The Broken Vessel broke my heart. From its post-death reanimation to its final cry for help, our deformed sibling is a sad, challenging boss to fight. Even if we’re not emotionally attached to our abandoned brethren, the Broken Vessel safeguards a powerful double jump ability that forever transforms the rest of our journey.
In this Broken Vessel Hollow Knight guide, I’ll review how to find and defeat the Broken Vessel to gain access to the Monarch Wings ability. As a bonus, I’ll detail fighting the Broken Vessel’s upgraded version, “Lost Kin,” and putting our wayward sibling to rest.
Bottom Line Up Front: Collect the Crystal Heart super dash ability in Crystal Peak, then proceed to the Ancient Basin from the later section of the City of Tears to find and fight the Broken Vessel. Equip the Fragile Strength, Quick Focus, and Mantis Pride charms, then prioritize dealing damage over healing to make quick work of this boss..
- Quest Location: Ancient Basin
- Quest Giver: N/A
- Requirements: Crystal Heart (Super Dash)
- Length of Quest: 30 Minutes
- Difficulty: Medium
Broken Vessel: A Wannabe Hollow Knight
A void creature intended to contain the Radiance, the Broken Vessel is another of our other siblings who escaped the Pale King’s imprisonment only to meet a grisly end at Ancient Basin.
While the Broken Vessel’s story remains a mystery, its susceptibility to the Radiance’s infection and its title suggest that the creature was capable of thought and emotion, unlike a functional vessel.
Out of the vast majority of bosses we’ll confront, the Broken Vessel’s miserable fate and cry for help make one of the more tragic foes of Hollow Knight. Let’s put our wayward sibling to rest, shall we?
Abilities and Rewards
- Monarch Wings – Wings befitting a righteous ruler; Monarch Wings allow us to double jump midair. While we’ll need this ability to access hard-to-reach areas, Monarch Wings makes combat a breeze and challenging platforming puzzles bearable. We can find these wings in the bottom left of the Ancient Basin, just left of the defeated Broken Vessel.
- 400 Essence (for defeating Lost Kin) – A unique “dream” currency we can redeem with the Seer for pale ore, geo, and powers; essence functions like an alternative currency to geo. While finding this resource is much more challenging and requires fighting tough dream bosses and soul warriors, it also allows us to teleport after gathering 900 essence and enter the White Palace for the good ending after collecting 1800 essence. We can obtain 400 essence after dream nailing the Broken Vessel’s corpse and fighting its more difficult counterpart, the Lost Kin.
Finding the Broken Vessel
The Broken Vessel rests at Hallownest’s Ancient Basin, a quiet, ominous area devoid of music, enemies, and life. While there are several different methods for accessing this region, fighting the boss requires the Crystal Heart ability (Super Dash) from the Crystal Peaks.
Regardless of our chosen path, ensure you’ve obtained that ability before entering this new region so we can save ourselves a long, embarrassing trip back to the City of Tears.
Option A: City of Tears Downwards
Step 1 City of Tears Access
The most straightforward and accessible means of reaching the city, this option requires significant platforming and combat to overcome.
After accessing the 2nd half of the City of Tears from the Resting Grounds, we can access a drop-down into the city’s depths. Starting from King’s Station, head leftwards until we reach an intersection with a path descending downwards.
Step 2 Spike Filled Corridor
We’ll find ourselves in a quiet chamber with two flying enemies to deter our descent downwards. After confronting those foes and navigating a treacherous spike-filled descent downward, we’ll reach a broken elevator with an opening to the left.
Proceeding through this opening reveals several pillars resting over a swarm of harmful bugs punctuated by more flying foes. After dashing past these foes and continuing left, look for an access tunnel that leads downwards to a tram-filled chamber.
Step 3 Ancient Basin
After dropping into another room, we’ll find ourselves in the ominous area of Ancient Basin. With only a few solitary enemies, navigating through this area is relatively easy; however, a few more dangerous foes can ruin our journey. To begin, head to the exit at the room’s bottom left.
We’ll find ourselves in a long horizontal corridor with spikes making up the floor and where we can use Super Dash to reach the other side. Ensure you pay for and rest at the nearby bench before proceeding; this next section can prove challenging.
After reaching the room’s end and continuing onward, we’ll encounter giant mawlurks spewing plague bullets throughout the room. We can fight the ones resting on the ground by hugging them closely; however, we’re better off dashing past the ones attached to the ceiling.
Getting past the final Mawlek and ascending upwards reveals a horizontal passage with the Broken Vessel at the room’s left end and a shortcut we can open at the room’s right. Ensure you open the shortcut first so we can avoid fighting those sets of Mawleks again.
After opening the shortcut and heading back left, we’ll encounter the corpse of one of our siblings with a mangled head. Continuing leftwards causes the door to slam shut and several plague bugs to scurry into our sibling’s head cavity, infecting and reanimating our sibling for a tough fight.
Option B: Royal Waterways Shortcut
While this option is longer and harder to reach, it’s convenient for players that have already collected the Isma’s Tear ability. On the Super Dash back from obtaining the acid-invincibility power within the Royal Waterways, we’ll pass through a set of spikes between rooms with a small opening in the room’s center.
Take care to cancel the jump midway through the dash, and we can safely fall to the room’s bottom. From here, we can continue to Step 2 of Option A to reach the Broken Vessel’s hideout.
Option C: Tram Ride from Bottom
While this section requires a treacherous trek through Deepnest to obtain a Tram Pass, it allows us to skip the spike-filled room and access the Hive if we’re interested in accessing the DLC. After acquiring a Tram Pass from an unfinished tramway in the top left of Deepnest, head to Deepnest’s bottom right to find a usable tram.
Riding the tram allows for a safe trip with cozy seating and music to reach Option A, Step 3 of the Ancient Basin. Beware that continuing to ride the tram deposits us in the Graveyard of Ash with a breakable wall that leads to the Hive, a challenging bee-themed area with several rewards.
Ideal Charm Setup
- Fragile Strength (3 notches) – For those looking for an overpowered glass cannon build, the Fragile Strength charm increases our nail’s damage by 50% but breaks the charm upon death. I advise using this charm on a second or third attempt once we get familiar with the Broken Vessel’s moveset.
- We can purchase Fragile Strength from Leg Eater atop the Fungal Wastes for 600 geo and repair it for 350 geo. Alternatively, equipping the Defender’s Crest dropped from Dung Eater lowers the cost of purchasing and repairing the charm to 480 and 280, respectively.
- Mark of Pride (3 notches) – An excellent charm for hitting foes from afar, Mark of Pride increases the length of our nail by 25%. While this charm is ideal for the small size of the arena and keeping up with the agile movements of the boss, its best feature lies in crowd control against the plague balloons that sporadically appear. We can find the Mark of Pride in the Mantis Village rewards room after defeating the Mantis Lords.
- Quick Slash (3 notches) – Great for bringing the boss to stagger and maximizing damage output, Quick Slash drastically increases our attack rate. While this charm synergizes well with fragile Strength as a damage maximizer, it also allows us to generate soul more quickly for spells and focusing.
I advise pairing this charm with other damage-dealing charms to make quick work of most bosses. We can acquire Quick Slash from the remains of an ancient nailsmith under the ruins of the Kingdom’s edge, progressing from the right of the Nailmaster Oro and downwards.
- Quick Focus (3 notches) – While the broken Vessel’s quick movements can frequently deter healing, Quick Focus can give us the time we need to heal quickly in a tense situation. While I suggest prioritizing damage-dealing over healing, Quick Focus can increase our survivability during this fight if we die frequently. We can purchase Quick Focus from Salubra for 800 geo in the Forgotten Crossroads.
- Fragile Heart (2 notches) – Offering two extra masks, Fragile Heart would be an excellent all-around charm if not for it breaking upon death upon death. While this charm is less valuable if we frequently die to the broken Vessel, it is an excellent charm for giving ourselves the boost we need to defeat the boss. Like Fragile Strength, I suggest equipping this charm on our 2nd or 3rd attempt once we feel familiar with the Broken Vessels moveset.
Best Charm Build for Broken Vessel
- Fragile Strength (3 notches)
- Quick Slash (3 notches)
- Mantis Pride (3 notches)
- Fragile Heart (2 notches)
Fight: Broken Vessel
The Broken Vessel is one of the more challenging bosses to fight from the start. While it has a decent amount of health, most of its attacks enable it to nimbly jump across the room and halt our attempts to focus.
Unless we have a fully upgraded nail or improved spells, we’re better off applying the attack strategy below.
When the Broken Vessel rears its head and makes a dashing sound, we can expect it to dash horizontally across the floor or air above. While this attack can be devasting if we’re trying to heal or are unprepared for the attack, it has distinct audio and visual cues we can anticipate.
Listen for the dashing sound and watch for it lifting its head, then jump over it or let it dash above, depending on its position.
If we get too far from the boss, the Broken Vessel closes the distance with a descending attack that sends plague bullets rising from the floor. I advise moving away from the Vessel as it begins the attack, then hugging the foe to avoid the projectiles; the bullets never rise right next to the boss, so we can enjoy a small safe zone next to the boss.
While this is less of an attack than the Broken Vessel navigating the arena, it effectively removes the air as a safety net. Our best bet is to remain on the floor, taking care to anticipate where the Broken Vessel will land, jumping only to avoid dashes.
Consisting of the Broken Vessel slamming its head into the floor, causing dozens of plague bullets to rise from the ground, the mass attack is a brutal but thankfully rare attack during the fight.
While this attack covers nearly the entire area, we can appreciate a small safe zone relatively close to the foe. I suggest delivering some damage to the Broken Vessel during this attack, trying to break their poise, and focusing if we lost any health during this attack.
Focus During Staggers
While we’re better off prioritizing damaging dealing over healing, taking time to heal during the enemy’s brief stagger can rescue us if we’re on the verge of death. I recommend going for focusing 1 mask shard (2 if we have quick heal) and immediately dodging once the boss recovers.
After landing the final blow, we’ll witness the Broken Vessel exploding and then regaining its faculties for a brief second to reach out for help before collapsing to the floor.
While we can reenter the room with a dream nail to fight and ultimately free the Broken Vessel’s soul, I advise leftward to obtain the Monarch Wings first; it’s a tough fight, and the wings make it much more bearable.
To gain access to the wings, head leftwards and drop down several levels until we find a new set of wings on a stone emblem. Jumping upwards triggers a small scene of the Knight absorbing these wings and gaining the ability to double jump.
Congratulations, we can now access new areas of Hallownest!
Dream Fight: Lost Kin
For those curious enough to dream nail the Broken Vessel after our victory, we can fight an upgraded version of the Broken Vessel titled Lost Kin. This version of the Broken Vessel has increased health, quicker attacks, and one less move (the headbutt attack is conspicuously absent).
While all the tips above apply, we can equip Fragile Strength and Fragile Heart without worrying about them breaking (it’s a dream battle) and must take greater care to anticipate the boss’s movements throughout the fight.
I also advise forgoing focusing altogether; the Lost Kin’s quick attacks and the high frequency of plague balloons prevent and punish attempts to heal. However, if you desperately need to heal, equip spore shroom and quick focus to ward off plague balloons and evade the boss.
Following the fight, we can enjoy a short interaction with the Broken Vessel’s spirit thanking us with a nod and putting our lost brethren to rest. We also receive 400 essence for our trouble and can return to Seer for a powerful new reward!
Broken Vessel Quest Rewards
- Monarch Wings
- 400 Essence (Lost Kin only)
Hollow Knight (Estranged Sibling)
Like the Broken Vessel, the Hollow Knight was a failed Vessel meant to contain the Radiance. While the Hollow Knight Pale King showing the merest ounce of paternal affection (as seen in the Path of Pain), ruins the Hollow Knight, the Broken Vessel’s flawremains unknown.
Although the two characters assuredly never meet, they are almost functionally identical, except the Broken Vessel wasn’t raised and trained to perfection like the Hollow Knight.
Hornet (Hated Sibling)
The guardian of Hallownest and a child of the Pale King and Hera, Hornet is the Broken Vessel’s half-sister and potentially their killer.
While Hornet makes little mention of the Broken Vessel, her slaughter of other siblings, like the one found in Greenpath, suggests that she murdered the Broken Vessel to prevent them from taking the place of the Hollow Knight.
Regardless of whether she played a part in the wayward Vessel’s demise, Hornet’s cruel treatment of the Hollow Knight for the first half of their interaction suggests she would have also mistreated the Broken Vessel.
The Knight (Sympathetic Sibling)
A vessel like the Hollow Knight and another sibling of Hornet, we control the Knight for the entirety of Hollow Knight. While the Knight’s primary interaction with the Broken Vessel is through violent combat, we can grant the Broken Vessel mercy after dream nailing its corpse and violently removing the Radiance.
Despite the brief post-death interaction, it’s potent enough to demonstrate some kinship between the two wayward vessels.
Question: How do I Defeat the Broken Vessel?
Answer: Equipping damage and nail-enhancing charms (like Fragile Strenth, Quick Slash, and Mantis Pride) can quicken the time it takes to bring the broken Vessel to stagger and the fight to an end. The Broken Vessel’s quick movements inhibit and punish attempts to heal, so prioritizing damage-dealing over healing is more optimal.
Question: Where is the Broken Vessel?
Answer: The Broken Vessel lies to the bottom left of the Ancient Basin after a Super Dash across a spiked floor. We can access the Ancient from the second area of the City of Tears, the bottom right of Deepnest (with a tram pass), or from a Super Dash through the Royal Waterways.
Question: How Do I Fight LostKin?
Answer: We can fight a much more challenging version of the Broken Vessel by dream-nailing the corpse of the Broken Vessel after killing the boss and reentering the room. This version has increased health and quicker movements, but succeeding against this boss triggers a small scene of putting our broken sibling at peace.
Question: Who is the Broken Vessel?
Answer: The Broken Vessel is a failed creation of Pale King’s meant to contain the Radiance. Like the siblings, Hollow Knight, and our player character, the Broken Vessel is a child of the Pale King, and White Lady, infused with void and inhumanely discarded to make room for the Hollow Knight.
We can find the corpses of our other malformed void siblings in the Abyss below the Ancient Basin.
Well done, brave bug! We’ve found, fought, and freed one of the more tragic bosses of Hollow Knight and gained a powerful new midair jump ability with the Monarch Wings. While the Broken Vessel’s escape from the Abyss remains a mystery, we can rest easy knowing we put our downtrodden sibling to peace.
So, with the Monarch Wings in tow, let’s honor our fallen brethren by aspiring to reach new heights and challenging areas beyond our reach; that’s what the double jump ability is for, after all. As the chosen champion of Hallownest, let’s go forth and show the Radiance what for!