5. The Radiance
We’re starting this list off with a bang huh? Fifth place goes to none other that the true final boss of the game, The Radiance. She is the main villain of the game, the cause of the Infection that happened after the Pale King took control over Hallownest. The Radiance is sealed within the Hollow Knight and is unable to be fought unless the Knight is in possession of the Void Heart, a completion bonus essentially for going through one of the toughest platforming challenges in the game. After obtaining it, Hornet will appear halfway through the fight and pins down the Hollow Knight, where you can choose two options: kill the Hollow Knight and serve as the new vessel, or enter his Dreams and fight the boss we’re talking about today. The Radiance is a fitting end of the game; a test of all your skills and strategies. She levitates in the air while teleporting through the arena. At first it doesn’t look too bad. She has around five different attacks that all come down to multiple swords or beams surrounding her and covering a diagonal line the way they’re facing. You’ll have to absolutely avoid them however, as they do two masks of damage instead of just one. But once a certain amount of damage is done, she will also spawn spikes from the floor that cover half of the battlefield. It is also very unlikely that you will be able to heal a lot, except in one of the later phases. The Radiance has a total of five phases, and for that reason is the true challenge awaiting you before getting the ending. But therein also comes The Radiance biggest flaw. It is a tough battle and one mistake can be the end of you. But if you do die by her hands, you’ll have to defeat the semi-final boss Hollow Knight before being able to fight her again. It is annoying; not because the battle is difficult, but because it consumes quite a lot of time and you may or may not have a specific charm setup for The Radiance that might not be the best for the Hollow Knight. Regardless, The Radiance is a good boss fight that will test you to see if you’re worthy of seeing the true ending of the game.
4. Soul Master
Funnily enough this is actually a boss I don’t remember too much about as I killed him on my first try by constantly whaling on him. But what I do remember is it being a fun fight. He is the leader of the Soul Sanctum, who believed hoarding souls would stave off the Infection. He was also deceived by the Radiance who would promise him eternal life in exchange for gathering the souls of the bugs. For a normal boss he has quite a lot of attacks, and that’s why I remember it being a fun fight. His main attack would be homing orbs that will follow you until they hit the ground or a wall, even if you jump over them. Not only that, but he teleports around the field the whole time so not only do you have to avoid those orbs, but you also need to get close to him. He also slowly dashes around the arena but this attack is very easy to avoid while handing in an attack or two. Dashes can be done through the air as well, but with surrounding orbs this time that act like a boomerang after he teleports again. Finally he can slam the floor causing shockwaves, so you have to avoid both him and the shockwaves. Later on he uses a fun variant to this attack where he fakes out the attack and attempts to slam the floor where you currently are, trying to avoid the initial slam. Do enough damage to him and he’s defeated.. or is he? In a twist when you’re attempting to grab the reward for defeating him, he re-appears again and slams the floor, causing the both of you to fall to the arena down below. There is not much to this phase as he is severely weaker, but I admire the surprise regardless. For defeating him you gain the magic to break through fragile floors, giving you yet another way to revisit previous areas for hidden goodies. This boss also has a Dream variant which is an optional fight for Essence, where he is much tougher. His second phase is completely different as well, so if you thought the original Soul Master was too easy, be sure to check this one out!
Hornet is one of the most appearing side-characters, and the protector of Hallownest’s ruins. She is the daughter of the Pale King and the Dreamer Herrah, the beings used to seal The Radiance. Hornet appears quite a lot throughout the story and is a key character for her role in getting the True Ending. She first appears in the Greenpath as a boss, hostile against you because she knows your true nature. Her weapon is a needle attached to a string, which she is very skilled with. Because she is an early-game boss, you don’t have too many dodging abilities yet like the dash and double jump. Many people struggle at this boss because for only the second story-wise boss, she is probably the biggest challenge so far. You’ll have to be very careful when attacking and dodging her attacks and heal when she’s stunned. That said however, if you learn Hornet’s pattern she isn’t that bad. She has two lunges where she charges at you with her needle, one on the ground and one in the air. Since there is no follow-up attack, if you just dodge this attack you’re safe till the next one. She can also throw the needle but like the lunge, it can be avoided by just jumping. But since it is on a thread, it will return back after launched so you’ll have to avoid it again. This attack is one of the easier ones to get in some hits because she will remain completely still during the animation. Both the lunge and needle throw also have a limited range so if timed correctly, you can heal in between the attacks. Her final attack is one of the more unpredictable ones where she creates an Area of Effect storm around her. If you’re not expecting it, it will hurt. But like the other two attacks, if you stay away from her it does.. absolutely nothing. She returns later in the game yet again as a boss, not on hostile terms this time. But because I was far more powerful, I didn’t feel that battle was too difficult even with the added attacks. Beating Hornet for the first time also grants you the Dash ability, which is one of, if not the most satisfying ability in the game because it makes the Knight a lot more versatile. What I like most about Hornet is the illusion of difficulty: I have heard from a lot of people that Hornet gave them a lot of problems, yet if you take your time to learn the attacks she isn’t that hard at all. But most of all, Hornet is a fun boss and I will remember her for that.