Platform: PC, Switch (Reviewed)
Publisher: Forever Entertainment S. A.
Release date: Out now
tl;dr: Dead Space-lite
PC: $20 / £15
Switch: $20 / £18
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
Hollow tells the story of a pilot who has been tasked to deliver cargo from the from the mining ship, Shakhter-One, down to Earth. Unfortunately, following an unexplained event, the ship suffers major damage and players wake up in a emergency capsule with a major case of amnesia. With a simple hint in the shape of the autopilot docking code for capsule dock NR 6, your goal? To remember and survive.
Hollow is a first person survival horror/shooter title; the best way to explain this game is basically Dead Space in first person mode. Players navigate through Shakhter-One in order to find clues and hints so they can regain their memory and progress through the game. Obviously, expect resistance, as players aren’t alone on the ship.
Thankfully, and I use that term loosely, there’s a map players can consult to navigate the ship, but it displays in pseudo 3D, making navigation confusing as you can’t tell where you’re going and where you’re supposed to go rendering it completely useless (view below). Furthermore, the default character movement is slow, like mind-numbing slow, where the protagonist could come in last in a race with a turtle and a snail. There’s a “run,” button, but it barely makes the protagonist move any faster. Thankfully the game’s shooting mechanics are solid and efficient. As with most shooters, enemies are bullet sponges, so aiming for a headshot is a safe bet. Ammo can be scarce, so shooting the head will make short work of enemies and save you precious bullets.
My main gripe with the game is the lack of checkpoints. While the game does have save points spread across the ship, there’s no checkpoints, which means if you die, all you can do is reload the last save point. This is the perfect setup for frustration, as dying after a 30 minute or more session because you couldn’t find the save points amidst the bland backdrop (more on that later) is sure to cause frustrations and rage quit. Add on top of that the serious lack of health items in the vessel, you’ll often find yourself on the receiving end of a death, especially if your health meter is almost depleted when you do your last save.
The game’s presentation is an overall disappointment. While I can understand players are stranded on a ship, players won’t be traveling to different environments, but everything is so dark and bland that it often makes it difficult to find the next item/clue to pick up or activate in order to progress forward. The developers also re-used the same asset for the enemy design, providing a weak variety throughout my playthrough. Audio wise, the game sounds much better in portable mode on Switch with headphones; the creepy atmosphere and atmospheric noises will get to you, especially when coming nose to nose (or back to nose) with an enemy. The protagonist’s voiceover is quite laughable, and you’ll often find typos in the subtitles. Although, I’d like to point out that despite its bland setting, it’s the small details like creepy candles, enemies sneaking up on you, and the game’s atmospheric audio that will salvage this game: it is, after all, a survival horror title.
It is kind of difficult to recommend Hollow considering the best thing it has going for it is being a indie equivalent to Dead Space. The overall package feels lackluster. Combat can be rough around the edges, navigating through the ship is a confusing and convoluted mess, and then the crazy difficulty. While the game nails down the horror atmosphere and can induce nightmares while playing with headphones, the gameplay brings down what could’ve been the best horror title on Switch; the overall atmosphere and creepy setting will definitely make this game stand out. Additionally, depending how many times you die, the game can be completed under three hours, reducing its replay value from slim to none.
- Closest thing we’ll get to a new Dead Space game
- Creepy atmosphere
- Best played with headphones
- Confusing navigation
- Feels like you’re walking through molasses
- Lack of checkpoints
Being a survival horror title, Hollow is not meant for the young gamers of your family due to the presence of horror, gore and violence, with a PEGI 18 rating and ESRB M for Mature.
This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the developer for the purposes of this review.