Why Hollow Knight: Silk Song Isn’t Here Yet

Ashley_Buckwell
edited August 2023 in Gaming

Hollow Knight is a two-dimensional Metroidvania adventure game created by Team Cherry. The story follows a mysterious character known as the Knight in their quest to uncover the secrets of Hallownest, an ancient kingdom that was once home to a great civilization. Along the way, they encounter powerful bosses and dangerous enemies who will test their mettle.

In video games, the Metroidvania classification refers to any game containing the major gameplay concepts shared by the Metroid series and later Castlevania games. Metroidvania games typically involve a single large area or a set of large areas broken up into many different rooms, corridors, and open spaces, with progress in the game being driven by the discovery of tools or abilities that allow the player to better navigate obstacles and unlock new areas in a nonlinear manner. The developers of Hollow Knight mastered this genre, crafting a complex world filled with lush environments, destructible objects, cleverly-designed foes, engaging level design, and tons of secrets.

Hollow Knight was released for Windows, Linux, and macOS in early 2017 and for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in 2018. The game was well received by critics, with particular praise for its music, art style, worldbuilding, atmosphere, and combat mechanics. The developers also released four free expansions to the game that are available as DLC packs. The upcoming sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, was originally conceived as one such expansion to the game; however, the amount of content within Silksong became so large that Team Cherry quickly made the decision to release it as a complete sequel.

Hollow Knight: Silksong trailer

Silksong is expected to combine all the adventurous gameplay and impeccable world design of its predecessor while also adding in its own unique touches. Gameplay will be similar to the previous Hollow Knight title, featuring two-dimensional platforming and combat. Changes will include the character Hornet moving with more of an acrobatic flair and the character being able to heal themselves instantly. Sidequests will also be part of the sequel, and a journal mechanism will be available to keep track of progress.

Hollow Knight developers: Team Cherry

Team Cherry is a development trio based in Adelaide, South Australia. The team consists of two codirectors—Ari Gibson and Willam Pellen, and one coder—Jack Vine. The response to Hollow Knight, which is the team’s only finished product, resulted in Team Cherry becoming an indie development darling nearly overnight. Outside of the listed three, Team Cherry also employs or contracts technical directors, environment designers, beta testers, musicians, and more.

Silksong news: Why is it taking so long?

Silksong was officially announced on February 14, 2019, meaning that it has been in development for more than 4 years, and considering that development on the story and content for the sequel has been ongoing in some form or another since shortly after the release of the original Hollow Knight, Silksong’s total development period is possibly as long as 6 years. With such a lengthy development period, it's not surprising that excitement has been building among fans. Nevertheless, anticipation can easily become impatience, and many fans are asking why it is taking so long to make Silksong.

It might be easy to overlook, but it should always be remembered that Hollow Knight began life through crowdfunding by an indie developer. Though it's undeniable that the game's success proved its backers were right to support it, this isn't always the case for similar projects. At one point in time, only a third of Kickstarter games were fully delivered. Recognizing that Team Cherry's debut game came from significantly humble beginnings and beat the odds should inform how Silksong's own development is viewed.

Several additional factors should be considered when asking why Silksong’s release is taking so long:

  • Silksong is supposedly going to be even bigger than its predecessor and come with a brand new map. Hollow Knight had 35 bosses, and that's not even including any that were introduced in DLC. Each boss needs to be designed, coded, and extensively playtested, and if Silksong is going to have as many bosses as Hollow Knight, this will take time. Also, the tools available to Hornet and Hornet's movement and combat mechanics are likely to be more complex than what we saw for Knight, so development of Silksong may be more challenging as well as being more expansive.
  • A bigger development budget enables a bigger game but also poses a risk of scope creep. The development process of Silksong is considerably different than it was when Team Cherry was working on Hollow Knight. To develop its first game, Team Cherry had to crowdfund through Kickstarter. Now, thanks to the success of that first title, the development of Silksong is not subject to the same budgetary restrictions, which means Team Cherry will be able to build something even bigger than before—and take longer to do so. Without effective management, the scope of the project can grow beyond what the small team is capable of. One might expect that with a bigger budget, Team Cherry would bring on more coders and designers to speed up development, but without the right management to handle more team members, this additional manpower may not result in a corresponding increase in developer efficiency.
  • The success of Hollow Knight and the anticipation for Silksong means Team Cherry has a huge responsibility to deliver a great game. When Hollow Knight was released in 2017, there were fewer fans jumping on immediately, which meant that Team Cherry had a chance to patch any bugs that emerged before the game reached a larger audience. With Silksong, there are many players waiting to play from day one, and so Team Cherry needs to take extra care—and time—in developing a bug-free release.

Hollow Knight: Silksong release date

Team Cherry marketing and publishing representative Matthew Griffin declared on May 10, 2023 that the game was delayed, stating "We had planned to release in the first half of 2023, but development is still continuing." Therefore, the question “When does Silksong come out?” still cannot be answered definitively. Given that Team Cherry had initially planned to launch in the first half of 2023, a revised release window of late 2023 or early 2024 seems plausible; however, we have to keep in mind that the latest official announcement made no such promises.

Silksong is in development for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S, and will be available on Xbox Game Pass on day one. Make sure to check out all of the games available on Game Pass, and see why Acer is an official sponsor. 

Ashley is a technology writer who is interested in computers and software development. He is also a fintech researcher and is fascinated with emerging trends in DeFi, blockchain, and bitcoin. He has been writing, editing, and creating content for the ESL industry in Asia for eight years, with a special focus on interactive, digital learning.

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