Tips for playing Hollow Knight hero image.

Hollow Knight: 14 Tips Every Beginner Should Know

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Rhett Roxl is a professional writer who has been gaming for as long as he can remember. He merged both passions together to become a writer in the game industry in 2020.

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Marshall is a seasoned writer and gaming enthusiast based in Tokyo. He's a prolific wordsmith with hundreds of articles featured on top-tier sites like Business Insider, How-To Geek, PCWorld, and Zapier. His writing has reached a massive audience with over 70 million readers!

Hollow Knight is a game that demands your utmost patience and focus. It’s not an easy game to complete. Understanding the mechanics of the game, as well as a few tips, can bring you a long way during your playthrough.

Table Of Contents

    Hollow Knight’s Death Mechanic

    Dying in Hollow Knight.

    Hollow Knight’s death mechanic is quite simple. Whenever all of your Masks get shattered, you die and you’ll get sent back to the last bench your rested at. Once that happens, you leave behind your Shade on the spot where you got killed, along with all of your Geos. Your Soul gauge will also be limited for the time being.

    Now, you must get back to the area where you recently perished. You should find your Shade floating around there. Defeat the Shade and you’ll fully restore your Soul Gauge as well as all of your Geos.

    However, if you die again before reaching your Shade, all of the Geos you had will be lost forever. That said, you’ll need to be extra careful when you’ve just recently perished, most especially if you’ve already saved up a ton of Geos.

    Your Own Personal Bank

    Relic Seeker Lemm.

    There is a banker in Hallownest, but we’re not talking about her. Nor is there a way to safe-keep your Geo. But what you can do is hold on to your collectibles that can be sold off and sell them in bulk when you need the Geo instead of selling them as you find them. In this way, you’re able to “save” Geo without actually having Geo, as you don’t lose collectibles when you die.

    Collectibles can be sold to Relic Seeker Lemm, who is located in the City of Tears to the west of the statue of the Hollow Knight. These are the collectibles that can be sold, and for how much:

    • Wanderer’s Journal: 200 Geo
    • Hallownest Seal: 450 Geo
    • King’s Idol: 800 Geo
    • Arcane Egg: 1200 Geo

    This tip was provided by Reddit user u/Cortysus

    Purchase the Lumafly Lantern as Soon as You Can

    Purchasing Lumafly Lantern from Sly in Hollow Knight.

    The Lumafly Lantern is a nifty little item that brightens up dark levels. Given the game has a lot of these dark rooms, the Lumafly Lantern is essentially one of the game’s most useful items. This item is necessary for levels such as Deepnest, Crystal Peaks, Royal Waterways, Ancient Basin, and several others.

    You can purchase this item from Sly for 1,800 Geos. That said, make sure you save up enough Geos to buy this item as early as you can. It’s better that, save for maps and a certain Charm, this be the first item you should save up for. You should be able to have enough Geos to buy this after you explore at least three levels.

    Find Cornifer

    Cornifer from Hollow Knight.

    Cornifer is the game’s cartographer. You can find him at every level, except for the Resting Grounds where he leaves a letter instead, telling you to purchase the area’s map at their store in Dirtmouth.

    Having an area’s map will make exploring it much easier. Seek out Cornifer whenever you head into new levels. He leaves a literal paper trail which should make it easy for you to follow his exact location. You can also tell if he’s nearby from his humming.


    a grub from hollow knight

    Grubs in Hollow Knight are little caterpillar-like creatures that are trapped inside jars. You can spot these little guys all around the game. Whenever you come across them, be sure to take the time to shatter their jars to set them free.

    Once freed, they will burrow into the ground beneath them. They’ll eventually find their way to the Grubfather who’s located at the northwestern part of the Forgotten Crossroads. The Grubfather will constantly give you rewards such as Geos, Charms, and other items as long as you keep freeing Grubs. There are a total of 46 of them in the game.

    Change up Charms

    Dashmaster charm in Hollow Knight.

    While it’s fine to maintain a singular build by equipping one set of charms throughout your entire playthrough of Hollow Knight, it is also a very good idea to be flexible, especially when it comes to certain bosses.

    For example, if you prefer attacking with melee, you can equip charms such as Quick Slash and Mark of Pride for the rest of the game. If you prefer being liberal with Spells, you can equip Soul Catcher and Shaman Stone. You can keep your preferred build for the entirety of the game for as long as you’ve acquired the necessary charms.

    However, there are certain bosses in Hollow Knight that call for melee combat and some are better dealt with by attacking them from afar using Spells. That said, if you believe a boss can be dealt with better by employing a different strategy than your usual, don’t hesitate to change up your charms. You can change them back whenever you can afterward by resting on a bench.


    Nail bouncing in Hollow Knight.

    Nail-bouncing is a platforming trick in Hollow Knight where you jump and attack downwards on an enemy or a spike, making you “bounce” on said articles. The practice of nail-bouncing, also known as pogo-jumping, takes some getting used to. Once you get the hang of it, though, it can really make playing the game more nuanced.

    Almost any obstacle in the game can be nail-bounced. You can use them on the mushrooms in the Fungal Wastes to bounce up higher. You can also use them on the Garpedes in Deepnest to reach a Vessel Fragment. It is also required to complete the entirety of the White Palace.

    With that in mind, be sure to get the hang of this mechanic. Practice on enemies first. Equipping charms such as Longnail or Mark of Pride can also make nail-bouncing easier.

    Confessor Jiji

    Confessor Jiji from Hollow Knight.

    Confessor Jiji is an NPC that can be found in the eastern-most area in Dirtmouth. She’s behind a locked door right beside the elevator that leads to Crystal Peak. This door can be opened with a Simple Key.

    Confessor Jiji can summon your Shades for you in exchange for Rancid Eggs. This means you won’t have to return to your place of recent death anymore to defeat your Shade and acquire all of your Geos back. You can simply give Jiji and Rancid Egg and defeat the Shade then and there.

    Never Skip Sitting on a Bench

    Resting at a bench in Hollow Knight.

    One very simple but extremely helpful tip for playing Hollow Knight is to never skip sitting on a bench. It can be unintentionally overlooked at times which makes it infuriating whenever you die far away from your previously rested bench.

    People often make this mistake whenever they’re farming or searching for a particular item or Grub. They don’t bother sitting at a bench close to them because the current goal isn’t progression. But when something goes wrong, and something can always go wrong when it comes to this game, they’re sent back to a bench that’s really far away when there’s one that was just close to their previous location.

    Quitting to the Main Menu and Loading the Game Again Sends You to Your Previous Bench

    Hollow Knight's main menu.

    Here’s a nifty trick you can keep in mind, especially when you’re farming or are looking for a particular item in Hollow Knight. Once you’ve gathered enough Geo while farming or have found the item you were searching for, instead of running back to the previous bench you rested at, you can simply hit the game’s menu and quit to the Main Menu. Once you reload the game, you’ll automatically be sent back to your previously rested bench with everything you’ve just collected intact.

    Breakable Walls and Floors

    Breakable wall from Hollow Knight.

    Hollow Knight is filled with breakable walls and floors. Some of them contain Grubs, some contain hidden items, others even hide a massive section of the level or an entire sub-level. That said, whenever you spot these breakable walls, which can be easily spotted because of their different texture, destroy them and explore. You never know what you might find.

    Desolate Dive/Descending Dark Makes You Invulnerable for a Few Seconds

    Descending Dark from Hollow Knight.

    The Desolate Dive spell, or its upgrade variant Descending Dark, is a powerful attack and a necessary exploration ability since it will allow you to destroy certain floors to access certain areas of the game. On top of that, this spell also has a defensive characteristic.

    Whenever you perform this spell, the Knight will remain invulnerable for a few seconds. This means you can attack a boss using this spell and have a few seconds to gather yourself before you can be damaged again. It is also helpful in evading attacks and traps that are difficult to dodge away from.

    You Can Buy Markers

    Markers from Hollow Knight.

    You can purchase map markers from Iselda in Dirtmouth. These markers can be pinned on your map if ever there’s an item you wish to scout or any other similar uses. There are four types of markers in Iselda’s shop, each with a different color, so you can use one pin for a certain type of item and a different one for another.

    Equip the Wayward Compass Charm

    Wayward Compass charm from Hollow Knight.

    It is often joked about within the Hollow Knight community that the Wayward Compass is the most overpowered charm in the game. Players say this as a joke but its usefulness in exploration is certainly undeniable.

    The Wayward Compass will show your location on the map. First-time players of the game should definitely equip this charm at all times given how disorienting the game’s level structures can be. You can simply swap this charm for something else during boss fights or when you’ve played enough of the game and become familiar with the map.