Of all the creepy critters that roam the land of Hallownest, Nosk is undoubtedly one of the most mysterious. If you’ve ever been casually going around the most intensely horrifying area in the game, Deepnest, you’ve likely seen someone walking around that looks just like you. But, if you’re like me, curiosity takes over, and you find its den.
Nosk is an optional boss; I didn’t fight it until I was near the end of the game, yet you can also battle it near the very beginning. The mystery of who the strange doppelganger was came to mind while I was doing my endgame mop-up, and I had to find out what it was about. I explored aimlessly around Deepnest for a while because, unfortunately, the boss is tricky to find and even trickier to fight. So if you need help, this guide is for you.
Nosk Hollow Knight Guide: Bottom Line Up Front
Nosk is found most easily by heading left from the tram in Deepnest until you hit a wall, then breaking that wall open. The boss can be highly aggressive and takes good maneuvering, but a decent spot to hang out in if you’re panicking is the left corner next to the raised bit of land. Before fighting this boss, you should have nail upgrades and some decent charms.
- Boss Location: Deepnest
- Optional: Yes
- Requirements: Access to Deepnest, Monarch Wings, Lumafly Lantern, Mantis Claw
- Length of Boss: 30 Minutes
- Difficulty: Medium
The Stats of Nosk
- 680 Health (Does not change with nail upgrades)
- All Attacks do 1 Mask of Damage
- Attacks with The Infection
- 4 Unique Attacks
- Dies to 130 Old Nail Hits (76 Sharpened Nail hits, 52 Channeled Nail hits, 40 Coiled Nail hits, 32 Pure Nail hits)
Nosk: The Shapeshifting Impostor
A bug that can change form and is infected, we know very little about Nosk other than it has claimed many victims in the past, including some of your brethren. Having killed other bugs that look just like you, it can use their husks and your memories to shapeshift into an identical copy of you.
While everything surrounding Nosk may be a mystery, we can extrapolate that it used to be a very aggressive and intelligent predator, using the faces of its previous victims to lure in more bugs into its den, killing them once they fall for its trap.
You probably encountered it by just heading into Deepnest from any direction, as the game funnels you into its labyrinth, where it will constantly show itself to you, just out of reach. So let’s delve into the lion’s den and defeat this shifty foe.
The First Encounter
If you entered Deepnest via the sudden drop just outside the entrance to the Queen’s Gardens in the Fungal Wastes, you have seen Nosk’s introduction, where it mysteriously appears as a clone of you and lures you further into its den.
Until you drop into the hot spring, you’re just navigating a maze where it will taunt you by being just out of reach, and whenever you get to where it was, it mysteriously disappears. But, of course, every way into Deepnest converges on the room that houses the entrance to its lair, so let’s cover how to get into this boss fight.
Right to the left of the Hot Springs, you’ll find the Nosk Fight entrance right here on the map.
You can reach this area several ways, but the easiest is taking the tram from the Ancient Basin or coming in from the unlocked door after your bout with the Mantis Lords. You could also take the falling pit from inside the Fungal Wastes.
You’ll have to climb up a ledge and break open the wall to get inside. This is practically the only reason the Monarch Wings are required; you need to be able to gain the height to get up here.
Otherwise, the route to the Nosk den is relatively simple, you go down where it leads you, and then you’ll hit a dead end. This means you need to find the breakable wall around the upper left of this room.
Continue left, where you’ll find the impostor knight again, directly underneath you. You can keep heading left and then double back to where it was, and of course, it will mysteriously disappear.
You can keep going down this route, heading to the left for some free geo after a slight drop, then at the very bottom, breaking down the wall to continue forward and picking up the geo cluster here.
You’ll see the faker looking up towards something, and if you look up, you’ll notice the wall is too steep to jump over, requiring the use of the Mantis claw for the only time in this entire segment. I think these Mantis Claw and Monarch Wings gates were set up to discourage players from doing this boss earlier since it gets tricky.
After heading to the right for a little while, you’ll see the doppelganger running to the left underneath you. Naturally, following him and going where he’s going will lead to the boss, but you can wall jump up to the right to find a breakable wall, which makes a convenient shortcut if you ever come back here.
Heading down through the winding caverns and caves will lead to one last screen transition before a long tunnel with doors closing behind you. Once you’re in here, you’re stuck unless you fight your way out, so be aware there is no going back after this screen unless you either win or lose. Your shade will spawn inside the boss arena, so you won’t get your stuff back until you win.
The Lore of Nosk
“In the deepest darkness, there are beasts who wear faces stolen from your memories and pluck at the strings in your heart. Know yourself, and stay strong.” – A quote from the Hunter’s Journal on Nosk.
Knowing your enemy is half the battle, but it looks like we’re only going in with some basic knowledge. Every bug on the path leading up to Nosk spouts thoughts of denial when you hit them with the Dream Nail. Most say things such as “…No…” or “…My Face…” It seems that no bug who’s ever come into contact with Nosk has ever met a pleasant end.
Nosk is one of the most mysterious bosses in Hollow Knight. It doesn’t say anything when hitting it with the Dream Nail, nor is there much text or dialogue about it. The mystery of Nosk is supposed to pull you into fighting it in the first place, as its strategy is to intrigue its prey by copying their form, then luring them into its den.
We can extrapolate that through some of the bugs on the path saying, “…You were dead..?” or “…Brother…” and the Flying Nosk boss fight in the Hall of Gods, it can also read memories and take the form of someone you know and love. This is even scarier than just copying your form, as it can copy the form of anyone you know.
This room is tucked away in an already incredibly unnerving cave filled with the corpses of Nosk’s last victims. Chief among them are the Vessels it lured in before several other enemies tormenting us through all of Deepnest and us. Just imagining what this thing would have been like if it wasn’t infected is terrifying.
This boss seems like it was an incredible predator in its time. The ability to not only read your memories and mimic either you or someone you know who may even be dead is a terrifying ability for a deadly hunter like this to have. It has claimed many victims, so the only thing you can do is prepare and hope you won’t be the next one.
The Best Charms for Nosk
As I’ve mentioned, Nosk is optional but requires the Monarch Wings and Mantis Claw, meaning you should be hovering somewhere around the mid-game before fighting him.
I assume you have the City of Tears at least somewhat unlocked and have explored most of the Fungal Wastes, Greenpath, and Forgotten Crossroads, as well as a few other areas that you have access to at this point.
- Sharp Shadow (2 Notches) can make this fight easier if you already have the shade cloak. If you have it, then get this charm. This fight will be more difficult but still doable if you don’t.
- Fragile Heart and Fragile Strength (2 Notches and 3 Notches) are both objectively great, but they come with the drawback of breaking every time you die. You can quickly get them back from Leg Eater in the Fungal Wastes, but that requires walking back and forth every time you want to retry the fight, and that’s no fun. (Plus, it costs a fortune.)
- Longnail or Mark of Pride (2 Notches or 3 Notches) increase the Knights nail range, a godsend in this fight where a large enemy constantly rushes you. I’d recommend Mark of Pride since it dramatically increases your capacity. While you could equip both, the benefit of that is barely noticeable. It can also easily be found in the Mantis Village after defeating their elders.
- Shaman Stone (3 Notches) is commonly regarded by Hollow Knight fans as the best charm in the game, and for a good reason. It will grant you significant damage buffs to your spells, which you should try to use throughout the fight. It is easily bought from Salubra in the Forgotten Crossroads.
More Optional, Dependant on Playstyle
- Spore Shroom (1 Notch) is typically pretty useless, but in this fight, you’ll have several chances to heal by hanging out in the left corner next to the raised bit of ground, and Nosk will run over that area constantly. You can get in quite a bit of damage every time you heal. It is found in the Fungal Wastes, which most players find by accident.
- Dashmaster (2 Notches) resembles the funny skeleton from a different indie game about exploring the underground. It reduces the cooldown on using your dash ability. It’s resting by the statue of the Dashmaster in the Fungal Wastes. You can also use this in combination with Sharp Shadow to further increase your dash’s damage.
- Fury of the Fallen (2 Notches) is found in the first area of the game, the King’s Pass, and increases your damage when you’re low on health. If you’re comfortable with playing on just a tiny margin of health, this can dramatically increase the efficacy of your hits.
- Dreamshield (3 Notches) can dish out some stray hits while you’re healing or running away from the boss. It may be expensive, but if you play exceptionally defensively, this could be the charm for you.
You should go with whatever build of charms you like, but if you have some slots open after grabbing your must-haves, then go for one of the charms on this list that you don’t already have.
You should also get a nail upgrade or two before this. You can find the Nailsmith at the bottom right of the City of Tears, and getting these upgrades will massively increase the damage your nail is doing and the passive damage some of your charms can do.
My Build with only 6 Charm Notches
- Sharp Shadow
- Mark of Pride
- Spore Shroom
While more notches are certainly accessible at this point, this is the bare minimum I would use for this fight. If you only have a few notches, I’d recommend going out and finding more before taking on Nosk.
The Fight with Nosk
Once you reach its den, you’ll notice many different bugs being hung, all the victims of this shapeshifting monstrosity. It looks just like you until you walk up to it, where it will suddenly crack and horrifyingly reveal the rest of its shadow body.
It resembles all the huge spiders you’ve already seen in this area, but it will also pack quite the punch. It will aggressively charge at you constantly, jump around the arena, spit huge globs of infection, and rain down a massive wave of toxic balls of infected goop.
It would be best if you only came into this fight once you’ve got the charms and nail upgrades to deal enough damage and evade attacks before this erratic and aggressive movement spells your doom.
The Safety Zone
For most of this fight, you’ll want to hang out in this corner to the left of the raised bit of ground. This rocky corner might not seem extremely safe, but it’s the zone where Nosk is least likely to attack with any of its four moves. Keep in mind it will cycle through these four moves randomly, so be prepared for any of them.
If you’re panicking, I’d recommend trying to remember to run back here and hide as you heal. There are still attacks you need to look out for that can hit you here, but they all require just a bit of reaction time and knowledge on what exactly to do.
Nosk will often screech, which is its major tell as to what it will do next. If it lets out a short screech, it will charge directly toward you, which is the only attack that can hit you once you’re positioned to the left of the raised bit of ground. If you see this coming, quickly jump up on the platform, wait for it to charge, and pogo off it to safety.
This strategy, more or less, guarantees you will not get hit while also bringing in some free damage. The only problem with this is that it requires decent reaction times. Remember that the sound cue will always be easier to react to, so if you hear the screech, expect a charge. You can also counter this with a Desolate Dive if you have the soul for it.
If Nosk crouches a bit and does not screech, then it is preparing to jump. It will usually only jump to get around the arena quicker, but sometimes it will directly jump at you. If it jumps at you, dash away quickly to avoid the attack, but if you’re in the corner, you should be almost entirely safe from this attack.
Use this as an opportunity to slash upwards at it and get in a few hits if you duck into the safety zone in time. It will typically land directly above you and sit there for about a second, letting you get one or two attacks before it leaps away. This is an excellent chance to use Howling Wraiths. I’ve had it sometimes land perfectly on top of me, but this is rare. If you manage to see this coming, then dash forward under it.
If Nosk runs to the center of the arena, it is about to use its eruption attack, which spews out big globs of infection all over the arena. Do not try to attack Nosk during this move, as that will likely lead to you taking damage. These globs rarely ever hit you while in the safe spot, but do note that they’ll stick around for a little bit before disappearing.
As you can see, standing in this little corner will let you dodge almost every attack it can throw at you, though sometimes I’ve been put in the precarious spot of having one of the globs of infection right next to me when here, you can usually get out of the situation by jumping up, dashing out, or just waiting. If you really want damage, I recommend jumping up and firing your Vengeful Spirit before quickly ducking back down.
One of the only exceptions to this safety zone is when Nosk buries itself into the ceiling to rain down globs of infection all over the arena. You are likely to get hit by at least some of this when just standing still, so run around the arena and dodge each ball of infection by dashing or changing direction. The dust particles on the ceiling show you where Nosk is and where it will drop globs next.
You can hit Nosk while it has burrowed into the ceiling, but this isn’t the wisest thing. You can only do it with specific charm abilities, such as the Dream Shield, but that does minor damage, and you’re likely to get hit by trying to focus on damaging it instead of dodging.
How to Get Hits on Nosk
Nosk has quite a large amount of health, and you won’t be able to hit it often. So it would be best if you were only going for hits every time it leaps and misses you or while pogoing off it when it charges you. Otherwise, it’s best to take the fight slowly but surely and make every hit count. Of course, you can use your spells throughout this fight, but if you want extra damage, you should probably go for nail hits almost exclusively and save your soul for healing.
If you don’t care about taking damage, you could try for some riskier hits. The ceiling hits work, but you can also try and hit it while it’s spitting during its eruption attack. Just be aware it usually spits harmful infection, then quickly transitions into another attack, so you only have a tiny window of time to do this.
The fight is just as simple as that. Just waiting in the corner, making sure you recognize its tells, and not letting it hit you as you get some stray hits in and stay mostly safe from anything it throws at you.
You will have defeated the creepiest of crawlies within a few minutes, earning your reward by moving on to the right. This boss drops a skull identical to yours when you die, so you can knock that around with your nail for a bit before leaving if you want to forget the horrifying experience you just went through.
The only reward you get from defeating Nosk is another entry in your hunter’s journal and a Pale Ore. While this may seem like a small reward, note that this boss is optional.
Locking anything more behind it would mean making it practically required. And a Pale Ore is nothing to scoff at, either. You can use this Pale ore on your next nail upgrade, and the ore itself is tough to come by.
Questions and Answers
Question: How do I find the duplicate knight in Deepnest?
Answer: Follow where the faker leads you, then break open a wall on the left for an optional boss.
Question: How do I beat the Nosk boss in Hollow Knight?
Answer: You can stick to the corner on the left side of the raised bit of ground in the boss arena to be shielded from most attacks.
Question: What do I need to fight Nosk in Hollow Knight?
Answer: You need the Monarch Wings and Mantis Claw to enter the arena. It would be best if you got a nail upgrade and some charms for better movement.
Nosk is a brutal fight in Hollow Knight if you don’t understand how to best deal with its attacks. Once you find the safe zone of the battle, though, it becomes a simple game of just avoiding the few attacks that can actually reach you and not much else.
The globs of infection it leaves on the floor can be dangerous, and if you don’t have great reaction times, you might have to tank some damage in this fight. Otherwise, this encounter will likely not cause you much trouble at all with this knowledge.