Last year's other E3 shadowdrop is coming back for a second round.
Hollow Knight: Silksong was originally promised on Kickstarter as a DLC expansion to Hollow Knight, but earlier this year it was announced that the campaign has grown so much that it would be releasing as a full-fledged sequel. We got the chance to play Silksong at Nintendo’s E3 booth, and though the demo was a bit underwhelming it still managed to set a good first impression for Team Cherry’s new adventure.
The demo started at what appears to be the very beginning of the game with Hornet, an ally from the original game who stars as the player character in Silksong, waking up after falling into a deep cavern. Hollow Knight’s weakest point was its opening hour, and unfortunately Silksong doesn’t do a lot to improve on that problem since the demo featured very few of the new powers and abilities that will set Hornet apart from the first game’s Knight.
However, even from the very beginning it’s clear that Hornet is much more agile than the Knight was, making it feel a lot more fun to move through the world in the opening areas. Her biggest change is the ability to grab onto a ledge and jump off it to gain more height. It reduces the challenge of precision platforming in exchange for greatly increasing the speed at which you can move up vertical paths - something that always felt a bit too sluggish in Hollow Knight.
Hornet also has two big changes to her combat ability that immediately make a difference in the miniboss fight that ended the demo. The two most important abilities that the Knight could use in combat were his downward aerial slash that let him bounce off enemies and his Focus charge that could heal him after a few seconds of immobility. Hornet’s downward slash has been turned into a forward dive that cause her to fully commit to attacking enemies below her. Meanwhile her Focus (which has been renamed to Bind) heals her almost instantly, allowing her to heal more freely in the thick of battle. These are small changes, but by moving the deliberate commitment of the Knight’s Focus to Hornet’s offensive moves and freeing her up to correct her mistakes more quickly, Team Cherry has changed the pacing of combat in a big way. Hornet needs to be played more aggressively than the Knight in order to get the most out of a boss battle, tying in well to her being an overall more mobile character.
Unfortunately that’s all we were able to see in Silksong’s demo at Nintendo’s booth. The demo’s main menu had the option to start at a later point in the game, but the representative running the demo chose the option for us guaranteeing that everyone played through the same opening sections of the game. The short time I had with Silksong made it clear that Team Cherry was putting just as much of their skill and passion into the project as their debut title, but unfortunately I wasn’t given the opportunity to really see the differences between Hornet and her predecessor shine.