Godmaster is the last free downloadable content pack for Hollow Knight, released last August 23rd, 2018. It is primarily an end-game quest that aims to push players to their fighting limits with boss rush-style combat challenges.
Safe to say, it is the most complex challenge offered by the game. Inside the Godhome, you are tasked with fighting all the bosses in the game plus new ones in four pantheons. Then, after overcoming all four pantheons, you are charged with the ultimate challenge of beating all bosses again, but this time even harder versions and stages, not to mention doing all of that in one go.
The fourth pantheon, Pantheon of the Knight, introduces the Pure Vessel, the uninfected version of the Hollow Knight during his prime. They’re a formidable combatant who ruined the runs of many Godseekers. In this article, we’ll take a stab at how to crack their tough shell, as well as how to access Godhome and find them.
The Pure Vessel can be found at the peak of the Pantheon of the Knight, the fourth pantheon in Godhome. It is a fast-paced complex fight because of how it can use moves that share similar start-up animations. Thus, mastery, reaction speed, and reflexes are important to triumph over it.
It is best to focus on dodging most attacks by walking away and jumping once, then reacting with either a Shadow Dash or aggressive jumping downward slash. You can heal during a stagger, between the Soul Pillars, or under the Soul Daggers with Shape of Unn equipped.
Where to find Pure Vessel
First and foremost, you need to enter Godhome, a dream location inside the mind of the Godseeker. Before the Godmaster update, there were only three simple keys: one opened the Royal Waterways, another the cave to the right of Dirtmouth housing Confessor Jiji, and another to the Pleasure House in the City of Tears. The simple key added to account for the Godseeker’s cocoon is located in a secret area to the right of the Colosseum of Fools. Though any simple key works.
Once you have obtained an extra simple key, make your way to the Royal Waterways. Make your way to the bench on the lower left of the area, near Flukemarm. Above the room before Flukemarm, there’s a hidden crack in the ceiling. You know you’re near when you find the Belfly (the exploding bat). Break the crack and enter it. Make your way through the maze, exiting on the left side. Keep swimming to the left, and you’ll eventually reach the Junk Pit.
Use your spare simple key to open the ominous locked cocoon. Grab the Godtuner, then use the dream nail on the Godseeker. Congratulations, you have entered Godhome. Don’t forget to bring a fully upgraded nail and collect all the masks shards before stepping inside.
Pantheon of the Knight
You can fight Pure Vessel by unlocking the Pantheon of the Knight. To do that, you first have to climb the peak of the three previous pantheons, namely: Pantheon of the Master, Pantheon of the Artist, and Pantheon of the Sage. That entails advancing through a boss rush mode wherein you fight the previously encountered bosses inside the ruins of Hallownest.
Once the Pantheon of the Knight is available, you have to manually tune the door to unlock it, similar to the previous three. You do this by defeating the bosses inscribed on its frame: Enraged Guardian, No Eyes, Traitor Lord, Markoth, the Watcher Knights, and the Hollow Knight. However, despite their appearance on the door, you don’t need to defeat the Failed Champion, Soul Tyrant, Lost Kin, and the White Defender to access the fourth pantheon.
After doing all of this, all there’s left is to meet them on the peak.
How to Defeat Pure Vessel
Unless you’re sparring with Pure Vessel in the Hall of Gods, keep in mind that you have to bulldoze your way through the other bosses to get to them. Thus, your charms should also work for the other bosses lest you die for them before even reaching the peak.
Take your most comfortable charm combination for the first five bosses. Be extra careful when fighting the Traitor Lord since he could use up your resources before the White Defender fight. After beating the White Defender, there’s a resting spot on the next room, complete with a bench and a hot spring.
Now we have to make a charm combination that helps against the Pure Vessel and stands toe-to-toe against the Failed Champion, Markoth, Watcher Knight, and the Soul Tyrant (in order). Mix-and-match these charms to your preference:
Long Nail/Mark of Pride
Extended nail range is a must against Pure Vessel. You need it to execute downward jumping slashes (pogos) with ease, allowing you to dodge and attack their ground attacks. It also helps to get a few cheap swipes at them when they’re stuck in place during their Soul Pillars move.
I prefer Long Nail so that I can fit in more charms, but if you need the extra range of Mark of Pride, go ahead and take it. Just don’t combine both since it’s too much for the charm notch cost. The extra range also provides a significant advantage against the two flying bosses: Markoth and Soul Tyrant.
Quick Slash or Nailmaster’s Glor
Pick one for your main attack bonus charm. If dashing through their soul dagger attack comes naturally to you, take the Quick Slash charm as you can pile up some hits while they’re idle. If you can dash behind them during his void tendril attack, it’s a death sentence for them since that’s a sizable amount of damage with Quick Slash.
Alternately, take Nailmaster’s Glory if you have a hard time weaving hits while dodging their attacks, or you overcommit when attacking with Quick Slash. Throwing in Great Slashes and Dash Slashes between their attacks is a balanced and patient approach to the fight.
Quick Focus +- Shape of Unn
If you do manage to stagger the Pure Vessel, you barely have enough time to heal one mask. Another time to heal is when you immediately start focusing when they use their Soul Pillar attack, but the timing is extremely tight. Quick Focus lets you recover for more during those minor downtimes, giving you a small leeway for taking more damage.
If you can’t take advantage of those opportunities or you just favor a more defensive playstyle, pairing Shape of Unn with Quick Focus is the best healing combo in the game. Additionally, you can now duck under their Soul Daggers while simultaneously healing.
Generally a potent charm for climbing the pantheons. More strength means the overall time of the fight is reduced, lessening the margin of error and Pure Vessel’s chances to retaliate. If you need more defensive charms, you can opt to leave this out.
Sharp Shadow is a beneficial charm if you find yourself missing the time to jump above them. Since Sharp Shadow gives you a more extended range on your Shadow Dash, you can phase right through them when they lunge at you. Furthermore, you damage them whenever you do so.
Shaman Stone/ Soul Twister
Shaman Stone significantly increases your spell damage, speeding up the fight. To ensure that you’re always stacking damage on Pure Vessel. It’s handy when they’re using Void Tendrils, as it allows you to hit them while also stalling your time in the air, dodging their tentacle.
Use Soul Twister when you want to spam Desolate Dive/ Descending Dark for its defensive capabilities. You can abuse the invincibility frames on that spell to dodge and attack Pure Vessel. It is effortlessly easy when they use their focus attack.
Once you get the timing on that, you can land right next to them, landing free hits during their idle period. Having a charm for spells is also good to ease the pain against Markoth since you can unleash a barrage of Howling Wraiths/Abyss Shrieks during his tricky second phase.
Now onto the fight, I will be listing each of their moves while also giving unique tips for each. Afterward, I’ll discuss a more overarching flow to the fight and how to approach it the safest way possible.
Phase 1 begins as soon as the fight starts. Pure Vessel will keep all their moves mentioned during the initial phase but stronger variants of them. He’ll also incorporate new attacks in his cycle.
Pure Vessel teleports to either side of the playing field facing the center and raising their hand. The hand glows while seven daggers burst forward, shooting towards the Knight in straight lines. The daggers are summoned one by one, starting from the floor going upwards
. This is the most straightforward spell to dodge and your best time to counter-attack. When you notice their hand pointing towards you, start running towards them, Shadow Cloak Dash right through the dagger that will hit you, then start wailing on them.
Pure Vessel slashes with their nail three times, with each slash pushing them towards you. It shares the same start-up animation with Lunge, thus making it hard to react to. My advice is to walk away from Pure Vessel while jumping once. If they lunge at you, Shadow Dash straight through them. However, if they attempt to Triple Slash, use your Monarch Wings to double-jump and pogo on their head.
This is why we take long nail/mark of pride. Be careful not to stay behind their head as the slash’s arc is so broad it can even hit their back. If you get the timing right, you can even parry during the pogo, gaining Soul and looking fabulous in the process.
Pure Vessel draws their nail up and charges straight towards you with their nail stretched outwards. In regards to start-up, treat the Lunge and Triple Slash as the same move. Depending on your distance and reaction time, they both can be reacted with an aggressive pogo or a defensive Shadow Dash. If you don’t want to guess either, you can walk away, jump, and ready your double-jump when they come too close.
Pure Vessel either leaps or teleports into the air above your last known location, then slams down, causing soul pillars to protrude from the floor. These pillars are equally spaced but a bit thicker on the bottom. Remain calm during this attack, as this is when you can heal.
The pillars telegraph where they’re spawning, so find a safe space and immediately start focusing on healing. If you don’t need to recover, you can attack the Pure Vessel if you’re near enough, but take caution that the recoil of your nail doesn’t push you into a pillar.
Pure Vessel guards himself with their nail, fishing for a counter. If you damage them and their nail shines accompanied with the familiar parry sound, they don’t take damage and respond with a swift riposte.
The obvious answer would be to tell you not to hit Pure Vessel during this stance, which is the proper response. But if you’re caught in the heat of the moment and strike them, you have to quickly Shadow Dash through them because there’s no time to jump above them or dash away.
Though not necessarily attacks, the Pure Vessel can also perform defensive moves in reaction to the Knight. For example, they can jump when the Knight stays in the air for too long, dealing contact damage— especially when you keep using jumping downward slash on him. They could also teleport to prepare an attack or dodge yours, and backstep to dodge your attack while also preparing their own.
Phase 2 begins when you bring them down to 66% of their max HP.
Pure Vessel begins focusing on Soul similar to the Knight. What sets them apart is that Pure Vessel surrounds itself with a circular aura that explodes. Then, six more minor auras appear randomly throughout the arena, exploding in quick succession. Pure Vessel readies another attack while the last circle is about to burst.
The circular aura’s radius grows more prominent in the next phase of the fight. There are two ways to approach this move, you can either dash away and dodge this attack, or you can use this as an opportunity to attack. If you choose the latter, you have to get comfortable abusing Desolate Dive/ Descending Dark. Exploiting the spell’s invincibility frames would net you tons of damage because there’s some idle time after he casts the spell.
Phase 3 starts when their life reaches a critical threshold of 33% of their max HP.
Pure Vessel opens their cloak, revealing the void within it. Shortly after, it lashes out with its two tentacles spanning most of the arena. If you’re near it, you can dash behind them for a lot of damage or pogo on their head. If you’re slow to reach and can’t get to them in time, you should time double jump, air dash, and Shade Soul to stall and avoid the ground while simultaneously damaging them.
The Pure Vessel’s fast and confusing start-up animations coupled with its speed make it such a hard fight. If the player lacks sufficient reaction time, it can come down to RNG at times. A general rule is that when they’re priming a ground attack, you want to walk away and jump once while you don’t know what it is. Then, you can react accordingly.
Focus on dodging through their attacks while attacking it after its Soul Dagger attack. The more comfortable you get bobbing and weaving, the more you can add small bits of damage through pogos and spells. Only heal when they’re staggered or if you quickly find a safe spot between the soul pillar.
Most importantly, avoid the side of the arena and try to stay as close to the center as possible. Since most of the time Pure Vessel teleports to either side, you’ll soon be overwhelmed by how crowded it becomes. Additionally, playing near the center allows you to instantly hit them after a successful dodge.
Rewards for Beating Pure Vessel
The Pure Vessel is the final challenge of the Pantheon of the Knight, the fourth Pantheon in Godhome. Clearing the Pantheon of the Knight grants access to the Pantheon of Hallownest, the fourth and final pantheon. It also bestows the Soul and Shade achievement upon completion.
After clearing the Pantheon of the Knight for the first time, there’s a small cutscene shown at the end. The Knight, the Hollow Knight, and hundred of vessels are in it. Together, they look up to the light which presumably belongs to the Radiance. The Radiance screams, and the void roars back. Darkness consumes the screen, and it ends there.
The Pantheon of Hallownest can only be entered after overcoming the previous pantheon and acquiring the Void Heart. It is a brutal boss rush wherein you have to challenge 42 bosses in total, including the Pure Vessel. Defeating Pure Vessel here ascends you to fight Absolute Radiance. After beating Absolute Radiance, you’ll either get the Embrace the Void ending or the Delicate Flower ending depending on whether you gave the Godseeker’s physical body in the Junkpit a delicate flower or not.
Who is the Pure Vessel
The Pure Vessel is the prime uninfected form of the Hollow Knight. When the infection started ravaging throughout Hallownest, the Pale King and the White Lady came together to create children birthed in the Abyss to imbue them with the traits of the void. In doing so, they hope to conceive a child with no mind to think, no will to break, and no voice to cry suffering. A genuinely hollow vessel that can’t be influenced by the Radiance, someone to seal away the Radiance along with her infection.
However, the Hollow Knight wasn’t pure since they were smeared by “an idea instilled.” Most likely, this idea was formed with the bond formed with the Pale King, its father, and teacher. This is alluded to in a quick cutscene after reaching the end of the Path of Pain hidden inside the White Palace.
By the time the events in the game happen, the Hollow Knight is fully grown, significantly taller than his siblings like the Knight and Hornet. They are locked inside the Temple of the Black Egg, the entrance sealed by the three dreamers. The Radiance is banished within its mind with the infection she carries. The Hollow Knight is integral to the end of the Knight’s Journey and is present in almost all Hollow Knight endings.
The player-character meets the Hollow Knight chained up inside the Temple of the Black Egg, the arena filled with the orange mist of the infection. Breaking the chain releases it from its bindings; by doing so, you also challenge them to death. Unfortunately, you also weaker the Radiance’s control over them after damaging it enough.
They become slower and more vulnerable, failing to finish their attacks and stumbling on the floor. They even help you by repeatedly stabbing itself, just to end the neverending pain it’s been enduring for countless years. It’s an extremely sad fight, especially if you know more about the lore.
Related: Check out our complete overview of the Hollow Knight Characters.
The ending depends on what you accomplished before the fight and what you ultimately decide while inside the temple. If Hornet doesn’t help during the battle and you focus on the infection inside yourself, you gain the Hollow Knight ending. Wherein you seal the Radiance and her infection inside of the Knight, becoming the new Hollow Knight and repeating the cycle.
If Hornet helps during the fight and you choose to strike the Hollow Knight with your nail, he will swat Hornet away from his head, knocking her down unconscious. If you manage to defeat him and focus the infection inside the Knight, you will reseal the Radiance and her infection while also locking up Hornet inside. Hornet’s face appears outside the Temple of the Black egg, meaning she’s stuck inside with you. This is called the Sealed Siblings ending.
Alternatively, you enter his mind and fight the Radiance sealed inside if you use the Awoken Dream Nail while Hornet pins down the Hollow Knight. After defeating her, all the shades from the Abyss come to bind her, then the Hollow Knight’s shade appears to expose a weakness on her head. The Knight transforms into their shade to attack her until she perishes for good. Meanwhile, Hornet wakes up to find the Knight’s vessel cracked with the infection, presumably gone for good. The infected bugs of Hallownest Dream No More.
The Godsmaster update added two new endings that concern the Pure Vessel. The Godseekers was a tribe that initially came from the Land of Storms, a barren void because their gods either died or abandoned them. Thus, they traveled to Hallownest looking for the kingdom’s gods. Through an elaborate combat ritual, they seek to ascend and communicate with the gods of the land. The Pure Vessel, the Hollow Knight’s pure form in his prime, was also summoned for this ritual. Defeating the Pure Vessel lets you ascend to tango against the Absolute Radiance.
In the Embrace the Void ending, after defeating the Absolute Radiance at the very top of the Pantheon of Hallownest, the Knight transforms into a massive void entity called the Lord of Shades. They beat down Absolute Radiance until she turns into essence, then grab the Godseeker with its tendrils.
The physical body of the Godseeker leaks out the void and viscous black substances. It bursts out of her body in a violent spectacle. Meanwhile, Hornet is standing guard outside the Temple of the Black Egg when a figure dragging chains comes out of it, causing her to draw her weapon. It is presumably the Hollow Knight free from the Radiance’s influence. Now whether they’re hostile or not is left to interpretation as the scene ends right there.
Question: Is Pure Vessel harder than Nightmare King Grimm/Absolute Radiance?
Answer: It depends. Pure Vessel, Nightmare King Grimm, and Absolute Radiance are some of the most brutal boss fights in the game. However, it still relies on the strength of the player. In my own experience, I found Nightmare King Grimm the easiest of the three once it dawned on me that the fight is like a dance where you move at the same as he does, and you try to sneak in a few hits after a successful dodge. It also helps that his attacks are telegraphed, and he doesn’t use any new moves. He only becomes faster throughout the later phases.
It only took me a few tries to nail Absolute Radiance once I started treating the fight more like a platforming/obstacle challenge rather than a straightforward battle. She throws projectiles and stunts your platform with spikes, but compared to Pure Vessel, it is a more methodological encounter where you’re mostly dodging everything. After playing Celeste, I’m not sure any other platform challenge scarred me as much as that game.
Meanwhile, Pure Vessel directly interacts with you and reacts to your moves too. Unfortunately, it could sometimes feel like it comes down to RNG because his attacks aren’t telegraphed. For example, Lunge and Triple Slash have the same start-up animation, and it can mess up your timing if you don’t guess which one is coming at you. Pure Vessel was the most challenging fight for me due to its hectic and confusing pattern. The longer the conflict drags, it also gains new moves, which can throw you off if you’re not paying attention.
Question: What are the mods for Pure Vessel?
Answer: So, after reading this Hollow Knight Pure Vessel guide and beating Pure Vessel, you think it wasn’t hard enough? Here are a few mods to satisfy your masochistic nature:
• Sanic mod allows you to customize the game’s speed, your own, or your enemies. You can make the Pure Vessel faster than he already is.
• Double Vessel adds another Pure Vessel so you can fight two at the same time. Have fun dodging through all his hits and projectiles.•
• Pale Prince– Beefs up the Pure Vessel by overlapping his moveset, adding brand-new moves, and stacking up his stats (now comes with 3000 health). Phase three is complicated because of the constant barrage of javelins flying across the screen. This is one of the most demanding modded bosses fights ever created.
Question: Why doesn’t Pure Vessel have dream dialogue?
Answer: The dream nail doesn’t work on the Pure Vessel since they have no mind to think. It is immune to the dream nail, and you can’t even earn Soul since it just bounces off them. Originally, Pure Vessel had dream nail dialogue: Do not think…Do not speak…Do not hope…Do not… However, when Team Cherry was asked to clarify, they said they “never added it.”
If you break apart Pure Vessel to their fundamentals, their attacks are easy to avoid and react to. However, it spaces out their moves with speed and confusion, causing players to misjudge and misplay. Therefore, it is crucial that you take this fight slow, focus on dodging, and hit during their most extended idle times or a successful dodge.
Practice repeatedly in the Hall of Gods until you can react fast enough. When you finally beat him and overcome the Pantheon of the Knight, be prepared to fight him all over again (but stronger) during the Pantheon of Hallownest.