Many elements in Hollow Knight connect it into the Metroidvania masterpiece that it is. One of the essential things in this indie game is Essence. From almost the very beginning of the game, you start collecting Essence after obtaining the Dream Nail.
This Hollow Knight Essence guide will demonstrate how you can get enough Essence for all in-game rewards needed for 112% game completion.
Warping using the Dreamgate is one of the advantages you get collecting Essence and costs one Essence each time you travel, so in consideration of that, I will tell you where the rest of the Essence in Hallownest is as well.
The Dream Nail lets you collect the memories and dreams of the vacated bugs, to put it simply, Essence. The Dream Nail is acquired in a dream that is triggered when inspecting the Dreamers Memorial.
After a short platforming part, a shining moth gives you the Dream Nail, saying: “What a terrible fate they’ve visited upon you.”
Essence clings to the Nail and enables you to teleport from one place to another through dreams. Now, when you have the Dream Nail, you are the Wielder. Your mission is to collect the memories from all corners of Hallownest as repentance for the Moth Tribe’s Crimes.
You can now start collecting Essence to claim rewards from Seer. She will reward you eleven times, regardless of how frequently you visit her, meaning if you collect 1000 Essence and visit her, she will give you seven rewards at the same time, one after another. Here is a list of commodities that Seer’ll honor you with:
- For 100 Essence, Seer will give you a Hallownest Seal that you can sell for 450 Geo.
- For 200 Essence, Seer explains that the door outside is the entrance into the Spirits’ Glade and opens it for you.
- For 300 Essence, Seer gives you Pale Ore to upgrade your Nail.
- For 500 Essence, Seer gives you the Dream Wielder Charm that grants you more Soul when hitting enemies using the Dream Nail, reduces the time required when attacking enemies using the Dream Nail, and doubles the likelihood of receiving Essence when killing enemies.
- For 600 Essence, you get The Attunement Achievement.
- For 700 Essence, Seer gives you a Vessel Fragment so that you can upgrade your Soul meter (three Vessel Fragments are needed for a complete Soul Vessel upgrade).
- For 900 Essence, Seer blesses you with the ability to place a Dreamgate on the map to travel to later on through dreams.
- For 1200 Essence, Seer presents you with an Arcane Egg that you can sell for 1200 Essence.
- For 1500 Essence, Seer gives you a Mask Shard that you can use to increase your maximum health (four Mask Shards are required for a complete mask).
- For 1800 Essence, Seer Awakens your Dream Nail, allowing you to access the previously hidden dreams and memories.
- For 2400 Essence, you get The Ascension Achievement.
The Ascension Achievement
After collecting 2400 Essence, Seer confesses the Moths’ abandonment of the Radiance. The Wielder that she had been waiting for has finally appeared, and with the memories of her tribe, she says that she is to be forgotten too.
She turns into a memory herself, with one of her last words being: “Don’t remember us, Wielder. Don’t honor us. We do not deserve it.”
- Seer is the last surviving member of her tribe. She sits in the Resting Grounds guiding you, but she is also that shining moth that you follow in the dream realm when getting your Dream Nail. After she turns into Essence, you get The Ascension Achievement.
- Seer turns into Essence almost identical to Radiance’s light Essence, but some Hollow Knight characters have a different kind of Essence. Unn has green Essence particles, the Pale King has whitish-grey particles, while Grimm gives off red particles. Grimm describes his burning Essence as flames in dreams.
The two best ways to get Essence are defeating bosses and warriors in their dreams. You can only access the Dream Bosses after defeating the bosses themselves, and their dream counterparts are stronger and faster in the Dream Realm.
You just have to use your Dream Nail on their corpse, and the fight starts. Each time you die, you will respawn back without losing your shade or Geo right where you used the Dream Nail on the defeated boss.
Dream Warriors are available to challenge after acquiring the Dream Nail, and you can purchase the Warrior’s Grave Pin from Iselda for 180 Geo in Dirtmouth.
The Warrior’s Grave Pin reveals the locations of the Warriors in the areas in which a map has been purchased.
Keep in mind that charms play a significant role in each of these fights, and you undoubtedly have your own loadout ready, but I will put a list below of charms that I think are good for these fights and overall just some of the best charms in the game to have.
You can make a delicate balance based on your play style, the charms you have obtained, and available charm notch spaces.
The charms on this list are grouped so that consecutive ones usually go well with the ones around them, aside from Fragile/Unbreakable Heart and Fragile/Unbreakable Strength that are just good in general. Fragile charms don’t break during dream fights.
Making a few minor adjustments make a world of difference; just using the Defender’s Crest with Shade Soul results in you becoming a damage-dealing ball of gas.Here’s a long list of charms that will all be beneficial while you’re on this expedition:
- Longnail (notch cost: 2) – increases Nail range by 15%. It can be obtained by buying it from Salubra in Forgotten Crossroads for 300 Geo.
- Mark of Pride (notch cost: 3) – increases Nail range by 25%. Found in a chest room after defeating the Mantis Lords.
- Quick Slash (notch cost: 3) – decreases attack duration from 0.35s to 0.28s and attack cooldown from 0.41s to 0.25s. Found in Kingdom’s Edge on a massive anvil in a hidden room in front of the corpse of the Ancient Nailsmith.
- Soul Catcher (notch cost: 2) – gain three more Soul with each hit for the main Soul Vessel and two more Soul for reserve Soul Vessels. Found after killing the Elder Baldur at the end of the Ancestral Mound.
- Soul Eater (notch cost: 4) – gain eight more Soul with each hit for the main Soul Vessel and six more Soul for reserve Soul Vessels. Found in Resting Grounds and requires having Desolate Dive/Descending Dark.
- Shaman Stone (notch cost: 3) – increases the size and hitbox of all spells. Vengeful Spirit/Shade Soul damage increased by 33%. Desolate Dive damage increased by 51%, Descending Dark damage increased by 47%. Howling Wraiths/Abyss Shriek damage increased by 50%. Shaman Stone can be bought in the Forgotten Crossroads from Salubra for 220 Geo.
- Spell Twister (notch cost: 2) – reduces the cost of spells by 24.75%. Found in a secret room in the Soul Sanctum.
- Quick Focus (notch cost: 3) – increases focus speed by 33%. It can be bought in the Forgotten Crossroads from Salubra for 800 Geo.
- Grubsong (notch cost: 1) – gain 15 Soul when taking damage. The Grubfather gives it to you after saving ten grubs.
- Defender’s Crest (notch cost: 1) – surrounds you with a toxic cloud that deals one damage per tick, lasting 2.2s and refreshes every 0.2s. Dung Defender drops the Defender’s Crest after defeating him in the Royal Waterways.
- Sharp Shadow (notch cost: 2) – damages enemies for the same amount of damage that your Nail deals at the time when dashing through them and increases the dash length by 39%. Acquired in Deepnest, requires Shade Cloak.
- Steady Body (notch cost: 1) – removes all knockback. It can be bought from Salubra in the Forgotten Crossroads for 120 Geo.
- Stalwart Shell (notch cost: 2) – increases the invincibility duration after being hit from 1.3s to 1.75s and reduces the hit recoil after being hit from 0.2s to 0.08s. It can be bought in Dirthmouth from Sly for 200 Geo.
- Nailmaster’s Glory (notch cost: 1) – reduces the charge time for Nail Arts from 1.35s to 0.75s. Sly presents the Nailmaster’s Glory charm after learning all three Nail Arts.
- Thorns of Agony (notch cost: 1) – damages the enemies for the base Nail damage when hit. Found in Greenpath and requires dash to reach.
- Dashmaster (notch cost: 2) – reduces dash cooldown from 0.6s to 0.4s and allows dashing downwards. It is located beneath the statue below the Mantis Village in Fungal Wastes.
- Sprintmaster (notch cost: 1) – increases movement speed from 8.3 to 10. After acquiring the Shopkeeper’s key, it can be bought in Dirtmouth from Sly for 400 Geo.
- Joni’s Blessing (notch cost: 4) – increases masks by 40%, rounded up to the nearest whole number (if you have six masks, it will round to nine masks). Found in the Howling Cliffs in Joni’s Repose.
- Flukenest (notch cost: 3) – replaces Vengeful Spirit with nine flukes and Shade Soul with sixteen flukes. Each fluke does four damage resulting in 36 with Vengeful Spirit compared to the base 15 without any charms and 64 with Shade Soul compared to 30 base damage without charms. Flukenest works excellently in combination with the Shaman Stone charm. Flukemarm drops it after defeating her in the Royal Waterways.
- Fragile Heart or Unbreakable Heart (notch cost: 2) – adds two masks of health. It can be purchased in Fungal Wastes from Leg Eater for 350 Geo, and it can be given to Divine to make it unbreakable for 12000 Geo.
- Fragile Strength or Unbreakable Strength (notch cost: 3) – increases Nail damage by 50%. It can be purchased in Fungal Wastes from Leg Eater for 600 Geo, and it can be given to Divine to make it unbreakable for 15000 Geo.
Defeating all five Dream Bosses (Failed Champion, Lost Kin, White Defender, Soul Tyrant, Grey Prince Zote), you gain 1600 Essence.
As mentioned, fragile charms don’t break during these fights as you’re fighting them in their dreams; therefore, you can use strong charms without risking anything while you’re fighting what are rated as some of the most challenging bosses in the game.
You might have heard that Nightmare King Grimm is also one of the Dream Bosses, and he is. Defeating him, though, won’t give you Essence; he will instead upgrade your Grimmchild charm to level four.
The Failed Champion
The Failed Champion is above the arena where you fought the False Knight, in the center of the Forgotten Crossroads.
Most of his attacks are the same as the ones of the False Knight, but each of his attacks causes rocks to fall from above, crashing into the ground.Defeating him gives you 300 Essence.
The Lost Kin
Found in the Ancient Basin in the same place where you fought the Broken Vessel. It spawns orange blobs throughout the whole battle and gets knocked over for a short period of time. This short break gives you a lot of space to heal or deal damage if you’re in good shape. The orange blobs give you a lot of Soul, which also allows you to use spells. It jumps a lot, so a combination of staying on the ground and using Howling Wraigths will be enough to take it down.Defeating it gives you 400 Essence.
The White Defender
The White Defender has a lot of HP and is found under the room where you fought the Dung Defender in the Royal Waterways using the Desolate Dive.
Even with his high HP, he is relatively easy to defeat. He has many of the same attacks as the Dung Defender and is easy to predict.Defeating him gives you 300 Essence.
The Soul Tyrant
The Soul Tyrant is at the exact location where you fought the Soul Master in Soul Sanctum. The Soul Tyrant has the same attacks as the Soul Master but is quicker and spawns more fireballs than his counterpart. Having Monarch Wings for this fight will make it so much easier.
The Soul Tyrant teleports around the arena, so the Quick Slash charm won’t be very effective for this battle. I would recommend using magic boosting charms for this battle as you won’t have that many chances to hit him with the Nail aside from the time he floats stationary on one side of the room.
I recommend equipping Shaman Stone and Soul Eater as this is a situation where it is dangerous to use your Nail during the fight.
With that, I recommend considering Quick Slash, Mark of Pride, and Unbreakable Strength, or even Fragile Strength. Defeating him gives you 300 Essence.
The Grey Prince Zote
Grey Prince Zote can be found in Dirtmouth as long as you’ve fought and defeated Zote in the Colosseum of Fools and rescued Zote and Bretta.
He is in Bretta’s basement, and just like with any other Dream Boss, you use the Dream Nail on him, and the fight starts. He can be fought up to ten times but gives 300 Essence only the first time you defeat him.
Dream Warrior Graves
Dream Warriors are, from my view, easier than Dream Bosses. In these fights, you have many opportunities to use Howling Wraiths or Abyss Shriek as they are usually above you and both of these spells have larger hitboxes than what it looks like.
Use the Nail to collect Soul and deal damage, of course, but as Howling Wraiths/Abyss Shriek deals so much damage in such a short time, it is much more efficient to use Howling Wraiths/Abyss Shriek against Dream Warriors instead of going at them with the Nail.
After defeating all seven Dream Warriors (Xero, Gorb, Marmu, Markoth, Elder Hu, No Eyes, Galien), you gain 1100 essence. If you’ve defeated all Dream bosses and Dream Warriors, you already have enough Essence for everything you need and more.
You can find Xero’s warrior grave in Resting Grounds. He is pretty easy to defeat. He uses only one attack, shooting nails at you; when he gets to half of his health, he spawns two more Nails and shoots those at you as well.Defeating him gives you 100 Essence.
Gorb’s warrior grave is in The Stag Nest in Howling Cliffs that you can access only after finding every other Stag Station first.
It, similarly to Xero, shoots at you, firing eight spears at you all at the same time while teleporting randomly. At 70%HP, Gorb fires two waves of spears in alternating patterns, and at 40%HP, Gorb fires three waves.Defeating it gives you 100 Essence.
Marmu’s warrior grave is in Queen’s Gardens. There is a secret opening left of the Stag Station that you can go through if you’ve previously unlocked it.
She is the only warrior I would recommend going against only with the Nail and playing in a defensive manner.Defeating her gives you 150 Essence.
Markoth’s warrior grave is at King’s Station in Kingdom’s Edge, right through that passage in the water on the right of the broken bentch.
You need the Shade Cloak to get to his warrior grave. He just casts Nails at you and has a shield going around him for the first half of the battle, and then he spawns a second shield.
Use every chance you can to refill your Soul and use Howling Wraiths/Abyss Shriek whenever his shields are away from him. Defeating him gives you 250 Essence.
Elder Hu’s warrior grave is in City’s Storerooms in Fungal Wastes. Standard procedure dash away from the pillars and heal if you need to when the pillars pass you as they are very predictable, making Elder Hu very easy to defeat. Defeating him gives you 100 Essence.
No Eyes’ warrior grave is in Queen’s Station in The Stone Sanctuary, and just like with Marmu, I recommend going defensively on this one as well.
This time you have much more space to cast Howling Wraiths or Abyss Shriek, though. Defeating her gives you 200 Essence.
Galien’s warrior grave is in the Failed Tramway. In this fight, just dodge his Spinning and Dream Scythes and hit him with the Nail until you have enough for Howling Wraiths or Abyss Shriek, and he’ll go down really easily.Defeating him gives you 200 Essence.
Whispering Roots are tree-like roots filled with Essence and are available after acquiring the Dream Nail. You can purchase the Whispering Root Pin from Iselda for 150 Geo in Dirtmouth. The Warrior’s Grave Pin reveals the locations of all Whispering Roots in the areas in which a map has been purchased.
There are fifteen Swispering Roots in Hollow Knight, and after being hit with the Dream Nail, they spawn floating Essence in the surrounding area to be collected. With all Whispering Roots combined, you can collect a total of 482 Essence.
- Ancestral Mound – 42 Essence
- City of Tears – 28 Essence
- Crystal Peak – 21 Essence
- Deepnest – 45 Essence
- Forgotten Crossroads – 29 Essence
- Fungal Wastes – two Whispering Roots, one containing 20 Essence near the Fog Canyon, and the second containing 18 Essence near the Mantis Village
- Greenpath – 44 Essence
- The Hive – 20 Essence
- Howling Cliffs – 46 Essence
- Kingdom’s Edge – 51 Essence
- Queen’s Gardens – 29 Essence
- Resting Grounds – 20 Essence
- Royal Waterways (Broken lift) – 35 Essence
- Spirits’ Glade – 34 Essence
There are twenty-six spirits in Hollow Knight that you can interact with and get the last twenty-six Essence. Nineteen of them are in Spirits’ Glade that Seer opened after having collected 200 Essence, and the rest of the Spirits are scattered throughout the map.
Spirits’ Glade is where the souls of deceased bugs came to rest.
- Dr. Chagax
- Hundred Nail Warrior
- Perpetos Noo
- Magnus Strong
Upon entering, Revek will warn you not to harm the residents of the Glade. Using the Dream Nail on Spirits is what gets you that one extra Essence you’ve been after.
After using the Dream Nail on any spirit will result in Revek spawning and starting to continuously attack you, dealing two masks of damage in an attempt to protect the Glade’s inhabitants. He cannot be defeated until you’ve used the Dream Nail on all eighteen Spirits.
After freeing all eighteen Spirits, interacting with Revek, conquered, he’ll say:
“The Glade has stilled. It’s so quiet, yet I feel… failure? In this place, I once performed a task, but what was it?.. It’s so hard to recall. Surely it was important? How could I forget such a thing?”. After that dialogue, you can use the Dream Nail on him and gain one Essence.
The Rest of the Spirits in Hollow Knight
- Grave Digger – Dirthmouth
- Blue Child Joni – Joni’s Repose in Howling Cliffs
- Marissa – Pleasure House in the City of Tears
- Poggy Thorax – Pleasure House in the City of Tears
- Hive Queen Vespa – The Hive
- Caelif & Fera Orthop – Queen’s Gardens
- Cloth – Queen’s Gardens
For Cloth, there are some requirements, and you can miss her. You first need to meet her in Fungal Wastes and talk to her. Sometime after that, you will help her in the Ancient Basin. After fighting the Traitor Lord in Queen’s Gardens, you will be able to free her after her devastating fate.
Regular enemies also have a chance to drop Essence, and that chance is increased if you spend your Essence and if you have the Dream Wielder charm equipped.