Trapped in a cave! Gotta get out of there fast. There are flying jellyfish monsters, falling rocks, spikes, and other lovely bits of danger, but if you're fast enough, you can escape without harm. Connor Ullmann's Hollow is a platform game that's high on the challenge with a healthy injection of creative design on almost every level. You'll meet an untimely end dozens of times in this game, but you'll keep plugging away at it all the same. Practice leads to perfection!
Initially created as a Ludum Dare entry, and then fleshed out a bit more for a commercial release, Hollow keeps everything very simple, which is part of the game's strong appeal. Use the [arrow] keys to move, [X] to jump and [C] to do an insane forward head dive. Those are your only moves, but you'll learn to use them creatively to navigate the cave's terrain. Your dive can carry you across small gaps and give you an extra boost in height. It can also defeat enemies, though not all of these creepy cave alien things are vulnerable to your pearly white noggin bumps.
You can't play Hollow by running around hitting keys at random. The levels are carefully designed to make you take your time, measure your movements, and act only when it's time. That being said, don't think you'll be doing a lot of standing around admiring the scenery. Hollow also encourages you to keep the gas pedal down, charging through areas because taking a break is just the wrong thing to do (and rocks will probably fall on your head). In the end, you'll play each level a dozen or so times, dying at different points and slowly learning how to make it to the exit in one piece.
Analysis: Hollow is the kind of game you'll play until you complete no matter how many times you groan in exasperation over another pointless demise. The short levels keep you motivated to work through each one regardless of how frequently you restart. After all, the exit is just up ahead, so why give up now? The creativity of the enemies is another motivating factor. The world of Hollow feels like an alien planet, and dealing with the squishy baddies is both rewarding and fun.
Achievements are a semi-invisible part of Hollow, and nabbing all ten of them is something you'll have to work towards. Most can be earned with one good play-through, but a few you'll have to go back to get after you've obtained a certain level of mastery. Press [A] to bring up a list of the achievements to see what you've got left to do.
Although Hollow is mostly an action-oriented game, there are a few secrets to be found. The biggest is a hidden exit that shortens the game, allowing you to finish early. Where is it? How do you reach it? Is there a leprechaun there? You'll have to find out!
A short, challenging game with great level design and an art style that's sure to please, Hollow is exactly the sort of game you want to occupy a lazy afternoon.