A Hat in Time first caught my eye when it’s funding through Kickstarter was going on. I was never a fan of platformers, but there was a certain charm to it (Plus the gameplay trailers gave me reason enough) that made me gravitate towards the game and I have been patiently waiting for this game ever since. 2017 has been a great year for gamers with a relatively niche taste and A Hat In Time is another great addition to the list of such games.
A Hat in Time is a cute-as-heck 3D platformer featuring a little girl who stitches hats for wicked powers! Freely explore giant worlds and recover Time Pieces to travel to new heights! A Hat in Time is developed by Gears for Breakfast and published by Humble Bundle for macOS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The game was released on the PC 5 October 2017 and later on the consoles on December 6 2017.
A Hat In Time
A Hat in Time is reminiscent of quite a few retro platformers/collectathons as far as mechanics go. Now don’t expect me to compare and contrast games like Mario 64/Galaxy from back in day, because I wasn’t a fan of those games back then, but now that I think about it, I will probably give them a visit once I am done with 2017’s games. This also prevents me from looking at the game with any sort of nostalgic goggles that many people tend to have towards games that are reminiscent of the glorious era of video games.
There is a sort of weirdly gratifying feeling as you control the Hat Kid throughout the small but dense world of the game. Apart from having the standard controls of a platformer, A Hat In Time does a good job with the mechanical part of the game. The lack of handholding means that you will get to discover a lot of new moves by mistake while desperately mashing buttons in order to save yourself from any kind of danger.
There are quite a number of skills that need to be learnt & mastered, and it can be a bit overwhelming to people who are not in the habit of playing platformers. It’s easy to mis-time an action, leading to the end of an almost perfect run through a platforming challenge. Thankfully the keyboard controls are assigned for human hands, as a result of which, I didn’t find myself twisting fingers to masterfully control Hat Kid.
Most of the game’s pulling factor comes from the various types of hats that can be collected which give the Hat Kid all kinds of abilities. The hats can be swapped around on the fly thanks to the time being infinitely slowed down as the Hat menu is opened. These hats can be obtained by collecting yarn that is surrounded by a sort of rainbow-ish aura which is easily noticeable even through vibrant art style of the environment. Badges, that are commonly acquired through vendors in exchange for the green diamonds (Currency) can be attached to hats to give various passive abilities.
The game isn’t pretty long, about 12-14 hours for an average play, but as has been rightly said- “Quality over quantity”. The first Chapter acts as a good tutorial for players to get warmed up to the controls and is followed by a host of a diverse memorable “open” levels that will not only intrigue you, but will also make you want to explore every nook & cranny. The level design phenomenal to say the least.
The worlds are diverse and grow larger as the game progresses. Most of the missions (Levels) are set in the same worlds and are connected through a sequence of narrative beats. That does not mean you can abandon any area just after you leave it. The game encourages you to go back to areas with newly acquired skills to open new possibilities.
Apart from the main hub worlds, the game offers extra levels in the form of “Time Rift” that follow the same gameplay loop as the main game. These ‘missions’ may make you feel like a detective because finding the locations of these rifts will be a case of- “I remember having seen this location. But where?”. Thankfully, the game’s world is not gargantuan to make the search a frustrating endeavor.
The boss designs are great; they provide a good enough challenge and depart a little from the main gameplay loop. It is something similar to Mario Odyssey in the sense that the bosses don’t have a health bar, but you have whack them up a few times while discerning their pattern. (OK now if all platformers are like that, I have no idea)
That being said, the camera controls are wonky and can get inside walls from where you can see the insides of the level design.
The story, similar to many platformers of the past, is an aspect that is mostly there just to give you a reason to push forward. It’s a simple story about Hat Kid trying to repair her ship by collecting hourglasses. Now it’s not the overall story that pulls you in, but rather, the moment to moment screenplay that brings a smile to your face. Hat Kid’s antics are simply adorable. The story beats definitely improve as the game goes on further and you are introduced to a variety of interesting characters who have some or the other reason to keep Hat Kid away from the hourglasses.
Its occasional nudges at dark humor in the cutesy vibrant world filled with seemingly light hearted characters had me going, “Wait what was that just now!?”. All of it is smartly interwoven within the story of game, a huge part of why I said that the beats improve as the story goes on. The result of having smaller worlds, and lesser padded content makes the game feel far more focused on what it’s trying to do.
Graphics & Sound
Now, we come to the part where indie games tend to be a bit underwhelming, the visuals. Yes, A Hat In Time doesn’t have the best graphics in the world, even as far as 3D-Platformers go. In spite of having an exceptional art style and vibrant color sceme, many a times you’ll run into places that probably haven’t been polished enough. This problem specially crops up at places that should be round or in places that may not be as prominent as other landmarks.
The score is pretty good and has a wide selection of tunes ranging from cutesy to bubbly to even rock. The voice acting is pretty decent with quite a bit over the top accents. Overall as a sound package, the game is great.
A Hat In Time is definitely a must play if you are a fan of platformers and is one of the rare Kickstarter successes. The variety in levels, the goofy nature, the soundtrack, the mechanics, all warrant a purchase if you can overlook some of the minor problems. As I said, Hat Kid is a pleasure to control and her antics can bring a genuine smile to even the coldest of gamers.