After each death, Selene revives to try again. Then, she must find the pattern on the maps, defeat the enemies, and defeat the bosses on each world to move on.
Escaping the loops also depends on unlocking abilities and weapons. These abilities and weapons can open new areas to move forward, and new areas present new and tougher enemies. Also, often need particular weapons to defeat enemies that block the paths. Lastly, the settings as rich in detail, the enemies feature advanced AI, and the combat is incredibly smooth.
- Developer: Nicails Inc, Studio Pixel
- Publisher: Nicails Inc
- Release date: Nov 2011
- Platform: Windows, Linux, Steam OS, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii
Cave Story+ is another indie Metroidvania title that focuses on high-speed combat and exploration. The game takes players on large subterranean civilizations to blast enemies and bosses.
The game focuses on exploration and rewards. It’s a gameplay loop that’s quick to give you new weapons, power-ups, and movements. Then, the controls are smooth and fluid. As a result, combat is intense, frenetic, and fun. This happens on a classic 16-bit action-adventure platformer title with Metroidvania elements.
The story focuses on a young hero who wakes in a hidden wonderland. Soon, he finds out he’s the only one who can race the magical Mimiga race from extinction. He must put the clues in place, though, as he receives plot details and lore information from multiple NPCs in the world.
Cave Story debuted as freeware. Over time, though, it has become a successful indie, and so it’s no longer free. Still, you can currently find it on many stores, including GoG, Epic Games, and Steam. It’s worth the price, though: Cave Story+ is incredibly refined, a masterful blend of platforming, exploration, and shooting.
Hyper Light Drifter
- Developer: Heart Machine
- Publisher: Heart Machine
- Release date: March 2016
- Platform: PlayStation 4, iOS, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Xbox One, Linux, Nintendo Switch, Macintosh operating systems
Hyper Light Drifter features a top-down camera perspective and a sci-fi setting/aesthetic. Those elements may tell a different game than Hollow Knight, but both share various characteristics. This isn’t a Metroidvania game, but it’s still a memorable experience.
In particular, you explore the ruins of the City of Tears. As you wonder about the remains of a once-great civilization, you’ll uncover dark settings, haunting music, and an overall sad tone. The overall theme and story of the game are very like the 2D action platformer.
You play as a lone wanderer, and your weapons are a blaster and a sword. Clues of a violent and dark past are scattered in the land. Treasures are hidden beneath bloodstains. And you, as the player, uncover the secrets on a 16bit action-adventure RPG playtime.
As the Drifter, you travel the lands of Buried Time in search of knowledge. The goal is to find a way to cure a disease slowly killing the character. Along the journey, you meet hand-animated NPCs with lovely dialogues, challenging enemies, and vicious bosses. Moreover, you’ll upgrade weapons, learn skills, find gear, and travel a map with branching paths.
Megaman Zero: Legacy Collection
- Developer: Capcom
- Publisher: Capcom
- Release date: February 2020
- Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Windows, Nintendo Switch
Hollow Knight wouldn’t be anything without its ancestors. Megaman is one of the grandparents of the action-platformer genre. The newer title is frantic and features heavy melee combat and challenging boss fights. The older Megaman entries are similar, as they deliver punishing but rewarding 2D combat, but with a directional shooting system.
The Zero Legacy collection bundles six classic Megaman games. These include Mega Man Zero 1, 2, 3, and 4; and Mega Man ZX and ZX Advent. Lastly, the collection consists of Z-Chaser, an exclusive game mode for the set.
Most Mega Man titles would feel eerily close to Hollow Knight. In particular, the fast-paced combat, frequent boss battles, and combat are paramount on both franchises. The Zero series is exceptionally tough, so Hollow Knight players will feel right at home.
Even without your childhood bias, you’d see how the Mega Man games have stood the test of time. It’s some of the best experiences Capcom has to offer, and we expect them to pump out new titles soon.
Nobody Saves the World
- Developer: DrinkBox Studios
- Publisher: DrinkBox Studios
- Release date: January 2022
- Platform: Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series
Our last choice is the newest game on the list. It’s available for Xbox Game Pass subscribers (PC and console). It doesn’t have much in common with Hollow Knight, but it’s an outstanding action RPG from an indie studio. Also, it shares a silent character. But, instead of Metroidvania, it has Diablo as part of its core.
You play as Nobody, a blend, blobby character with the name. You have amnesia, and justice accuses you of a crime you don’t remember. Soon, you find yourself in a dungeon, with the ability to turn yourself into a rat. This opens up the main system in the game: Nobody can shapeshift into different beings at any time. However, you unlock these shapes, as well as skills for each shape, as you progress.
See, playing dungeon-crawler ARPGs is fun as wizards, rogues, and warriors. However, Nobody takes other routes: he can turn into a rat, a horse, a ghost, a zombie, a bodybuilder, a monk, and more. Each form has advantages, disadvantages, passives, and skills. Moreover, you can mix and match skills from different forms to address the different dungeons in the game.
Then, you explore a vast open-world with randomly generated dungeons. You have to start all over if you die in a dungeon because this is the light rogue-lite / permadeath mechanic. You need to manage your 15 distinct forms to survive and fight over 30 enemy types. Lastly, the goal is to help the world deal with the Calamity on a set of quests and side quests.