Hollow. As if some cosmic justice, some divine destiny or simply just bloody good luck, that’s exactly the game I’m going to review today. Finally, I get to review a game I want to play, something I was looking forward to…
Hollow Review [Nintendo Switch]
Hollow is a first-person survival horror game by Forever Entertainment. The game has you play as a male pilot waking up in a capsule pod boarding Shakhter-One: a mining space station that gathers resources from Jupiter. Boarding Shakhter-One and playing as another amnesiac, all you know from an emergency warning is that the power generators are down and that there are no living people aboard. It’s your job to regain power to the space station and find out what has happened on Shakhter-One.
As soon as the game loaded up with a warning ‘This game contains scenes of violence and gore’, a smile appeared on mine and any survival horror fan’s face. A lot of this game does seem to cater to a certain gamer of a certain generation, the golden age of survival horror games. As you move around, your character is clunky and slow, and even with the fastest movement toggled, your character doesn’t move that fast at all. Like the games of past, this isn’t an action fest either, it’s slow-paced and infrequent.
As you start to play the game, you begin to release it’s just as much of a corridor shooter with the puzzle elements of a survival horror game mixed in; the game does what all great survival horror games do, feed you enough ammo to deal with most situations, but it makes ammo rare, not easily accessible – if you are a crack shot you can drop enemies with a single bullet.
Hollow adds a new mechanic I’ve not seen before, which is when you reload, you remove the clip with the ammo remaining within that clip; essentially throwing away bullets, it’s a great feature to have in a survival horror game as it adds more tension and more of a thought process to the genre.
Hollow has you typically finding notes and reading files to get a deeper understanding of what has happened aboard Shakhter-One; you’ll find keycodes, but unlike other games, this one expects you to remember those codes. There are also collectables in the form of files and radios that play rather disturbing audio clips: ‘Rip his skin off’. Regarding enemies, there isn’t much variety as there are only 3 types. And there’s a lot of this around the ship:
Hollow is a dark game, a very dark game. I am squinting most of the time playing it. Not to mention that your flashlight can sometimes hinder your view further as the light bounces off surfaces. It really makes you think of the best times to use it and the darkness makes you cautious, giving the game a claustrophobic feeling.
For an indie game, the environments are impressive, they feel lived in, it feels like Shakhter-One is a real space station, even with the reused assets. You’ll sometimes come across bodies hung up by chains with intestines laying around, it’s very ’90s.
Hollow has some great moments too, one in which all the power drops out and all the ambient sounds just stop… oh pants. I laughed right near the end as well, it’s one of the messages, I won’t ruin it, but good work Forever Games!
There are a few glitches and irks, unfortunately, especially with the textures going a bit crazy. I’m also not a fan of when you die, it takes you back to the main menu, making you sit through a large number of load screens. Necessary? The game isn’t great at signposting either, I missed the first gun in the game simply because I didn’t see it. It’s that dark. Lastly, the writing and voice acting, in short, are terrible, but, to be fair, it’s survival horror from yesteryear.
Great talent is displayed in this game, but the whole experience just lacks execution. It doesn’t thrill, nor bore, it doesn’t scare nor make you feel at ease; the game is really straight down the middle. Old school survival horror fans will like it, but that’s about it; you’ll just say, ‘yeah it’s ok’.