Combat in Hollow Knight provides players more of a combat-heavy platform game rather than a fast-paced hack-and-slash, this includes The Knight's both close range combat using his primary weapon The Nail and various ranged Spell based attacks. This page will cover the basic combat movement of The Knight as you encounter dangerous enemies and bosses.
Hollow Knight Combat
The Knight can attack in four directions using the Nail, and performing a down attack while in the air seems to be the most effective way to defeat your enemies - especially those huge bosses. This allows The Knight to pogo on top of the enemy, allowing you to bounce off the enemy and repeat the attack.
Another unique combat mechanic is the use of Spells and its Focus Mechanic. Hitting enemies with The Nail allows The Knight to gain SOUL which is needed to conjure spell based attacks or to heal yourself. It may take some time to heal when Focusing but it is essential to learn this method to heal mid-fight as well as using your primary attack to gain SOUL in order to survive and win a fight. Some spells conjure offensive attacks like a piercing fireball which can either go straight left or right or AoE spell based attacks that allow you to hit a wider area around you.
While in battle, The Knight can parry certain attacks from enemies and bosses. Any incoming attack that has a white line can be parried with basic Nail strikes, and not with the use of Nail Arts, Spells, and/or Abilities. A successful parry deals full Nail damage and provides 0.25 seconds of invulnerability.
Staggering in Hollow Knight applies when you stun a boss after successfully landing a number of attacks, causing them to be paralyzed for a short period of time, this will give the players a window of opportunity to take their time to heal or offensively conjure a strong attack using Spells or Nail Arts. Staggering a boss does not result in damage, but allows the opportunity to deliver multiple hits that can be done, and continuously hitting a staggered boss will result in ending the stagger state - however, not all bosses will stagger, and some will stagger in a unique manner and trigger special events.