A Hat in Time is an incredibly fun and incredibly charming throwback to classic collect-a-thon platformers. While it has some visual issues and a sometimes wonky camera, none of these issues can stop A Hat in Time from being an adorably fun time.
A Hat in Time
Developer: Gears for Breakfast
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
MonsterVine was provided with a PS4 code for review
Games like Banjo Kazooie and Spyro the Dragon feel like relics of another time (and really, at this point in time they could be). While the collect-a-thon 3D platformer has seen the beginnings of a revival recently thanks to games like Yooka-Laylee, the genre is nowhere near as lucrative as it was in the mid to late 1990’s. Perhaps this scarcity is all the better for modern entries in the genre like A Hat in Time, as the itch for this type of game compliments the quirky and fun experience that the game so cheerfully gives off.
In A Hat in Time you play as Hat Kid, a suitably named young girl who wears a tophat. An unfortunate accident leads to Hat Kid’s stash of Time Pieces (hourglasses that can distort time) scattering across a nearby planet. While competing with the also aptly-named Mustache Girl to find the Time Pieces, Hat Kid has to battle mafiosos, ghosts, birds, and haunted toilets. It’s a simple story that is more than sufficient for the cutesy world of A Hat in Time, as it gives the game an excuse to introduce you to as many weird and wonderful characters as possible.
The characters of A Hat in Time are its strongest feature, as they can easily stand alongside iconic genre characters like Banjo’s Mumbo Jumbo or Spyro’s Moneybags. Both in design and personality, the figureheads of each stage are exceptionally well-designed. My personal favorite character is Snatcher, the sinister and entertaining ghost-boss who has a penchant for making one-sided contracts to take others’ souls. While the voicework by the entire cast is fantastic, Snatcher stands out for the amount of sheer personality Luke Sizemore (Snatcher’s VA) gives him. Intimidating, goofy, and sinister tones are all present at different times, making for a truly stand-out character. The stages have just as much personality as their bosses. Each level oozes with the same charisma the characters have, and while some are definitely more fun than others, the levels are overall enjoyable with a great amount of visual variety.
“Whether it’s enhanced speed, explosive projectiles, or even slowed-time, each hat provides Hat Kid with a distinct new ability that can be used to find new secrets.”
A Hat in Time’s gameplay is a lot of fun overall, though it has a couple issues here and there that can hinder things on occasion. The main gameplay mechanic that A Hat in Time is built on is the abilities that different hats give you. Whether it’s enhanced speed, explosive projectiles, or even slowed-time, each hat provides Hat Kid with a distinct new ability that can be used to find new secrets. Each hat can also be powered up through “badges”, which are essentially abilities or perks that can be pinned onto your hat. There’s a good variety of badges to complement the already diverse abilities of each hat. The different hats and badges, when combined, add a great amount of depth to the game that make it more than a basic platformer.
The platforming of A Hat in Time is simple and fun to mess around with. Like in titles like Super Mario Sunshine or Super Mario 64, there are lots of techniques outside of running and jumping that can be used to reach your goal. Combining jumps with dives and wall slides can be the key to getting hidden items or distant collectibles, which allows for some experimentation. It’s a perfectly stable system that is simple enough to learn while packing enough depth to be fun for players with different levels of experience.
“There are also a great deal of color schemes that change your appearance entirely, which is another nice way to make Hat Kid your own.”
The amount of customization available in A Hat in Time is quite remarkable. Each hat has a variety of different variants that can be unlocked, ranging from simple pattern changes to entirely different hat models. There are also a great deal of color schemes that change your appearance entirely, which is another nice way to make Hat Kid your own.
The primary issue with A Hat in Time’s gameplay is the camera. While it’s typically fine, the camera can often get caught on or behind items when in tight spaces. You can still see the outline of Hat Kid and important objects on the screen, but it’s still frustrating to mess up a jump or to fall off a platform because you can’t see all of a sudden. It’s not game-breaking, but it’s frustrating nonetheless.
A Hat in Time’s visuals are pleasant as well, though they feel a bit too simplistic, even with their more cartoony style. While the colors and characters all have great designs, it’s the overall quality that feels somewhat underwhelming. Facial textures feel flat, character models are somewhat simplistic, and there isn’t a lot of variety in terms of enemies in each level. The theming is still strong enough to carry the visual side of A Hat in Time, but I do wish the models and textures were a bit more polished.
A Hat in Time has fantastic music and voicework. Alongside the previously mentioned stand-outs, essentially every NPC has their own voices, often of YouTube/NewGrounds alumni like Mick Lauer, Josh Tomar and Jon Jafari. It’s cool to hear recognizable voices from around the internet, and none of the voices feel shoved in or forced. The music is largely memorable and fitting of the levels each song accompanies. And I’d like to give a special shout-out to Snatcher’s boss theme. (Snatcher could very well be the best part of the game overall).
The Final Word
A Hat in Time is a fun and charming return to form for the 3-D collect-a-thon platformer genre. While the camera and visuals can feel a bit underdeveloped, A Hat in Time makes up for this with its solid gameplay and gallons of charm.
MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good