Watch me map 30 hours of Metroidvania exploration in 30 seconds

SPOILER WARNING: I won't be discussing any plot, bosses, or specific gameplay stuff, but there is an image below that reveals the full Hollow Knight map and key locations on it. You have been warned. 

There's an overwhelming amount of stuff to do in Hollow Knight. The indie Metroidvania has undoubtedly become one my favorite games of 2017 so far, and not just because of its stunning hand drawn art. It has an intricate and massive map, full of gated areas and secrets hidden behind tantalizing gaps just a bit too wide to jump. 

But as the game goes on, new movement abilities break that sprawling city wide open. As games like this often do, dead ends suddenly become new paths, and gaining something as simple as a double jump means countless pits can now be cleared. Countless, that is, unless you count them. Which I did. 

About six hours into my 35 hour playthrough of Hollow Knight, I started to lose track of all the places I'd been. I had so many different paths I could follow, that finding a new movement ability mostly meant struggling to remember all the places I could use it. So, inspired partly by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's map, I started to take notes on a custom map of my own in Adobe Photoshop. Across 30 hours of Hollow Knight, here is what the evolution of that map looks like:

You can check out the full resolution version of the GIF here.

Each time I stopped playing, I would screenshot all the new areas of the map I had revealed and stitch them into a high-resolution collage. Whenever I hit a suspicious dead end or a jump just a bit too far to make, I wrote a note in red on that spot with what ability I assumed I might need to traverse it. If I found a boss I couldn't beat, I'd write a note in purple, and I'd label areas I didn't have a map for yet in white. Even confusing little details like the plants I'd end up extracting Essence from later would be jotted down, just in case I had to come back for them.

I didn't always get this stuff right, either. For example, I assumed I would either get an ability that let me jump farther or jump higher, but it ended up being both. Also, the bottom right corner of the map was labeled "Bumblebee Land" for quite some time. But it was fascinating to look back and examine the path I took when exploring this world—including one time where I fell down a hole and accidentally had to fight spiders for two hours. Hollownest is a vicious place. 

Still, I tried not to let my map to dictate where I would go next, it was just helpful that I didn't have to keep all that info in my head between sessions. Whether or not it's a good thing or a bad thing that a game could be so large it necessitates this level of personal cartography is another question altogether. Honestly, if nothing else, this exercise reaffirmed my belief that new games need to start stealing ideas from Breath of the Wild as soon as they possibly can. 

Hollow Knight is a seriously wonderful game filled to the brim with things to do. We didn't get a chance to review it when it first came out in February, but thankfully I'll be able to correct that in the coming days. Update: You can now read my full review here.

Tom Marks
Tom is PC Gamer’s Associate Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific on to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.