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Mina the Hollower Preview: An Excellent Mix of Castlevania and Link’s Awakening

Mina the Hollower is a wonderful combination of Castlevania and Link's Awakening from Yacht Club Games, the team behind Shovel Knight.

While attending PAX West 2023 earlier this month, I had the chance to play something I am pretty excited about. Yacht Club Games’ next project, Mina the Hollower, was available to play at PAX with a pair of demos. I decided to split my time evenly between both, dedicating 30 minutes to each one. After my experience, I came away even more pumped for the Shovel Knight developer’s game to launch.

Nailing the Basics of Mina the Hollower at PAX

I started my time with Mina playing the Crypt Demo, which was also shown off during PAX East 2023. Right off the bat, you are presented with three main weapon options. There is the Nightstar, a mace attached to a chain that is the most well-rounded of the trio. Next is the Blaststrike Maul, a heavy-hitting hammer that can be charged to land attacks with devastating force. Lastly, there are the Whisper and Vesper, nimble daggers that can be charged up and thrown, but must be retrieved after use.

I ended up picking the Nightstar because I love Castlevania so much and it reminded me of the Vampire Killer. And just like Castlevania, there are cool sidearms you can uncover. These include the electrifying Volt Hatchet and the Buckler Driver, which knocks back enemies into the abyss!

Mina the Hollower is a wonderful combination of Castlevania and Link's Awakening from Yacht Club Games, the team behind Shovel Knight.

It is immediately apparent Mina the Hollower takes heavy inspiration from the Game Boy Color title, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX. Everything from the perspective to the colors to the puzzles pays homage to one of Link’s most memorable adventures. You start getting a feel for the game right away, too. You get acclimated to the speed with which you draw and use your weapon. Also, there is a great mechanic for jumping and diving. You can jump in the air and burrow underground with Mina for a short period before popping back up again. It’s excellent for invincibility frames, picking up rocks, going under obstacles, and tricky jumps.

A Desire to Uncover Everything

Exploration in Mina is a lot of fun. There are obvious cracks in the walls you can bust open that have hidden goodies, which are perfect for the gamer who must explore every nook and cranny. There is also a precious resource you obtain for defeating enemies and opening chests: Bones. These Bones can be used to upgrade your attributes or turn into currency in the form of Bonesaw Dust. Dying has you losing Bones, but you can pick them back up again if you return to where you fell, similar to Dark Souls. Additionally, there are save points you can uncover through burrowing that heal you, and there are Trinkets you can equip at these points that give you buffs, like increasing your burrow time or defense.

Cruising Along a Beach of Bones With a Smile

The new area from Mina the Hollower shown off during PAX West 2023 was Bone Beach. This area was a bit tougher than the Crypt, with baddies that took a couple of hits before going down. There were a good amount of traps and platforming sections, as well. A fair bit of gross, creepy stuff was on offer, too: At one point, I had to enter a giant head from a sea creature that was a dungeon in and of itself. And there was a rather innocuous-looking enemy that turned into a terrifying creature, causing me to yell in surprise.

Mina the Hollower is a wonderful combination of Castlevania and Link's Awakening from Yacht Club Games, the team behind Shovel Knight.

It was at this point of my preview that I started to appreciate the little things about Mina the Hollower. She does this little fist pump whenever she gets a sidearm, and she tightens her gloves before she goes up and down the ropes.

The Bone system, abundance of shortcuts, and vials you use to regain health all remind me of Bloodborne. The health system has a great risk/reward attribute: If you lose health, you can regain a portion of it by attacking foes, but you still need to use a vial to fill it. If you get hit again, you lose whatever you were building towards. It’s a brilliant system that has you strategizing when to use a vial to get back some life or when to run and find a checkpoint. Add in the fact the title is inspired by Gothic Horror like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I can’t help but be enamored with the whole package. The Zelda-like dungeons and Castlevania-like weapons don’t hurt, either.

The Waiting Game

Unfortunately, Mina the Hollower is still deep in development, with no release date announced. The game is only confirmed for Steam at the moment, but the team hopes it will get the Shovel Knight treatment, meaning it will hopefully come to every current console, as well. Purists will be happy to know a physical release is coming through Fangamer, along with the digital version. Rest assured, with its excellent, brisk gameplay, awesome setting, and moody music, Mina the Hollower is definitely a game you want to have on your radar.

About the author

Arthur Damian
Arthur Damian has been covering the video game industry for over ten years, and joined The Escapist in 2022. He is a huge fan of platformers, indies, and fighting games, and strives to cover them for The Escapist every chance he gets. Arthur received his Bachelor’s Degree in English from Brooklyn College in 2009. He is also the Editor-in-Chief over at That VideoGame Blog. When he isn’t writing, Arthur enjoys playing games on his Switch and PlayStation 5, and sings the praises of the greatest video game ever, Chrono Trigger, to anyone who will listen.