I just finished my third playthrough of Hollow Knight, and I think my deep appreciation for this game and its lore gets stronger with ever replay. It’s such a well balanced game, and even though the main attack is just a simple nail swipe with some occasional spells, the combat system feels complete and yet unique with every encounter.
Each time I’ve ventured into Hollownest I’ve used a variety of different charm builds … to varying levels of success. Now that I’ve experienced each one – how would I rank all the charms in Hollow Knight?
I’m going to be ranking each charm based on how useful they are, what their longevity is (i.e. is it worth it in late-game) and their charm cost. I’ve also changed my ranking system this time around, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.
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Never Use. Ever.
42 – Carefree Melody
One of the last charms you’ll pick up in the game after banishing the Grimm Troupe, and by that point this is entirely useless.
41 – Defender’s Crest
“Hey, but what about all the gnarly combos you can make with this charm?!?”
No. Defender’s Crest is a waste of a charm notch, and when combined with other charms you can get various builds that I never found any use for.
40 – Grimmchild
It could have been quite neat to have an ally to help it battle, but Grimmchild is so useless at taking down foes that it becomes laughable.
Try To Avoid
39 – Heavy Blow
Good on paper, bad in execution.
It may seem beneficial to have a charm that knocks enemies away from you, but unfortunately that means you’ll have to venture even further and withstand multiple ranged blows if you want to get close enough again to do damage.
38 – Kingsoul
I mean, it’s kinda useful I guess?
Passively generating soul is pretty cool, but 5 charm notches?!? Add to that the fact Kingsoul turns into Void Heart almost instantly and you get an entirely forgettable charm.
37 – Sprint Master / Dash Master
Basically the same charm, except one is slightly faster than the other.
While it may come in handy in the early game to dash around quicker than usual, by the time you get super dash these become redundant.
36 – Stalwart Shell
Stalwart Shell is one of the cheapest and earliest charms you get get in the game, and that extra recovery time could come in handy to some people. I never found a use for it though, as there are a lot of other charms that were better for my playstyle.
35 – Dream Wielder
I don’t think I ever remembered to instinctively dream nail an enemy during combat, so this charm isn’t for me.
A lot of players have built charm loadouts where they can dream nail on the fly for extra soul, but I wasn’t one of those players.
34 – Weaversong
Some might find it cool to have an army of spiders to do your bidding, but I could never find the time of day for these passive type charms.
33 – Glowing Womb
Exactly the same as Weaversong, except the little fly things are actually pretty cute allies to have in battle (rather than horrific spiders crawling behind you).
32 – Joni’s Blessing / Lifeblood Heart / Lifeblood Core
This is going to be a highly subjective placement on the list, as having extra hearts could be game-changing for some players.
I always focused more on my damage output rather than my health, so all three of these health charms were barely ever equipped.
31 / 30 – Fragile Greed / Unbreakable Greed
Unless you’re doing a speedrun where you need to gather geo as fast as possible, these charms are entirely forgettable.
29 – Gathering Swarm
Another useless geo gathering charm, except it can be quite satisfying to have geo come to you out of spike pits and otherwise unobtainable places.
Fine, But Wastes Notches
28 – Steady Body
Every charm in this tier will have their uses in certain situations or against particular bosses, and “Steady Body” can actually be quite overpowered.
I quite like having that distance created between myself and the foe whenever I received damage, though, so it was a charm I personally never used.
27 – Grubberfly’s Elegy
Another pretty nifty charm that does an extra bit of damage with every attack, but you have to personally seek out and rescue all 46 grubs to obtain it. No thanks.
26 – Sharp Shadow
When I found this charm I thought it was long overdue to turn my dash into a viable weapon, but the results are a little underwhelming.
It doesn’t do much damage at all in the grand scheme of things, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a boss for it to work against.
25 – Fury of the Fallen
This charm could be godly to a certain type of gamer, but I’m not the kind of person who can calmly galivant around on 1HP without freaking out and making a costly mistake.
I always like having more than one health at a time personally, and would much rather heal up and keep going than stick at low health for one last heavy assault. It’s cool that you can get it as the very first charm in the game, but I’m not pro gamer enough to properly utilise it.
24 – Nailmaster’s Glory
Now, this is gonna be a spicy hot take that proper Hollow Knight players will laugh at – I never really used the nail arts in my playthrough. There, I said it.
That’s not to say this charm doesn’t have its supporters; if you’re not dumb-brained like me and actually remember to use the nail arts, Nailmaster’s Glory could be a lifesaver.
23 – Fragile Heart
At first the fragile charms seemed like a cool idea, but the more I played this game the more unnecessary they felt (2 of them, at least).
Some people may really need those extra few hearts for a boss fight, but is it worth the risk? It’s probably just going to break anyway, you’d be better off using the notches for something else.
22 – Grubsong
Grubsong is actually not a bad charm at all, as getting a little bit of soul every time you take damage is pretty useful in dire situations.
As the title of this tier suggests, this is a perfectly serviceable charm, but unfortunately it pales in comparison to most others.
21 – Spore Shroom
Another one of those charms that passive build players probably love far more than I do, but I’d much rather use the notches on something else.
It’s very cheap though, so it probably wouldn’t hurt just to have it equipped to complete a build.
20 – Baldur Shell
Now we get onto the charms that I found some uses for during my playthroughs, and I would recommend them to any player.
Baldur Shell could be crucial in some situations to protect yourself while healing, but after the early game is done you probably don’t need it anymore.
19 – Hiveblood
I’ve heard quite a few people slander this charm as being so useless it may even be the worst charm in the game, and I think that’s ridiculous.
Yes, it does take an unfeasibly long amount of time for the healing to take effect, but if you’re careful about it then not having to manually heal could be a gamechanger in some boss fights (and it works wonders in the Path of Pain).
18 – Shape of Unn
At first this may seem like a joke charm, but it can actually come in handy from time to time.
There are a couple of bosses that can be completely cheesed with this charm – think about Mantis Lords, as they have some attacks that you can just heal under while crawling to safety. Shape of Unn isn’t useful all the time, but when it is it’s a broken charm.
17 – Spell Twister
It may seem counterintuitive, but this charm isn’t actually as useful as it may seem. Spell Twister lets you cast spells for less soul … but is that necessary?
It’s certainly worth it if you have a couple of free charm notches, but there will rarely be a window of time where you can compound 6 or 7 spells in a row rather than 5 (for example), so you’re better off just being patient and waiting for the soul to build up again.
16 – Flukenest
On my first couple of playthroughs I would have put Flukenest all the way down in one of the “useless” tiers, but during my recent playthrough I discovered just how hilariously powerful it is.
It’s basically a disgusting shotgun modifier, and the ability to do massive damage at short range can absolutely decimate certain bosses. It does mean that the standard long-range spells are not viable anymore, however, so that’s a bit of a drawback.
15 – Soul Eater
If we’re just looking at the power of the charm, this could have even made the top 5. It gives you way more soul per hit, and it certainly makes fights easier.
Unfortunately, it’s far too expensive – 4 notches is asking a lot, regardless of the strength of the charm. It also doesn’t help Soul Eater’s case that there’s a similar charm that you can get much earlier that also does the same thing.
14 – Dream Shield
Of all the passive charms, Dream Shield is quite comfortably the best.
Having a shield rotating around the player that can also deal damage seems too good to be true, and it’s both cheap and easy to find as well.
13 – Long Nail
I always preferred nail builds to any other charm combinations, so having an extended reach for the nail is a no-brainer. There’s a similar charm that’s much better, so it can’t rank much higher than this.
12 – Deep Focus
If it wasn’t for the fact it takes so goddamn long for the charm to work, being able to heal twice in one move could have put this right at the top of the list.
You can pair it with Quick Focus to negate most of the waiting time, but you’ve already sunk far too many notches into it by that point.
11 – Void Heart
Does it do anything? No, not at all, but it lets you get the true ending to the game so I think that qualifies it for a good position on this list.
10 – Wayward Compass
Is it just a meme? Definitely. Is it a bloody useful meme? Absolutely.
Maybe I’m just terrible at reading maps, but I don’t think I ever unequipped Wayward Compass in any of my playthroughs (unless I was absolutely certain where to go, e.g. tough boss fights). While it doesn’t have the most insane effect, I couldn’t live without it.
9 – Thorns of Agony
Another one of those early charms that you’ll probably drop as you get to the late-game, but this is the only one of those charms that could probably still be useful even when fighting the final boss.
It only costs one charm slot so it fits into any build, and I get hit a lot so the ability to automatically do damage back was much appreciated.
8 – Unbreakable Heart
To be honest, you’d probably be a little bit silly to sink all of your hard earned geo into this rather than the strength charm, but once you have it it’s great.
Getting those extra hearts could mean the difference between life and death – especially in later boss fights – and the charm cost is less then some of Joni’s charms.
Use Whenever Possible
7 – Fragile Strength
Other than the fact you need to be extra careful not to die, Fragile Strength can turn a hard boss fight into a cake walk.
It’s a shame it breaks after you make a fatal mistake, but it doesn’t actually break in the dream world, so this is a super important charm for dream bosses such as Soul Tyrant.
6 – Soul Catcher
Soul Catcher isn’t quite as good as Soul Eater, but you can get it far earlier and it’s much cheaper notch-wise.
Getting that little bit of extra soul can be crucial in a lot of boss fights, and you can pretty much keep it equipped throughout your entire run.
5 – Shaman Stone
The speedrunner’s dream, Shaman Stone gives you some real bang for your buck when it comes to spells.
You can get it really early on, and it boosts the strength of all spells considerably. If you’re going for a spell build, this is a must-have.
4 – Mark of Pride
Pretty much just a better Long Nail, Mark of Pride lets you hit enemies from even further away than before. It’s such a useful thing to be able to keep your distance, and I’m sure this charm has protected me on numerous occasions.
You’d Be Crazy Not To Use These
3 – Quick Focus
I’m pretty sure that once I obtained these next charms in any of my playthroughs, they stuck to my builds like superglue.
Quick focus is the definition of a life-saver, and I’m sure I would have died at least quadruple the number of times if I couldn’t quickly heal in a boss fight. Granted, there are some situations where you can’t really heal at all (making this useless), but they’re few and far between.
2 – Unbreakable Strength
An absolute joke of a charm, both in how insanely overpowered it is and how ridiculously expensive it can be to obtain it.
Fragile strength is all you’d ever need, but it has a tendency to break quite a lot. This charm removes that issue, and you’re left with an attack that feels like it’s twice as powerful than it usually is. If it didn’t cost an arm and a leg to get it, this would have easily been the number 1 charm.
1 – Quick Slash
I wonder if the developers regret putting Quick Slash in the game, as it’s both game-breakingly overpowered and easy to retrieve at the same time.
If you’re going to have one charm equipped, it would be this one; I don’t care if you exclusively use spells, there will never be an opportunity where this increased nail speed doesn’t come in handy.
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