Ari Gibson and William Pellen, creators of Silksong, are keeping many details of their new game under wraps, but as development progresses, new information has emerged. Gibson and Pellen sat down with Edge magazine to discuss their new game and the world it’s set in, Pharloom.
Silksong will follow Hornet, the sometimes-antagonist of the duo’s first breakout hit, Hollow Knight. Hornet differs from the Knight in Hollow Knight. She’s taller, more agile, uses a different weapon, and has a different sort of journey ahead of her.
Team Cherry originally intended Silksong to be DLC for Hollow Knight, but as they began working on Hornet’s adventure, Gibson and Pellen realized that they had an entirely new story to tell about Pharloom. The February 2021 issue of Edge has provided fans with even more information about Pharloom, Hornet, and what players can expect from Team Cherry’s new adventure. While Gibson and Pellen kept some information to themselves during the interview, they have still revealed more than ever before.
Pharloom has verticality
Since Hornet moves and fights very differently from the Knight, Gibson and Pellen explained in their Edge interview that the world of Pharloom changed in development to better fit Hornet’s character, not the other way around. Gibson explained, "Hornet can travel so much faster, she can jump higher, she can mantle or clamber onto ledges, she’s generally more acrobatic … so the caves around her have to expand to accommodate her height." The duo described the world of Hallownest as somewhat compact and claustrophobic, fitting to the Knight’s small frame. Pharloom, however, is build specifically for Hornet and is especially more vertical, as a result.
The main premise of the game, to help Hornet reach the Citadel, provides for a vertical experience. Though Hornet moves up continuously through the world, Pellen confirmed that players would have more adventure awaiting them once they reach the top of the Citadel in Pharloom. As soon as Pellen started to broach the topic of what lies after the Citadel, Gibson quickly asked him to stop revealing secrets.
In other words, Hornet’s adventure definitely extends beyond her climb to the Citadel, but fans have to wait to figure out what comes later.
Pharloom mirrors Hornet
Gibson described the world of Pharloom as a "reflection of Hornet," and detailed the world’s adjustments to Hornet’s different playstyle. Because Hornet is more of a physical fighter, "the world is more physical," Gibson said. Where Hollow Knight emphasized magic, Silksong will host more tangible traps and dangers, creating a more visceral world for Hornet to traverse.
Just as the world acts as a reflection of Hornet, enemies reflect her combat skill as well. Pellen told Edge, "it doesn’t feel quite right for [enemies] to be that simple. Like, they have to have surprising ways of chasing you, keeping up with you, or evading your attacks." Hornet will meet a host of creepy, cute, and dangerous foes in Silksong, and needless to say that the residents of Pharloom aren’t all pleased to meet her.
Enemies will be smarter, and will respond to both the physicality of the world and Hornet herself. That means less magic and more weapons in Pharloom, which may create a more grounded atmosphere for Silksong as a whole.
Pharloom influences Hornet’s abilities
Because Pharloom is a world of silk and song, touches of those two elements litter the setting. Pharloom is the destination of pilgrims who bring bundles of silk as tribute, and some doorways can be opened by offering a song. It’s not always the case that the world of a game so closely fits its theme, but Silksong takes things a step further by integrating elements of the world into Hornet’s abilities.
Hornet can incorporate elements of Pharloom into her fighting style, upgrading her arsenal with the world around her. Gibson explained in the Edge interview, "Part of the fun of her toolset, particularly her offensive toolset, is that Hornet can develop new tools based on the stuff she encounters in the world."
Hornet will adapt certain moves or tools to her own liking, adding flourishes of red ribbon or adjusting the move to her capabilities. This new system of weapon development allows players to see Hornet’s connection to Pharloom in real time, bringing the protagonist and world together in one narrative experience.
Pharloom has strange inhabitants
Of course, Hornet isn’t venturing through Pharloom on her own. Of Hornet, Pellen said, "She’s able to express her aims and intentions and stuff." While Hornet’s ability to express herself factors into players’ relationship to the protagonist, it also impacts Hornet’s relationships with other residents of Pharloom.
Hornet will be able to complete tasks for residents and pilgrims in Pharloom, who may grant her new abilities or treasures in return. Pellen explained, "You’re still encountering people in unexpected places, and then there are also these tasks that characters–or Hornet herself–will lay out for the player." While Silksong will have a main questline, Pellen and Gibson promise that Hornet will have a variety of optional side quests she can complete to earn the trust of people in Pharloom.
Amongst the characters Hornet will meet are Shakra, who explains a basic mechanic of the game, Sherma, a pilgrim, and the Weavers, a group of spiders who help Hornet improve her Silk skills. Though they didn’t offer much information about any side characters, Gibson and Pellen revealed that the world of Pharloom will feel populated with a variety of inhabitants meant to help or hinder Hornet on her journey.
Pharloom is more interactive
Hollow Knight‘s Hallownest felt expansive and varied, but Pharloom ultimately promises to be more interactive. To demonstrate Silksong’s attention to detail, Pellen demonstrated how Hornet can pick up objects in the world with her needle and bounce them around. While moving towards Pharloom’s cartographer, who leaves a trail of rings behind them, Pellen stopped to play with the rings.
Pellen said, "That is, like, one of the best things in the game … you can probably tell, but a lot of the big game stuff that we make is really just an excuse to do stuff like this–like, make nice little details." Pellen and Gibson promised that Pharloom would have more interactive details than Hallownest. These small bits of ambiance allow players to feel more immersed in the world, interacting with things the way they might in real life.
Silksong is a different game than Hollow Knight, but it’s clear that Team Cherry has taken what the team learned from the first game and implemented it expertly in the second. Fans who have waited years for this sequel have a lot to look forward to when Silksong finally launches.