<span class="bold">Hollow Knight</span>
What did I think of Hollow Knight
? It's extraordinary, wonderful, magnificent, excellent, glorious, amazing, superb, outstanding, exceptional, first-class, superlative... (checks thesaurus)... masterful, terrific, transcendent, splendid... I still could go on for a while but I guess you've got the idea by now: it's my 2017 GOTY so far, by a wide margin.
It's received a lot of praise across the board, but also a fair share of criticism, so chances are you know pretty well what it's about. But for the three or four unaware among you, suffice to say it's a 2D metroidvania with a lot of influence from the Souls
games. It's got a huge open world to be explored, with lots of bosses and mini-bosses to beat, abilities to unlock and upgrades to find/buy. Instead of bonfires here you can rest and save your game at benches, and as you progressively discover new areas you'll also open shortcuts to them in order to make your travels shorter and easier.
However this doesn't seem to be enough for many people, as one of the main complaints you can read out there is about the supposed scarcity of checkpoints and quick-travel systems. I don't agree with that at all: first, because checkpoints aren't really *that* far apart and it doesn't take you *that* much time to get back to where you died (and be able to recover your sou... I mean your Geo), and secondly because all that backtracking is only helping you memorize both the map layout and enemy locations so you can learn to breeze past many areas without taking damage (something that you'll no doubt be thankful for if you decide to accept a certain quest by a grieving widow).
The second major criticism this game has recieved is the lack of auto-mapping by default, and the fact that when you enter a new area you first need to find the mapmaker and buy that area's map from him. I for one found the extra added tension of not exactly knowing where you are, or the possibility of getting killed and not being able to return to the same place, well worth the inconvenience. Plus, most of the time there are both visual and audio clues about the whereabouts of the aforementioned mapmaker, so it's rather easy to find him if you know what to look for.
There are many other criticisms I could discuss, but instead I'd want to focus now on what everybody agrees: the hand-drawn artstyle and animations are ab-so-lute-ly gorgeous. There's also a great variety of different environments, each with its own enemy types, and a lot of secret areas to discover. Plus, I loved the fact that all the characters are different species of insects and other bugs: it makes it all feel more alien but at the same time more charming.
There's a lot of lore about the ancient Hallownest kingdom to be found out there, and in fact most of it you'll need to figure it out yourself from little pieces of information here and there. There were many things I didn't realize until I read a wiki after beating the game, so I don't blame you if you don't know exactly what's going on.
I bougth it on sale, but in retrospect I wouldn't have minded paying full price: I spent more than 50 hours with it and I still didn't 100% it. My blackest spot was not being able to beat the Trial of Fools after lots of tries, but in the end I decided to let it go as I would never be able to achieve a 100% rating anyway: for some reason I either lost the Elegant Key from my inventory, or I was never able to buy it (can't remember), so I never unlocked the Shade Soul spell. Luckily, the newly released free Hidden Dreams
expansion will give me the excuse I needed to play it all over again in order to see the new content and to try to get that 100% once and for all. My list of finished games in 2017