A few years ago, we got the “Alien” game we deserved all along: Isolation. Sadly, while it was a cult hit, it didn’t do too well sales-wise, and so far it hasn’t made the Switch to this generation’s Nintendo console. And while we do have a survival horror duo worthy of playing in the “Resident Evil Revelations” collection, they are indeed a ports of ports of ports (as it has been the case for many Switch games), and have been played already by most. “Hollow” aims to fill the void left by absentees such as “Silent Hill” by giving Switch owners a survival horror fix alternative. Does it succeed?
Well, it’s a complex question to answer. There’s plenty to like, for sure: the presentation (though other outlets have not liked it), is right up my alley: a mixture of dark environments, grimy textures and 1980’s spaceship-of-the-future is a cocktail that I find very difficult to resist. The voice acting, while not great (and in some parts, technically off – including clipping –), complements the story nicely, and adds to the experience much more than it takes away from it.
Gameplay-wise, this is a survival horror game, through and through. You wander around a very, very dark, very creepy environment, trying to find out what happened to the crew of the Shakhter One, the ship you’re on. Can’t be anything good, as the power’s out and the place is a mess. The ship is quite large, but there’s a map to hand that you will use to navigate the different areas and accomplish goes. I am a former Army man and I found the map a bit confusing. After some trial and error, though, I got my brain around it and off we went.
The collision detection is a bit off, so sometimes you will miss objects that are right in front of you if you’re not exactly where the game wants you to be. It’s a first-person affair, so it can be a bit frustrating when you know you should be able to pick up ammo or vaccines, but can’t get the game to detect you’re right in front of them. Thankfully, most of the important things in the game are highlighted in the map, so you’ll be able to zero in on objects of importance and then… well, kind of hope for the best. It’s not the greatest interaction, but as it doesn’t require split-second reflexes, it’s more annoying than game-breaking.
The localization in terms of text, especially within the UI, is a mixed bag. There are simple terms such as “pick up” that are written simply as “pick”. This is a common issue with games that are made by teams whose primary language isn’t English and might bother some more than others. As a dual-language speaker myself, I found it charming rather than outright bad. It’s not an RPG after all, and I much prefer to have some UI terms slightly wonky on a survival horror game, than, say, have obscene language inserted into a supposedly family friendly RPG (I’m looking at you, Lacrimosa of Dana).
“Hollow” does present some rough edges here and there, in terms of presentation in particular. I also struggled to actually see what went on. I know it’s part of the atmosphere, and playing mostly in tabletop mode probably didn’t help, but I wish it was a tad bit lighter, or had a gamma slider to adjust things at least some.
These issues aside, though, I really liked this little game. The soundscapes are downright sinister, and while the gameplay is a bit wonky in terms of detection and boundaries… I did not find these issues prevented me from enjoying the game.
“Hollow” is no “Alien: Isolation”, but it doesn’t pretend to be. This is a budget title that hits way above its category, and, if you can look past some minor technical gripes, a good survival title that is worth picking up for fans of the genre.