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These Are The Hardest Bosses In Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight was one of the best games of 2017, though it took some folks longer to find the hidden gem. Fans compared Hollow Knight to another famous franchise, Dark Souls, both in terms of death mechanics and difficulty, and it's true that Hollow Knight can be just as brutal as the punishing FromSoftware series. With Hollow Knight's sequel, Silksong, on the horizon, it's worth taking a look back at what exactly made Hollow Knight so difficult.


Hollow Knight features beautiful hand-drawn artwork, an expansive map, and an adorable protagonist. While the game looks cute on the surface, it hides a number of punishing bosses. Players don't have to face every boss in the game, unless they're aiming for 100% completion, so it's possible to avoid some of these wicked foes. For those that want to prove their worth, however, these are the most challenging bosses in Hollow Knight.

The Radiance guards the end of Hollow Knight

It stands to reason that the Radiance, the final boss of Hollow Knight, would be a challenge. The Radiance is actually a secret boss. If you obtain the Void Heart and use the Dream Nail on the Hollow Knight, the Radiance appears to take on the protagonist in battle.


One generous fan on Steam created a guide to help others defeat the Radiance. Those wishing to overcome the quick, bright boss will need to strategically equip certain charms and acquire a specific spell to get a hit in, according to guide writer Shellnew. Shellnew recommended getting the Abyss Shriek, a spell that sends a wave of Soul radiating out from the Knight, hurting any enemies nearby. Without this spell, the Radiance rarely gives players a chance to trade blows. Each time the Radiance successfully strikes the player (which happens a lot), it deals two entire masks of damage.

The Radiance proves difficult because it's fast and lands hits in bursts of four before taking a short breather. Because the Radiance is the true final boss of Hollow Knight, its difficulty can be rewarding for players that want to uncover every secret of the game.


The Collector laughs his way to dominance

The Collector remains one of the most difficult boss battles in Hollow Knight, but also one of the creepiest. Throughout the game, the Knight finds grubs encased in glass bottles, but the mystery of who put the grubs in tiny prisons stays unsolved until you meet the Collector. This spindly villain captures bugs all across Hallownest and entombs them in glass; the captives aren't just for show, however. He uses them in battle to distract the Knight. Oh, and he does all of this while laughing maniacally.


One player vented their frustration with the Collector, writing, "I have never been that pissed when playing this game." Players have favorite strategies for defeating the Collector, but that doesn't mean the fight is easy. One player stated that it's important to kill the Collector's jarred friends before taking on the Collector himself. Another player suggested avoiding close combat altogether by using ranged spell attacks.

On Radiant difficulty, the Collector becomes even more intense, hopping and dropping jars at an increased rate. Some skilled players have managed to defeat him, but he's still one of Hollow Knight's most challenging encounters.

The Failed Champion doesn't fail that often

The Failed Champion looks cute in its true form with its chubby cheeks and plump lips, but it hides a dark secret. It's actually one of the hardest bosses in the game. 

The Failed Champion is a Dream version of the False Knight, a boss that appears relatively early in Hollow Knight. After defeating the False Knight, players can return to his original location and find that his body has been moved by someone or something. A hidden room above the area reveals a group of maggots mourning their fallen brother. Players can then interact with the body to enter the Dream battle.


The Dream version of the False Knight, the Failed Champion, has a similar moveset, but is much faster. One player noted that overcoming the Failed Champion in a Pantheon battle brings a hidden blessing: players that defeat the Failed Champion can emerge with a full health and Soul bar.

Regardless of how players choose to tackle the Failed Champion, he's a challenge, though not impossible to defeat.

Nightmare King Grimm leads the troupe

Nightmare King Grimm is another optional boss — the true final boss of the Grimm Troupe storyline — and he's arguably the most difficult fight in all of Hollow Knight. 

The Grimm Troupe is an expansion of Hollow Knight that released for free a few months after the base game. The expansion follows the Knight's adventures with the Grimm Troupe, a travelling circus with mystical abilities that can upgrade gear and make the Knight even more powerful. However, at the end of all the upgrades and fun, Nightmare King Grimm awaits.


Posts discussing Nightmare King Grimm's difficulty aren't uncommon on sites like Reddit, and one fan even pleaded for comfort or hope that the fight was beatable. This Dream version of King Grimm is faster than the original, and packs in more damage with each blow. Memorization is key to defeating this foe and taking one more step towards beating all of the bosses in Hollow Knight.

Only time will tell if Silksong provides even more challenging experiences than Hollow Knight. If Team Cherry's addition of the Grimm Troupe is any indication, things only get harder when the devs have more time to cook up bosses.