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What Could Have Been / Hollow Knight

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The game is surprisingly long as it is, but there's a large amount of things shown during development that were cut or heavily changed, in addition to features whose crowdfunding stretch goals weren't reached. To reiterate, this is a list of stuff that were changed mid-development, or examples that differ from the final product but do not have any "residue" in the game files. For a list of cut content that are still present in the files in one form or another, but are only known to the user by inspecting the files or source codes themselves, see Dummied Out.

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A Weird and Wonderful World Trailer

Teased content and prototypes from the A Weird and Wonderful World trailer and its related Kickstarter update pages:
  • The Blundering Oberlisk was supposed to be a regular Mook, it had a teased sprite and the following description but all of these never made it in the game:
    "This placid herbivore doesn't seem to wish harm on any of the creatures it shares a habitat with. However, its careless nature and bulky weight sometimes leads to messy accidents."
  • A Shrumal NPC which looks like a Shrumal Warrior with an impaled Lightseed.
  • A giant spider with four orange eyes hiding in the background.
  • You could backdash a la Alucard from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, but Team Cherry decided to cut it because it "kills the flow of combat more than it adds to it".
  • The Desolate Dive ability in the game had an earlier version named "Tyrant's Fist". It has the same functionality of breaking delicate floors, but the animation is different, with the Knight clenching its fist in mid-air to deliver a Ground Pound punch.
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  • Statues of the White Lady, the Pale King and an unknown broken statue in the background of the boss area where Gruz Mother is fought. It has been referred to by fans as the "Higher Being Statues".
  • Vengeful Spirit had a different animation, where a ring of particles form around the Knight. Sly would have also sold you this ability for 600 Geo.
  • Sly's shop had other items named "Glow Bug Lamp" (possibly an earlier name or version of the Lumafly Lantern), "Greed Charm", "White Crystal Ring" and "Grey Mask Shard".
  • "Dream Diving" mechanic - You could access small areas inside the minds of any NPC, but the developers felt that it was an unnecessary feature. It also had a different animation where a floating brain spectre appears when NPCs are hit by the dream nail, and you must jump to it.
  • The Dream Diving demo also showed a younger version of the Elderbug.
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  • You could dive underwater in certain areas.
  • There's a giant snail and its younger snail "child" teased as NPCs in a place hinted to be the Snail Village.
  • The dialogue boxes also have smaller versions to indicate who's talking, like what was demonstrated when the younger snail NPC spoke. In the final game, all dialogue boxes cover the entire upper half of the screen instead.

Development news revealed in gaming websites

From interviews and revealed development progress in online game websites and articles:
  • In a PC Gamer interview on August 2017:
    • Old sketches of the game's maps were shown. The Higher Being Statues teased in the A Weird and Wonderful World trailer were seen in a corner of a map sketch. And guess what? The broken statue looks similar to the chained Hollow Knight's pose in the Black Egg Temple.
    • A level in the northeast corner of Hallownest called the "Forest of Bones", teased to be the place full of lava and bones, Ultimately, it was one of the heavily-modified parts mid-development but was scrapped in the end.
      • The Monarch Wings would've been located there, and the player had to light torches to open a gate.
      • All three Dreamers are found here, but the locations were supposed to be split and connected via the Forgotten Crossroads network.
      • It was also planned to be the location for the Final Boss fight.
      • Initially, it was supposed to be located next to the Ancient Basin. It was moved to the bottom part of Hallownest in another version, but the Ancient Basin took its location in the final build.
      • The Holy Grounds is a sub-location of the Forest of Bones, stated to be the initial place where Herrah the Beast was supposed to be found.
      • Herrah's name was originally Hegemol.
      • The level was eventually Refitted for Sequel, as shown in the announcement trailer and demo for Silksong that had a similar theme around bones and lava.
    • This early prototype map, which hints cut contents (e.g. trilobytes, a "zombie boss" fight granting the dash ability, etc...) or old placeholder names (e.g. "Lost Village", "Royal Highway", "Fungus", etc...)
    • Queen's Gardens was originally named Royal Garden.
    • An early map sketch planned Dryya and the White Lady to be located in the White Palace. The "White Knight" (presumably a placeholder name for the Kingsmould in the final build) was originally planned to have guarded the "Queen's Glade".
  • On September 2015, Rock Paper Shotgun published Ari's Sketchbook. It contains some unused concept arts like:
    • Alternate designs for trilobyte fossils. The trilobyte fossil in Deepnest would have some sort of importance, as Ari's Artbook shows the fossil to be dripping with a liquid substance from its mouth or head.
    • A different version of the City of Tears monument.
    • Winged Nosk also didn't have that orange infected sack on its belly, and it had a sharp long tail that looks like a whip.
    • The White Lady in a spherical object, hinted to be a "cocoon".
    • The Dreamers' fights would have turned them into Flunky Bosses that can summon minions. A note in the sketch book hinted that they were planned to be difficult to fight. However, the Dreamers ended up being Zero Effort Bosses in the actual game.
  • In GameInformer's "The Making of Hollow Knight" interview, Lurien the Watcher was originally named "Lurian, the Whispherer".

Unmet or altered Kickstarter stretch goals and other teased content in the official website

The game had a lot of stuff teased in the Kickstarter platform where it was funded. But sadly, not all of the initial drafts made it as-is in the game - Some were cut, some where changed or recontextualized. This list covers both the stretch goals and Team Cherry's update notes that differ in the final product:
  • There were a lot of placeholder names revealed in the Kickstarter updates, that were eventually replaced in the final product. Generally, the beta names were long and mouthful:
    • Gruz Mother was originally named "Empress Muzznik".
    • Vengfly was "Vengeward Buzzerfly".
    • Crawlids were originally named "Snittering Crawlids".
    • Gruzzers were "Droobling Muzzniks".
    • Tiktik was "Segmented Clamberbab".
    • Aspid Hunter was once "Bulbous Hummingnit (Male)", while the Aspid Mother was "Bulbous Hummingnit (Female)".
    • A lot of Husk-type enemies (Wandering Husk, Husk Hornhead, Leaping Husk, Husk Warrior) all had the same placeholder name of "Endemons Sapien (Infected)".
    • Baldur was "Scrundling Propede (Infant)".
    • The Mantis Tribe was called "Mantian Tribe", while Mantis Warrors were called "Lesser Mantian".
    • A Kickstarter update on December 6, 2014 revealed that Bretta's early development name was Bertha.
    • The Watcher Knights were revealed under the name "Black Knight".
    • Great Hoppers were called "Greater Susking Hoppod".
    • Godmaster itself originally had the much easier on the tongue name "Gods and Glory", but this had to be changed a month before the DLC came out due to copyright concerns over other media with a similar name.
  • The Colosseum of Fools, the Abyss, the Hive, and the White Palace have less content than proposed:
    • The Colosseum was meant to be found in Fungal Wastes.
    • The Abyss was planned to have four boss fights.
    • The White Palace was planned to have two bosses named King's Golem and Dusk Knight. The King's Golem was eventually turned into the Kingsmoulds we now have in the game.
    • The Hive was supposed to be connected to Deepnest, and that Hornet was supposed to have some sort of connection to the Hive's Queen, Vespa. (This could have turned Hornet's name into a Meaningful Name, since it refers to a bee insect). There's a statement from Ari Gibson supporting this:
      "Vespa to Hornet was intentional. There was an old concept here that may still apply: Hornet was the 'Child of Three Queens,' one birthed, one raised, one trained. It is from the third queen that Hornet took her name. Whether that notion still applies however, I can't confirm, though it was definitely the basis for the names."
    • Fortunately, updates later gave the White Palace a secret area and added a boss for the Hive.
  • There was supposed to be a Wii U port in order for the game to be presented on a Nintendo console. But the decision went for the Nintendo Switch instead... Understandable, since the Switch was the latest console at that time just a few days after Hollow Knight was released.
  • A PS Vita port was teased as well, but nothing came out of that.
  • The Nailmasters and the Five Great Knights were teased to be bosses (To be specific, there was a teased duel with Dryya, and a sprite of her was posted in the Kickstarter page on December 2014). In the released version of the game, the Nailmasters teach you their skills via cutscenes and most of the Great Knights are dead (you do fight Ogrim the Dung Defender and the maggot in possession of Hegemol's armor). Eventually, the Nailmasters as well as the Great Nailsage were made proper bosses in Godmaster, though the missing Great Knights remain out of the action.
  • The Dung Defender had a different backstory as teased in a boss Kickstarter update:
    "Deep in the Waterways beneath the City of Tears lurks a shunned being. Once a knight, now lost to puerile obsession: The Dung Defender. Despite his exile, the Dung Defender has for centuries maintained a self-conferred charge: the protection of his mysterious gleaming 'beloved.' Stalwart and full of bravado, the Dung defender eagerly challenges all who would enter his noxious realm."
  • A dungeon called "Carnival of Crustaceans" that would have organ music, hanging lights and tents, (these details were actually used in the Grimm Troupe's tent). In the original plan, there was also a Crab boss named Crabello.
  • The various Backer NPCs went through some changes before they were finalized into the game. For example:
    • Cloth was supposed to be named "Burlap" and was referred to using male pronouns. The name was ditched because the material burlap doesn't exist in Hallownest.
    • Tiso's storyline was supposed, or at least teased, to have a better conclusion than him just dying offscreen.
    • Gorb was supposed to be named Aladar, after his backer.
  • From the Hollow Knight Press Kit (some overlapping with other Kickstarter notes):
    • Relic Seeker Lemm was originally named Relic Seeker Marm, based on screenshots.
    • The placeholder name for Baldur Shell is "Propede Shell".
    • The Broken Vessel had two placeholder names. It was named "Infected Knight" in a Kickstarter update, and named as the "Broken Wanderer" in the Press Kit.
    • A screenshot shows a Glimback walking vertically on the wall of Crystal Peak. However in the final version, Glimbacks can only walk on horizontal surfaces.
    • Crystal Crawlers have altered designs.
  • Myla's design was different from what was initially teased, had a male voice, and was just called "The Miner".
  • The teased "Glorify Charms" feature from the Godmaster update didn't actually make it in the game.
  • Hollow Knight: Silksong was initially a mere DLC expansion for the first game, in order to have Hornet as a playable character. However, the developers felt the scope of the DLC ended up being greater and more unique than imagined, so it became its own game. It'll still be free for the few thousand who backed it on Kickstarter.
  • A Kickstarter goal teased Zote to be another playable character, but that goal wasn't reached or funded.
  • When the charms system and some images were revealed in the February 2016 Kickstarter update, there were initial images or prototypes that were different in the final build:
    • Several of these prototype/placeholder images can be seen in the icons for the Charm-related Achievements.
    • Fragile Greed was called "Unending Greed (Glass)", and it appears to be a darker blue version of the Unbreakable Greed's image.
    • Vengeful Swarm - You spawn angry enemy-seeking hatchling when you are attacked - a combination of the effects provided by Thorns of Agony and Glowing Womb.
    • Two recolored variations of the Unbreakable Heart charm - one has a darker brown tint, while the other has glowing light-blue eyes.
    • A completely brown-filtered version of the Dashmaster.
    • Five unused charm images from the Hollow Knight Press Kit. Four are simply named "Generic_Charm", while this one is named "Charm_Wall_Reveal".
  • A fly NPC resembling a small Gruzzer was in an image showcasing the town of Dirtmouth.
  • Crawlids initially didn't have spikes on their shells.
  • The infected bellies of the Aspid Hunters and Aspid Mothers were initially dark red, before the bright orange variant was finalized.
  • The Nailsmith had an additional pair of legs and a larger hammer in the pre-release promotional arts.
  • The God Tamer had a different concept early on - It was called the "Lobster Lancer" and rode a giant lobster as a mount.
  • In a Kickstarter GIF, a Lifeseed comes out of a defeated Husk, but nothing sort of that interaction happens to the enemies in the final product.
  • The beta version of the game, and a Press Kit screenshot implied that the Hoppers were supposed to be in the first areas of the game, such as in the Forgotten Crossroads.

Miscellaneous bits from the Reddit AMAs


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