Hollow Knight is a 2D platformer with lots of exploration. It provides you with few clues as to what to do next or how the game even works. Here’s a few basic tips, without spoilers, to get you started.
The Hollow Knight is armed with a nail that can be swung in all four directions. Get used to jumping and attacking downwards as many enemies are susceptible to attacks from above. You can also use the downward attack while jumping to parry across spikes.
Exploration is key to the game so investigate every nook and cranny. There are also many secrets hidden throughout each section. Once you find the Map Maker you can buy a map from him. When you get back to Dirtmouth his shop will be open. Purchase the Compass which will show your location on the map, and the Quill so you can update the map with new areas that you’ve explored. You can only update the map while resting at a bench. To use the Compass you’ll need to equip it in one of your charm slots.
There are a limited number of charm slots and notches available. Each charm may take up one or more notches. If you equip charms with more notches than you have available this is called overcharming. You can use the charms but the cost is you’ll take double damage.
Similar to Dark Souls there is a checkpoint system in Hollow Knight. You’ll need to find a bench to rest and save your game. If you really get stuck you can exit to the menu and then load the game again to return to your last saved checkpoint.
There is a fast travel system in this game but you’ll need to find the station for each area to activate it. Ring the bell to call the creature which will take you to other explored areas or back to Dirtmouth.
When you die there are three things that happen. First, you’ll lose all of your Geo that you had on you. Second, your Spirit Vessel will break which means you can only collect 2/3 of the maximum number of spirits and third, a Shade will spawn at your death point. Once you kill the Shade your Geo will be returned and your Spirit Vessel will be repaired.
If your Shade is at a difficult part to reach or you don’t want to go to the trouble of finding it you can visit Jiji in the shop to the right of the well. You’ll need to unlock her shop when you find, or purchase, a Simple Key. When Jiji is accessible you can trade her a Rancid Egg and she’ll call your Shade back to you.