Hollow Knight drip feeds its explicit narrative in satisfyingly measured spurts delivered by the game’s diverse cast of NPCs. And none of these encounters are as delightful as those that involve Quirrel.
A Metroidvania video game, Hollow Knight unlocks parts of its narrative as you gain access to new areas or backtrack to previously-seen rooms and stumble upon familiar faces. This is a known to happen often in this type of game but, in this adventure, the situations I found myself in were almost always surprising, no matter their subtlety.
Quirrel is my favorite character in the game. He not only looks cool, but he acts cool and has a tendency to share his observations of the world with you, sometimes in poetic and eye-opening monologues. I love him.
Not to go deep into spoilers, you encounter Quirrel at various points in the game and he shares his knowledge of the area or simply muses aloud about something. At one such encounter, I found him lying by the shores of the Blue Lake, a long chamber that ranks among the most beautiful and serene in the entire game. The music even dims slightly in this area to let your footsteps echo throughout its walls.
The mysterious bug is simply pondering life and, when you approach to listen, he tells you how grateful he is that he got to witness the vast world that is Hallownest, now in its ancient and somber decadence, and specially you, the player, whom he regards as a fascinating little miracle.
Of course, since the titular Knight you control is silent for the entire duration of the game, his lack of response yields this nugget of sincerity from Quirrel:
Ha. My flattery returns only silent stoicism. I like that.
I like that very much.
The entire conversation reveals something about Quirrel that by that point the player has probably been guessing, not just about this bug, but about all the denizens of Hallownest.
The scene is made truly memorable by the fact you can prompt the Knight to sit beside Quirrel and marvel at the still water with him. If you sit for long enough, the game will award you an achievement, but that’s besides the point.
Had I not taken the time to backtrack to this area for no reason, I might have missed this awesome revelation about my favorite character in the game, and what’s more, would’ve lost the chance to join in his coolness at least once before my adventure ended.