Xbox Game Pass contains no shortage of hits. While huge games like Gears Tactics are the main attraction, the service is a trojan horse for excellent indie titles. In fact, some of last decade’s best small games are available to play on PC and Xbox right now.
Chief among those is Hollow Knight, a must-play Metroidvania that’s currently available on Game Pass. Subscribers can play the game on PC, Xbox One, or Xbox Series X|S.
Here’s a primer for the uninitiated. First released for PC in 2017, Hollow Knight is an atmospheric indie spin on Metroid that features a one-of-a-kind art style. Players traverse a gigantic world full of bugs (the good kind) and secrets to uncover. It’s a game that’s heavy on exploration with tons of mobility options a la games like Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Players can spend countless hours just diving into the deepest depths of the game’s daunting map.
Hollow Knight particularly stands out from a crowded genre because of its tough as nails combat. The game may look harmless with its cartoony visuals, but it’s deceptively challenging. It even borrows some ideas from the Dark Souls series, such as players dropping all currency when they die forcing them to retrace their steps to retrieve it all.
While Hollow Knight is already four years old this month, its legend has only grown with time. The game’s initial release was modest, gaining it a sort of “hidden gem” status among hardcore indie fans. The rest of the gaming world didn’t start to pick up on it until June 2018 when the game surprise-released on the Nintendo Switch following Nintendo’s E3 Direct. That major spotlight was enough to give the game the audience it couldn’t quite find its first time around.
Incredibly, that momentum hasn’t slowed down much since then. The game continues to convert fans thanks to how readily available it has become in recent years. It’s been a staple of Game Pass since last summer, and Sony recently included it as a freebie for PS Plus subscribers. No matter what system a player owns, there’s a good chance they can get Hollow Knight on it.
The little game’s sustained growth is a testament to the changing landscape of the modern gaming ecosystem. With streaming services and platforms constantly looking to sweeten their value, more and more indies are getting increased visibility as they’re added to services like Game Pass. That’s a great change for developers like Team Cherry who went from virtually unknown to industry sweethearts with just one game.
The culmination of that journey is going to come with its sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong. While the game still doesn’t have a release date, it’s quickly become one of the most hotly anticipated games out there. Considering its predecessors' long-tailed march to prominence, the fact that Silksong is on the same lists as Eldin Ring and God of War makes Hollow Knight one of indie gaming’s most compelling success stories.
Hollow Knight is available now on Game Pass for Xbox consoles and PC.