Hollow Knight and the Illusion of Permanence

Hello everyone and welcome back to another round of Games with Coffee

While my focus should have been on writing a post on fatherhood and God of War, recent events had me looking at the ideas behind change and permanence. And it all stems from playing Hollow Knight.

I’m sure you’ve been at events or been a part of a group in which you wished the good times would never end? That feeling of joy, of euphoria at being a part of something spectacular, it’s something that, I bet, you would want to bottle up and keep with you forevermore. In reality, that’s not the case. Feelings are fleeting, like chasing wisps of smoke on your fingers. By trying your best to hold on to them, you may be at risk of missing out on some pretty awesome stuff. And that’s what we’ll be talking about today.

Developed by Team Cherry, Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania with a surprising amount of intricacies within its lore. To summarize, the game tasks The Knight to explore Hallownest and uncover the mystery of the kingdom’s demise after being summoned there. Hallownest was said to be the last bastion of civilization in a desolate world built on instinct. It has, in recent times, been overrun by a strange infection that caused the bugs in Hallownest to become violent and aggressive. This infection was later revealed to be caused by a god called The Radiance. The Radiance was sealed up inside a Vessel called The Hollow Knight by the Pale King – a god of his own right – who came to Hallownest in ages past.

The Pale King was previously a Wyrm who travelled the world until he reached Kingdom’s Edge. Declaring this to be the birthplace of his new kingdom, the Wyrm shed its enormous form and became the Pale King. His goal was to elevate the consciousness of the bugs living in the area so that they would serve and worship him. He was not the only god – or Higher Beings as they are referred to – in Hallownest. There were others, like the slug Unn, the White Lady, The Radiance and The Void. The last one was worshiped particularly by the civilization that preceded Hallownest and the Pale King. Once he arrived though, The Pale King managed to convert the residents to his side and began construction of his kingdom. The bugs lost their instincts and took up art, music and combat through Nail and Shell. The other higher beings, apart from the White Lady, fell into obscurity. If not for the infection, Hallownest, in theory, would have lasted eternally.

However, such things are not the case. As the saying goes, “Nothing gold can stay.” Through his desire to keep Hallownest – and the devotion of its residents – everlasting, such things can never be. As macabre and nihilistic as it sounds, everything does end at some point – eras, kingdoms and even life itself. If not for The Radiance’s infection, Hallownest and the Pale King’s rule would have ended through some other means. This is evident from the civilization that existed before.

Hollow Knight is a good reminder that change is a constant and that trying to hold on to permanence is an illusion. We as older gamers would love to return to the golden ages of gaming – between 1985 and the mid-2000s. It was a time when arcades and consoles had meaning. A time when the games came complete with no DLC or patches required at startup. A time when microtransactions weren’t a thing. And a time when an internet connection wasn’t necessary to play a single-player campaign. The thing is, if we tried to keep things as is to ensure that our nostalgia is everlasting, then we wouldn’t get the awesome and inspiring titles we would have today. Everything we love to play now was built on the backs of the games that came before it, in the same way, that the Vessels were created through a union of the old civilization and the new. Hollow Knight itself was inspired by previous Metroidvanias and by Mega Man X/Mega Man Zero. Styling The Knight’s movement and the enemy pattern memorization using those latter games are the reason why I’ve enjoyed Hollow Knight so much.

The message I’m trying to portray here is that it’s OK to feel sad that things won’t stay the same forever. But don’t spend your life and your energy trying to force them to stay everlasting. There’s value in fighting against some things (looking at you, microtransactions and always-online requirements), but it’s not worth the energy to fight everything to maintain some semblance of permanence. By embracing the fact that things do change and accepting it with an open mind and heart, you’ll be better prepared for what lies ahead in your journey. And hey, that change that you fear, might just be the starting point for a whole bunch of amazing things happening to you. New experiences won’t happen if you stay still in the bubble of your eternal happiness. You’ll never know what those good things are for sure if you act like the Pale King and fight to keep your Hallownest everlasting.

We’ve reached the end of our discussion on permanence and its relation to Hollow Knight. To sum this all up, learn from the king’s example. Resist the comfortable stagnation and embrace the chaos of change. Don’t spend all your energy trying to keep things the same forever. Because nothing lasts forever, no matter how hard we try. Best to cherish what we had before, enjoy what we have right now and look forward to what will come ahead.

I hope you took something away from this post. If so, please let me know in the comments. Until next time, friends, this is Coffee reminding you to believe in yourself, live with no regrets and chase after the impossible. See you next time!


Games With Coffee

Enriching the Stewards of Gaming, One Cup At A Time

One thought on “Hollow Knight and the Illusion of Permanence

  1. Pingback: Whatcha Up To, Coffee?! – #16 | Games With Coffee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s