Ranking the Bosses of Hollow Knight by Difficulty

46. Massive Moss Charger

Although the Massive Moss Charger isn’t the first boss you will encounter and probably not even the second, he is definitely the easiest of the early game bosses.

Hopefully by this point in the game you have learned how to jump because all this pile of leaves can really do is run at you.

Overall Difficulty: .25 out of 10

45. Gruz Mother

The Gruz Mother will more than likely be the first boss you come across and the encounter can catch you off guard if you are just learning the ropes.

Anyone with decent object tracking skills and a general knowledge of platformers should get out of this one unscathed.

Overall Difficulty: .5 out of 10

44. Vengefly King

Swoop down, spit stuff at you, repeat. This boss is kind of there to teach you what “tells” are and how to avoid incoming damage. If you are learning that in this game, you are going to have a bad time. A really bad time.

Even without paying attention to him all that much you can defeat him by being mildly aware of your health. Save Zote from his clutches so he can live to fight (you) another day.

Overall Difficulty: .5 out of 10

43. False Knight

This was the first boss that I actually died to in the game. It was only once mind you, but he did get me. The slam attacks threw me for a loop the first time but it was actually the falling meteors near the end of his “attack phase” that got me.

Once I realized that you could strike them with your nail to deal tons of damage to him, the fight was all but won. The atmosphere and lead up to the fight is really good, but sadly the boss ultimately does not live up to it.

Overall Difficulty: 1 out of 10

42. Broken Vessel

The Broken Vessel actually gave me a bit of trouble two or three times but only because up until this point fights were all about quick dodges and making time and space to heal.

This fight is a bit different and as soon as you catch on he becomes pretty easy. The trick is to make small. slight movements during his “spewing” stage because dodging frantically is almost guaranteed to get you hit at least once.

The other tip I can give is to do your best not to heal at all. Carry as many masks as you can into the fight because although his attacks are easily avoided, he doesn’t really let up that much.

Overall Difficulty: 2 out of 10

41. Marmu

He bounces around like ball. Stand in one spot and whack him.

You need a decent amount of timing with your nail strikes and about a minute’s worth of actual time to beat the easiest of the dream nail bosses.

Overall Difficulty: 2.75 out of 10

40. Flukemarm

This is the very definition of an annoying boss fight. Flukemarm is the only boss in the game that can’t move and literally does nothing but spawn enemies in his (her?) arena the entire time. The enemies he spawns are some of the most annoying in the game at that.

The safest method is to kill each enemy that flies at you and build up essence then release a Shade Soul spell and repeat. Honestly even if you just keep wailing on the boss while paying moderate attention to the position of the mobs you should be fine.

Overall Difficulty: 3.5 out of 10

39. Soul Warrior

This guy could really be defined as a tough enemy rather than a boss as the encounter is over fairly quickly, but he does serve as a good warmup for when you face his master later on.

It is a short but fun fight that shouldn’t be too hard if you have reached this point efficiently.

Overall Difficulty: 4.5 out of 10

38. Hornet (First Encounter)

This is the first boss of the game that killed me more than one time and really forced me to watch closely and distinguish her moves from one another.

Some of her windups are quite similar to one another which can lead to small mistakes when looking for a time to heal. Even if you fail a couple times here, just fighting the boss a handful of times should start to show her patterns and make the fight easier each time.

Overall Difficulty: 4.75 out of 10

37. Crystal Guardian

Dodge the lasers. Whack him twice. Find a safe spot to heal if you need to. (The far right side of the arena works 90% of the time.) Repeat.

I know this isn’t an article intended to be a guide, but not much else can really be said for this one-dimensional boss.

Overall Difficulty: 5 out of 10

36. Gorb

A training course in the art of dodging and pattern recognition, both of which are key to defeating some of the hardest bosses of this game.

He would feel like a precursor to Radiance’s moveset if it weren’t for the fact that this DLC came out after the main game was released.

Overall Difficulty: 5 out of 10

35. Oblobble

The only real reason why this guy (or guys in the arena) is t6his high on the list is because he is more or less a test of your spacial awareness and ability to dodge, which can be the most difficult part of platforms for some players.

Trying to use essence attacks on this guy as much as possible is probably a better bet than sticking to his side as you never know what pattern his projectiles will be fired in.

Overall Difficulty: 5.5 out of 10

34. Soul Master

For those of you who are in the middle of this game right now and are thinking to yourself “I wonder where Soul Master is in terms of difficulty ’cause he was really hard to beat!”, well, here he is.

After I beat this guy I almost assumed that it couldn’t really get much harder than that and be a fair fight but man was I wrong! On my second playthrough I absolutely butchered this guy on the first attempt even after I had forgotten about his second phase and everything!

The reason for that is simple- this game is really hard for non-platformer addicts like myself and it gets even harder after this guy.

Stay on your toes and the student will become the master!

Overall Difficulty: 5.75 out of 10

33. Xero

I really enjoyed the aesthetic of this boss and I do believe that he would be more difficult if it weren’t for the fact that you can hide below his arena and fully heal up anytime you like.

If that was an oversight on Team Cherry’s part than I surely do appreciate it!

Overall Difficulty: 5.75 out of 10

32. Nosk

The events leading up to encounter with Nosk are some of the creepiest yet captivating that I have ever experienced in games without dialogue. The visual design of this boss is also, once agin, very hideous and yet inspired.

That being said, this boss doesn’t really end up meeting those lofty standards in terms of difficulty as he can be cheesed pretty hard using the environment in his arena against him. The only reason he is even this high on the list is due to the off-putting nature of your first battle with him.

Kudos to you if you were able to fell him in one go!

Overall Difficulty: 5.75 out of 10

31. Elder Hu

There are really only a handful of boss types in this game ( which isn’t necessarily a complaint) and Elder Hu would definitely fall under the “you just have to memorize everything” category.

Timing your dodges out of the way during the attack where the projectiles close in on you is key. He stands at above about a third of his peers solely on the account that you have to memorize each attack to survive, making your first attempt incredibly difficult if you go in blind.

Overall Difficulty: 6 out of 10

30. Uumuu

Uumuu is essentially the “Bed of Chaos” of Hollow Knight (apologies to all reading who have yet to play the wonderful game that is Dark Souls). It is hard for all the wrong reasons, dreaded on each playthrough, and has a stupid name.

Without spoiling anything, your path to this boss is occasionally met with my personal favorite NPC in the game (besides Hornet of course). This makes it all the more frustrating and daunting when you literally have to sit around and wait on him to attack so you can continue the fight.

It is a test of annoying levels of patience and endurance, neither of which I am particularly adept in.

Overall Difficulty: 6.25 out of 10

29. Hollow Knight

That’s right. You are reading this correctly. One of the two final bosses of the main game and the game’s own namesake is listed here just under halfway through the difficulty ranking.

He is intimidating to be sure and he is also built up throughout most of the game through lore and what you can piece together about him, but he really isn’t all that hard.

His moves do a lot of damage but almost all of them are highly telegraphed and even when he moves into a sort-of phase two not much really changes other than a slight speed boost. I died to him only one time in my first playthrough and have never even come close to dying to hime since.

Fun boss to fight but not that hard to beat.

Overall Difficulty: 6.5 out of 10

28. Mantis Lords

Here is where things really begin to pick up in terms of the speed of the bosses and the damage they dish out. Fewer mistakes are allowed going forward and there are also fewer windows for attack. These locust ladies are a prime example.

The battle begins with one of them coming down to face you, performing various teleporting dashes and occasional downward strikes while also stopping periodically to throw her scythe. After she resigns the battle the other two will come down and fight you together following the same regiment of attacks.

Stay vigilant and these amazing bosses will bow to your nail eventually!

Overall Difficulty: 6.75 out of 10

27. Dung Defender

Forgoing the cringe-inducing name and method of combat this particular boss has, he is also a fairly fun boss to take on yet a significant jump in difficulty up to this point in the game as well.

He has possibly the greatest variety of moves amongst the Hollow Knight bosses which helps to contribute to his difficulty, especially if you just happened to wander into his section of the map early without some key upgrades.

He is simultaneously valorant and vaudeville and is one of the more memorable bosses of the game for better or worse.

Overall Difficulty: 6.75 out of 10

26. Brooding Mawlek

This might be only my own personal experience talking here because I know a few other players who have completed Hollow Knight and none of them seemed to have as tough of a time with the Brooding Mawlek as I did. Hopefully your experience will be the same as theirs.

I had a really hard time finding safe zones during AOE (Area of EFFECT) attacks and avoiding her outward strikes when you get close almost guaranteed a health trade every time I damaged her.

There are a few environment places that you can you to cheese her like Nosk, but going toe to toe was pretty tough to overcome.

Overall Difficulty: 6.75 out of 10

25. Enraged Guardian

Like the Crystal Guardian but madder, faster, more laser attacks, and more damage.

If you overcame Crystal Guardian then you can take this guy down too, just maybe not quite as quickly.

Overall Difficulty: 7 out of 10

24. No Eyes

Part of the difficulty of this fight is in the creepy factor of both the music and the “voice” that you seem to hear throughout the fight.

Avoiding the floating ghost apparitions isn’t too difficult in the beginning but obviously gets much more challenging as the fight goes on.

Overall Difficulty: 7 out of 10

23. Winged Nose

Take one of the more annoying fights in the game and give him wings. Do you know what you have? A more annoying and more difficult fight that just might be the worst re-skin of a boss I have ever seen.

Every death to this guy feels cheap, which is definitely not an inspiring feeling to keep someone playing your game.

Overall Difficulty: 7 out of 10

22. Galien

I honestly couldn’t ever really quite put my finger on why this guy felt so special to me but he did.

It might be that the crack across his entire body indicates that he was stepped on and squished by something bigger or whether his fight seems so fine-tuned and perfect for my play-style but I loved this boss.

Dodging his spinning scythe as it moved faster and faster never felt cheap but created a sense of urgency and excitement that was coupled with adequate time to actually consider what to do next even on the first attempt.

Great boss but definitely not the hardest.

Overall Difficulty: 7.25 out of 10

21. Nailmasters Oro and Mato

You might notice that the next several bosses are either tied in their difficulty ranking or very similar to each other and that is because they were really hard to distinguish.

This game crosses a line for me with most of the bosses left on this list where I had to go into hyper-focus mode to even have a chance against them. (Because again, I am not normally overly fond of or great at platformers.)

These guys took quite a while for me to defeat because each fighter is a well-rounded boss in terms of offensive and defensive abilities. The real issue was that there was two of them and I have a hard enough time paying attention to one!

Overall Difficulty: 7.25 out of 10

20. The Collector

The difficulty of this boss highly depends upon either your natural ability with the enemies in the game up to this point or your knowledge of most enemy types and their weaknesses.

If you haven’t been storing that information in your brain then you may have a tough time with him as you essentially must outlast wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies. Hitting him as often and as accurately as you can will end the fight a few rounds early, sparing you from some of the harder enemy types he has at his disposal.

Overall Difficulty: 7.25 out of 10

19. God Tamer

All by himself this boss and his pet probably wouldn’t be too difficult but the fact that he comes after a gauntlet that can take the average player half an hour puts a lot of pressure on you that isn’t there with most bosses on this list.

Unless you play flawlessly in the aforementioned arena battles you will probably head into this fight with little essence or possibly little health, adding to the nervousness and anxiety.

Deep breaths though because he isn’t all that hard to deal with if you stay calm and patient.

Overall Difficulty: 7.5 out of 10

18. Hive Knight

I have seen this guy a little lower on a lot of ranking lists that I have read myself and I really don’t understand it. One of the reasons why I struggled was I had taken a break from the game after finishing it and returned a few months later when this DLC had been made for it.

Even setting all that aside, the Hive Knight is pretty difficult in my book.

He is incredibly fast, loves to mix up patterns in his attacks, and leaves nearly impossible windows of opportunity for healing. I had a really hard time with this boss on my first playthrough and even though I found him easier on my second one, he still had my respect going forward.

Overall Difficulty: 7.75 out of 10

17. Grimm

Once again you are reading that correctly. We are only at number sixteen on our list and already looking at bosses that I consider to be an eight out of ten or above in terms of difficulty.

This game has many fine-tuned yet difficult to truly master boss fights that I believe start right here with Grimm. Anyone who has beaten Hollow Knight and its DLC packs will know that the harder incarnation of Grimm is much higher on this list, but that doesn’t mean Grimm is a slacker.

Grimm is a well-rounded, difficult boss and a truly entertaining one that will make you very glad that your nearest bench is literally as near as it can be.

Overall Difficulty: 8 out of 10

16. White Defender

Be careful with your boss naming there Team Cherry! obviously I am kidding but especially when it comes to a re-skin of a boss based around dung.

Just like all the other dream bosses this guy is a faster and stronger version of his original self, but in the White Defenders case they actually tied his appearance to some lore, which I really enjoyed.

His white armor is supposed to represent what he looked and acted like before banishing himself to the sewers out of shame for being defeated in combat.

Overall Difficulty: 8 out of 10

15. Lost Kin

Obviously each dream version of the handful of bosses that can be dream-nailed are going to be harder, but this guy has to have the biggest jump in terms of difficulty.

He literally becomes a new boss as he is now able to summon flying minions to home in on you and distract you. The temptation is to dodge them entirely and focus on the boss but in this case you should absolutely take each one out before they fill up your screen!

I know that he is technically family but I told him to get lost just the same.

Overall Difficulty: 8 out of 10

14. Markoth

This guy isn’t as difficult as he could have been because the patterns of his attacks Strat to become very easy to recognize and avoid even on your first go.

If you can simultaneously keep on eye on the revolving shield and his projectiles you should be all set.

Overall Difficulty: 8 out of 10

13. Hornet (Second Encounter)

This was the first point in the game where I got stuck. I had fallen to bosses before Hornet obviously, but for whatever reason the second fight with Hornet really took me to task.

She leaves behind traps as the fight goes on that if you do not stop and deal with become extremely hard to avoid as the battle goes on. Focus on them as she drops each one while also keeping track of her in your peripheral vision.

This is easier said than done and quite hard to master, but once you do it will feel so good to progress into what I believe to be the key moment in the entirety of the story of Hollow Knight.

Overall Difficulty: 8.25 out of 10

12. Paintmaster Sheo

If I had not already fought some of the harder bosses on this list I would have to imagine that he would definitely have been in my top ten. He is definitely one of the more original bosses in the game and a real blast to fight against.

He only has a handful of attacks but each one hits like a truck so defense and dodging are far more important than getting in lots of strikes.

I truly love the way the arena is splattered in color when you are done to show you what attacks were done where!

Overall Difficulty: 8.5 out of 10

11. Soul Tyrant

A much tougher version of Soul Master. Not really much more to say than that.

If you have played Hollow Knight over the course of a short period of time, then your muscle memory from Soul Master should kick in and make this guy a doable task. He falls just short of being in the “hardest to beat” club.

Overall Difficulty: 8.5 out of 10

10. Watcher Knight

Here we go- the top ten! These guys have my vote for the hardest of the hard and it all starts with the Watcher Knight. Anyone who has fought these guys knows that the name is a misnomer as there are actually six of these guys if you go straight in.

There is a chandelier that you can drop above the boss fight arena which can be accessed from the elevator shaft you used to come up to the current floor. This will remove one of the Watcher Knights from the fight and give you a bit more of a fair chance.

Knowing when to relentlessly attack and when to play all out dodgeball with these guys is key to victory. A great fight that falls just short of being a nine out of ten.

Overall Difficulty: 8.75 out of 10

9. Traitor Lord

This my absolute favorite boss fight of Hollow Knight. Without spoilers the NPC story and companion available for this with is absolutely worth every second of side quest that is necessary to have her.

The fight itself is nothing short of glorious as the Traitor Lord is immediately imposing and challenging. He is difficult to get around in his arena but that is very much by design as the fight is intended to be more or less a fencing duel between you.

With the NPC fighting him as well you have a it more leeway to get in a few free hits while he is distracted or to get over/ around him to deliver strikes to his back. The lore behind this boss and the implications for the NPC I just mentioned are also heartbreaking pieces of well crafted story in an already stunningly deep game.

Say your prayers before starting this battle!

Overall Difficulty: 9 out of 10

8. Failed Champion

What a great way to start off the ability to fight some of the bosses again though the power of dreams! Team Cherry took a well-designed but easy boss and totally reimagined his moves and speed to make him more difficult without ruining what made him a cool boss to begin with!

I looked forward to this fight in my second playthrough so much that as soon as I received the Dream Nail I raced back to the first area to take him on again! A really hard but incredibly fun boss battle. Whack those meteors people!

Overall Difficulty: 9 out of 10

7. Great Nailsage Sly

This speedy little guy kind of reminded me of the Yoda fight against Count Dooku in Star Wars: Episode Two because it was the younger version of the wise old sage showing off his amazing skills.

Oh yes, and also because he is tiny, crazy fast, and bounces off the walls like a three year old after an espresso. (Please never give three year olds espresso.) If this little guy had the force I would just give up straight away.

Overall Difficulty: 9.25 out of 10

6. Grey Prince Zote

You might have noticed that I didn’t include your first fight with Zote on this list because it could hardly even be considered a boss fight when almost every base enemy in the game is more difficult.

What the first encounter lacks the second more than makes up for. His body slam attack is particularly devastating unless you can get the perfect timing right to avoid the shockwave that follows. (Tip: Use the wall to double jump up and over it whenever possible.)

Overall Difficulty: 9.25 out of 10

5. Sisters of Battle

Quick summary: Take the previous Mantis Lords fight, have all three of them fight you at once, increase their hit points, speed, and majorly increase their damage, then add a multiplier to that each time you send one back to her seat.

Tadaa! A really frustrating yet equally exhilarating experience! I hate and love this fight all at the same time!

Overall Difficulty: 9.5 out of 10

4. Radiance

If/ when you are finally able to barely eek out a victory against this guy you might think to yourself “There is no way anything is harder than that in this game!” and you would be dead wrong.

He is hard to be sure. Insanely difficult in fact. But he is possible to defeat and always feels possible to defeat.

At one point he would have been number one on my list but after fighting my top three bosses I absolutely rinsed this guy on playthrough two and wondered how I ever even struggled with him.

Overall Difficulty: 9.75 out of 10

3. Pure Vessel

If it weren’t for the fact that Radiance his the true final boss of the game I would argue that this is exactly how Hollow Knight should have been all along. But making those two fights come back to back would be insanely challenging, even for someone who is actually good at this game.

Just as with most of the top ten list here, this is a great fight that will push the limits of your ability in the game and bring immense satisfaction when you defeat the Vessel as he always should have been!

Overall Difficulty: 10 out of 10

2. Nightmare King

If you have ever fought him then you definitely understand that this boss will simply not be able to be beaten by many players. That isn’t a brag at all, it is a sad reflection of my life and how much time I am willing to dedicate to beating a virtual vampire circus bug.

Every attack is designed to drain your health in seconds if you slip up and there are essentially no real designed moments or windows for healing, but if a platforming noob like me can take him down then I suppose anything is possible.

Overall Difficulty: Existential Crisis at 2 AM out of 10

1. Absolute Radiance

There is no fighting this boss. I wouldn’t even go as far as to call it a fight in the first place. This my friends is an exercise in memorization, precision, and efficiency that took me hours to accomplish and I absolutely take pride in that statement.

Even to get to this boss requires an in-depth knowledge of every other boss and their variants so you were probably already looking for the pain and frustration that you will find here. Tight squeezes, perfect timings, and excellent Essence management are all crucial here and even then you will get hit by attacks.

One can only pray that they get lucky eventually, so good luck to you!

Overall Difficulty: NO GOD! NO. GOD. PLEASE. NO NO!! NOOOO! out of 10

Adam Rahn

From the moment I could pick up the controller of my family's Super Nintendo I have developed a deep and continuous passion for the world of gaming. From narrative-driven adventures to sprawling open worlds, my love for the medium has only grown with every new title on the horizon!

Recent Posts