After a stay in Steam Early Access, Metroidvania platformer Lone Fungus has officially launched, and to glowing comparisons to genre standouts like Hollow Knight and Celeste.
This little indie, which was developed solo over at Basti Games, caught my eye for a few reasons. It's pitched as "a handcrafted open-world platformer set in a world built by mushrooms," and that sounds like an adorable take on one of my favorite genres. And while it's not overflowing with reviews – though 94% of them are positive, which is a good sign – a lot of reviewers have mentioned Hollow Knight and Celeste specifically, and after digging into the game a bit more, I'm starting to see why.
"If Celeste and Hollow Knight had a child together it would be Lone Fungus," writes Steam user Buzzo. "This game feels like a hybrid of Hollow Knight and Celeste," says mstegosaurus. "Really promising Celeste - Hollow Knight - Metroidvania," says Magic. "It's kinda like Hollow Knight and Celeste mixed together," agrees holdenjerm. I think catWithAcap summed it up well when they said: "Celeste + Hollow Knight = Win." You get the point.
It turns out players aren't the only ones drawing these comparisons. The game's very own Steam page reads: "In addition to Emblems, there are Relics that work very similarly to the Charm system in Hollow Knight." It also mentions "unique and challenging platforming gameplay reminiscent of modern platformers such as Celeste but set in a fully open world."
Lone Fungus certainly does seem to echo Hollow Knight's massive organic world, equippable Relics, and oddly cute protagonist. Our mushroom hero's four-directional slash attacks, especially their bouncing downward slash, also seem mighty familiar, in a good way. That said, Lone Fungus' parry and magic systems sound a bit broader than Hollow Knight's combat, and I'm getting an almost Mega Man vibe from its many equippable mushroom caps, which are a cool and thematic way to do power-ups.
The Celeste DNA that reviewers have described looks to be more about Lone Fungus' responsive and demanding platforming, which is a type of gameplay that Hollow Knight really only broke out in brief but intense bursts a la the Path of Pain. There seems to be a lot more of that platforming here, and as the dev explained, much of it is tied to challenge zones reminiscent of Celeste's most vicious levels, right down to some zipline and rebound mechanics. Regardless of how mandatory these sections are, the fact that Lone Fungus even has the movement systems to support this kind of design is pretty impressive for such a sprawling game.
All of this is to say that Lone Fungus looks extremely promising and extremely my jam, especially with such positive early reviews. It'll be 20% off on Steam through April 14 if you're looking to jump in soon.
Here's another surprising combo: a "Hollow Knight meets Kirby" Metroidvania you can try right now.