Swinging into Silksong

Silksong, the anticipated sequel to Hollow Knight, is a standalone game ready to be played.

Photograph by S Vasileva

Silksong, the anticipated sequel to Hollow Knight, is a standalone game ready to be played.

They see your beauty, so frail and fine, 

They see your peace, woven of faith and toil,

They forget your heart, bound in slumber and servitude,

When you wake they shall see your truth,

A beast’s nature bare to all.”

  • From ‘Pharloom’s Folly’ by the Conductor Romino


After escaping her imprisonment in a traveling caravan through desolate lands, Hornet plummets into a ravine, a symbolic dive into the unknown. An entire world comes alive: Humid moss groves, jeweled coral forests, an embroidered gothic style palace filled with traps, a foggy cemetery, a city of bells. To navigate this vast world, the elegant and strong willed Hornet has to navigate the vast corners of Pharloom with deadly tools to power through enemies along the way. In the difficult journey to the peak, both Hornet and the player will discover new legends, secrets, and ultimately uncover Hornet’s ancient and mysterious past. 

Announced in 2019, Hollow Knight: Silksong has been the anticipated sequel of Hollow Knight. Originally intended to be a DLC (additional content) for Hollow Knight, Silksong became an entirely separate game in the perspective of Hornet, daughter of Hallownest’s fallen monarch and the Knight’s sibling. The announcement brought a storm among fans, with many rushing to make speculations, joining the Hollow Knight Discord server to keep up with the developers’ updates, and more recently reading Edge’s article covering the interview with Team Cherry’s developers. 

Bell City, the heart of Pharloom (Photograph by S Vasileva)

The sequel takes place in Pharloom, a kingdom ruled and cursed by silk and song. Similar to the previous game, the player’s journey will uncover the cause of this curse and unravel the story of the cursed land. Contrasting to the first game’s desolate and ruined kingdom, Pharloom is a lively kingdom that serves as a pilgrimage spot, where travelers pay their respects with silk and melodic tributes. The language of the kingdom is even made to look like musical notation. As Jen Simpkins, an Edge journalist describes it: Silksong’s world will be a “ballroom of possibility” that will manifest the developers’ artistic worldbuilding. 

Pharloom was born from a conglomerate of ideas, with one concept naturally branching to another. “The way we approach these games,” Gibson says, “is that they are just a web of ideas and notions, that all pass through this filter of bugs, and caves, and ruined civilizations and whatnot.” This web of ideas of a grand and sophisticated world unexpectedly turned to the protagonist of the game: Hornet.

The developers wanted to create a brand new kingdom that would be new player friendly and welcome back Hollow Knight players “We’re trying to be really really mindful that we want this to be a game that new people can come to, and experience as their first hollow knight game, that sits alongside the original game [and difficulty]”, Gibson says. In addition to having new lore and new characters, Silksong makes Hornet deviate from Hollow Knight by introducing her own set of abilities called tools, and wearable Crests to customize her loadout. She even has a new way of healing called Bind, which is fueled by silk obtained from killing enemies. 

“Crests are customizable, themed loadouts, with each slot able to hold one particular category of tool.” As seen above, the Reaper crest allows equipment of 6 tools.
(Photograph by SV)

 To flesh out this world, artist and animator Ari Gibson and game designer William Pellen based their world design on Hornet’s character: elegant, acrobatic, and agile. Pharloom was designed to accommodate Hornet’s height and acrobatic abilities. “Hornet being taller changes everything”, Pellen explains.

Silksong centering around Hornet changes the entire atmosphere. According to developer Ari Gibson, “Hornet can travel so much faster, she can jump higher, she can mantle or clamber onto ledges, she’s generally more acrobatic. So the caves around her have to expand to accommodate her height.”  With Hornet’s more acrobatic abilities, the game will bring more challenging obstacles and enemies. Where you could trick enemies into falling into spike pits in Hollow Knight, Silksong enemies will be much more difficult to defeat due to their more complex mechanics. One enemy in the starting area disguises as a skull before pouncing on the player. Another kind of enemy in the same area charges at you at blazing speed to catch you off guard. 

Hornet was also designed to be a stark contrast to the silent, blank, and faceless knight. Hornet will be more expressive and headstrong in personality, expressing clear intentions and goals for the player and Pharloom’s inhabitants to pick up on. Being able to understand Hornet’s intentions will allow her to help Pharloom’s inhabitants through the quest system.  The gameplay was formulated to express Hornet’s energetic and flexible persona that is constantly fighting against Pharloom’s constricting nature. Hornet’s abilities, such as her ability to manipulate silk, suggests a deeper connection to the silk and song cursed Pharloom despite being an outsider. 

What do Hollow Knight players anticipate in the sequel? Out of the 18 people that responded to a gaming survey sent out, 5 of them were Hollow Knight players. Freshman Gabriel Daiberil anticipates a more lively and energetic feel of the game combined with the smooth combat we already saw. “The broken towns and cities in HK are beautiful but the sense of loneliness in the game is strange to me. I prefer the more lively looking towns that are in the Silksong trailer as well as the quest system.” Freshman Nicholas Korff speculates a look into Hornet’s past, stating “We’re going get flashbacks to learn more about Hornet’s past and her relations to Deepnest and the Weavers (maybe even baby hornet with the pale king).” In Hollow Knight, we got a small glimpse of Hornet’s past and origin as a former princess of Hallownest. In Silksong, we will see how Pharloom connects to Hornet and her lineage and ultimately what role she will play in saving the kingdom. Freshman Olivia Brennan suggested that there will be cooler music. Being a game about silk and song, the soundtrack is played on strings, an innovative move from the composer. The music samples that you can find on YouTube: Lace, Bonebottom, and Hornet’s theme, painted a picture of triumph and sorrow through fast-paced strings and the slow melancholic piano reminiscent of Hollow Knight. 

With the release of Silksong still in the unknown, one could speculate countless ideas of what the game will be like and how it will leave an impression of us. The information we received serves as a reminder that behind closed doors are developers taking the time to bring the best experience in the vast world of the Hollow Knight franchise.  Soon, players new and old will take the journey to the peak of Pharloom and experience its dangerous yet elegant beauty.