2. Mantis Lords
Imagine yourself being a young, little knight. You enter a hidden village full of mantises, enemies of the Hallownest bugs and a strong civilization who outlived the Infection. After obtaining the other most satisfying ability, the wall climbing Mantis Claw, you make your way through platforming challenges and multiple strong mantises to reach the bottom of the village. You enter a big, open arena, and there they are sitting at the throne. They won’t attack you themselves, but will gladly accept your challenge if you wish so. They are none other that the Mantis Lords, three sisters who are the leaders of the mantis tribe. There were originally four thrones with the Traitor Lord being the final lord, but as his name implies he gave in to the Infection. He also is a boss fought later in the game but I didn’t enjoy fighting him enough to be in the top 5. Once you initiate the fight, the battle arena becomes a small cage with spikes on the sides, and the first of the sisters will start round one. They are most known for their agile movements, as they can even use the cages to hang on. Other attacks include a dash and drop, attacks we’re quite familiar with now. Finally, she can throw her blade downwards in a boomerang formation, but it comes in two different patterns depending on where she is. Put her down and that’s when the real fight starts. The remaining two sisters will enter the battlefield together, with the same attacks but far more frequent, and the boomerang attack also has other different patterns now. Fighting against two bosses at the same time makes it significantly harder, and you can’t really focus on one of the two since they hard no visual differences. In the Godmaster content pack you can even fight all three of them at once! I came across this battle pretty early on and challenged them despite the warnings and actually managed to get pretty far into the fight, but I decided to come back later since it was obviously not a boss to be taken lightly. That was made even more clear when you gain the respect of the Mantis Lords and they’ll allow passage to the Deepnest which.. isn’t the most fun area of the game to say the least. The mantises all respect you now however, so they will stop attacking you and grant you access to their village. I had a lot of fun with this battle, and it felt really good when I’ve finally beaten them.
1. Nightmare King Grimm
This spot actually goes to two bosses but they’re pretty much the same: Grimm and Nightmare King. The Grimm Troupe was an addition to the game with the content pack under the same name. After summoning them in a small cave on the Howling Cliffs, they set up their circus tents next to Dirtmouth. There is a tent which can make fragile charms into permanent ones, but the main attraction here is the leader Grimm. He gives you a charm and asks you to collect flames scattered all throughout Hallownest. At first it seems like an innocent sidequest, but it is revealed to be all part of a sinister ritual. After collecting six flames, Grimm will have a fake out battle with you to appease the audience, though it still is a full-blown boss battle. He has many different attacks including fire bats from under his cloak cough Dracula rip-off cough. The dash from the air is a familiar one at this point, but after landing he’ll charge at you yet again trying to hit you. He can also dash from the ground, ending with an uppercut and five fireballs raining down when finished. His cloak is also used to spawn long spikes from the floor with gaps in-between them. Finally he does a guaranteed attack that happens every time his health is lowered by 25%, where he is invincible and spawns small fireballs from the middle which have to be avoided. I wouldn’t call it bullet hell but that might give you an idea about how the attack works. It’s a tough battle overall with a lot of avoiding, few chances to hit and almost no time to heal unless you have healing-based Charms. And Nightmare King.. well, let’s just say that battle is Grimm on absolute steroids. He is by many called the strongest boss battle in the entire game and for good reason. Yet, his challenge is fair and all attacks are avoidable.. it’s just really tough. That, or I need to git gud. There isn’t necessarily a great reward for beating him except for bragging rights and a Charm that’s situational, but it ultimately feels very satisfying to fight this boss. I had a lot of fun beating Grimm because of his relatively unique attacks and being a hard but fair challenge. Grimm is without a doubt my favourite boss battle of Hollow Knight.
And there you have it, my Top 5 Favourite Hollow Knight Boss Battles! This list wasn’t too difficult for me as at least the first two placements were very clear to me before I even started working on this list, and the other three were high up as well. Honourable mentions would go to some of the Dream Warriors (particularly Galien and Markoth) as well as the Dung/White Defender and the Failed Knight. They were all good battles in their own right, just not enough to make my list. Would they have made your list? Or do you agree with my placings perhaps? I mean, that’s totally understandable since my opinions are close to fact tbh. But real talk, let me know down below or somewhere else as I am interested!