A Hat in Time Review
A Hat In Time is a 3D platformer which has you take control of an unnamed protagonist. While on her way home in her spaceship, she encounters the mafia who want a toll since she is travelling through their territory. Unfortunately, a scuffle occurs and as a result her time pieces, hour glasses which act as fuel for her ship, are sucked into space landing across various planets in the vicinity. She now has to navigate through 4 distinct worlds to reclaim her time pieces and return home.
Promotes Exploration: A Hat In Time rewards diligent players for treading off the beaten path. A Hat In Time has many numerous forms of collectibles, Pons, which are the general currency analogous to the coins in games such as Super Mario Bros. Yarn, which act as a material that allows you to synthesis new hats that grants special abilities and relics which can be constructed on your space ship.
Many chapters in A Hat In Time only require the player to explore small sections of the available world to obtain the time piece for that mission. However, due to the open world nature of each stage, the player is free to roam around to collect these items. By exploring and collecting hidden yarn and coins, the player can then use them to craft new hats or purchase new badges. Badges and hats gives the player additional passive or activatable abilities that allows the player to complete stages with less difficulty or by-pass harder sections.
Various Gameplay Styles: Whilst A Hat in Time is a predominately a platformer similar to games such as Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, it varies the gaming experience that the player will go through as they complete stages. For example, the first world is primarily typical platforming which requires the player to hit objects or switches, beat a few bad guys, or reach a specific location to obtain a time piece. The true ingenuity is how much the game expands on the traditional platformer tropes during the second world onwards. Stealth elements are slowly introduced, in one chapter the player becomes a detective and has to solve a murder on a train, in another the player will be required to sneak into a movie studio. Whilst the platforming element is still generic to both of these scenarios, this is one example of how new sub-genres are added to these smaller stages which expand upon the foundations built by the game. As you progress through the game, time rifts will also open up showing the player a snapshot of a portal located in the world. The player then has to locate that portal using the hint provided and upon finding it, the player will be transported into a “challenge world” and must complete fairly difficult obstacle courses or defeat large numbers of enemies to progress. Time rifts add an additional layer of challenge and whilst not required, give additional time pieces and collectibles to open new chapters and worlds.
Meticulous Attention To Detail: It’s hard to describe how much time the developers must have spent fine-tuning A Hat In Time to make sure the player is fully immersed. This can easily be seen with the numerous acute details littered throughout the game. The main character has many unique interactions and animations when hitting or touching certain objects. A good example is when the player does not have their weapon equipped and they punch a hard object such as a wooden crate, the player character will then hold her hand in pain and stumble about in response to hitting a solid object. Likewise, when the player trips in a viscous liquid such as oil not only is their vision obscured, their animation also changes so that their hands are darting left and right due to not being able to see properly. It’s not only the animation which has this level of detail. Many of the worlds are inhabited by numerous enemy NPCs who wish to defeat the player character. What’s unique in A Hat In Time is that not only can you beat up these NPCs, you can actually speak and interact with them. Doing so will normally give you a few details about the world you are visiting or information about their daily lives or you may just get told a corny joke. After conversing with the NPCs you could just continue to beat them up. This is a very interesting mechanic as it adds an additional layer of immersion, personality and detail to the world you are travelling through. Enemies feel like actual people instead of generic mobs to be knocked about. These are a few examples of what A Hat In Time offers, but there are many more additional details which is best to experience first-hand whilst playing.
Music: The music in A Hat In Time is phenomenal. There is a strange resemblance to the sound track of Banjo-Kazooie, which is expected considering Grant Kirkhope, a composer for Banjo-Kazooie, also worked on the main ship theme for the game. That’s not to say the rest of the music is sub-par. The music in A Hat In Time truly reflects the gameplay the player experiences. During the act in which the player needs to act as a detective, the music employed by the game is soothing and melancholic, whereas when the player has to fight a boss the music is intense and electrical. During many levels, notably the level in which you have to lead a parade, initially the festival is quiet, but as you run around new hazards appear in game such as sparks and fireworks. As each additional hazard is exposed to the player, new instruments also appear in the soundtrack to reflect the once peaceful nature of the parade and its transformation to a chaotic environment. This is also observed when near time pieces, as when you get closer the sound distorts and only a soothing melody of the piano can be heard. A Hat In Time successfully integrates a soundtrack which interacts with the gameplay, creating beautiful ensemble for the player to experience.
Story: As one might expect, the story in A Hat In Time is the weakest link. Whilst the story is good on its own, in comparison to the rest of the product it comes off a bit disappointing. The story starts off relatively strong, ending in a disagreement between the main character and Moustache girl, your partner that assisted you in taking down the Mafia syndicate. Moustache girl realises the potential of the time pieces, believing that they should use the time pieces to revert time to defeat evil, essentially becoming super heroes. The protagonist disagrees and this leads to each character going their own separate ways each to pursue their own ideals. Whilst it started off strong, the plot relatively dies down after that, each world has its own “over-arching plot” but is predominantly self-contained.
A Hat In Time is an excellent 3D platformer which emulates the qualities that made classics such as Super Mario 64 and Spyro the Dragon extremely successful. The art, music and gameplay elements of A Hat In Time are all exceptional. The game is extremely polished and causes no problems for the player. The story, whilst not the most engaging, is still satisfactory but is the drawback of the game. Despite that, A Hat In Time is definitely a masterpiece that should be experienced by all.
A Hat In Time was developed by Gears for Breakfast and published by Humble Bundle. It was released for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One [reviewed] on October 5th, 2017 (PC) and December 6th, 2017 (PlayStation 4/Xbox One). A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.