May 14, 2021

The Hollow Knight display at this Australian art centre is full of gorgeous concept art

This week I haven’t been able to stop thinking about travelling. At first it was caused by seeing the lovely beaches in Valorant’s new map, but now it’s the fault of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). This Melbourne-based art centre has a Hollow Knight display that I would very much like to visit. It features development sketchbooks and early maps from the game’s production, all showcasing some of the beautiful art that went into Team Cherry’s bug-filled metroidvania.

You can check out the display on the ACMI website (thanks, Mossbag). According to a few posts on Reddit, you’re able to play the game there too.

One of the most eye-catching additions to the collection for me is a large colourful map that shows the plans for each of Hollow Knight’s areas. The whole thing is a reminder of just how huge the game is, and you can pull out a few details that were chopped and changed from the final map. All along the bottom, there’s an area called the Forest Of Bone, which was cut before the game’s release. It’s roughly where the Ancient Basin is, way below the City Of Tears, and is filled with notes and doodles of things players would’ve come across, like bosses, grubs and more.

In a Q&A a couple of years ago, one of the Hollow Knight devs revealed a few details about what the Forest Of Bones would’ve been like, so it’s nice to put an image to that. They’d planned for the area to be home to two lava worm minibosses, one of the Dreamers, “fifty unique enemies”, and “bizarre surprises around every turn”.

Some of the sketches found in the display are the same ones that Pip wrote about back in 2015, two years before Hollow Knight came out. Others are art that haven’t really been seen before, like this early drawing of the White Lady. Artist Ari Gibson’s work has so much character to it, and it’s amazing that almost everything in these sketchbooks made it into the final game.


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Here’s one of the sketchbook pages Gibson showed Pip, this one can also be spotted in the ACMI.

I’ve made it abundantly clear on RPS that I miss Hollow Knight. So, in lieu of any news about the upcoming sequel Silksong, it’s nice to have a look through concept art like this. (And who knows? Maybe the few bits that didn’t make it into Hollow Knight might turn up in Silksong.)

The ACMI exhibits works from all sorts of Australian TV, films and games. It’s heartwarming knowing an indie game made by a small dev team exists in the same space as a big film franchise like Mad Max, and I’d love to see more modern games recognised in places like this. Games are a fantastic mixture of art, video, animation, music and more, and it’d be great to be able to learn more about their production in museums and art centres.

If you’re lucky enough to live near the ACMI, the Hollow Knight display will be on show until February 2023, so you have plenty of time to visit. If not, you can check it out online. The ACMI have a bunch of other digital displays about Aussie-made games too, including LA Noire and Florence.