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Review

Review: A Hat in Time

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Kick­star­ted games cer­tain­ly haven’t got­ten the best repu­ta­ti­on over the past few years. Even with suc­cess­ful pro­jec­ts like Divini­ty: Ori­gi­nal Sin and Dar­kest Dun­ge­on, the high pro­fi­le fai­lings of Migh­ty No. 9 and Yoo­ka-Lay­lee cer­tain­ly made peop­le wary of games fun­ded using the plat­form. A Hat in Time falls into the for­mer group of good kick­star­ted games, even with it’s noti­ce­ab­le short­co­m­ings.

As with many plat­for­mers, A Hat in Time‘s sto­ry takes a back-seat to game­play. Hat Kid, a mute kid with a fit­tin­g­ly lar­ge hat, is tra­vel­ling through space in a hat-shaped space­ship. She’s soon inter­rup­ted by a mafia mem­ber attemp­t­ing to board the ship, who is unsur­pri­sin­gly try­ing to cau­se trou­ble. This leads to Hat Kid’s time pie­ces, the ship’s power source, being scat­te­red about the near­by pla­net. The set­up is brief, which means that it doesn’t take long to get to the actu­al game­play.

Hat Kid’s basic move-set resem­bles Mario’s in Super Mario 64 and Sunshi­ne, with the addi­ti­on of a dou­ble jump for more pre­ci­se plat­forming. Her dive move can also act as a trip­le jump if can­cel­led ear­ly, making lar­ge gaps easy to clear. You also acqui­re an umbrel­la ear­ly on, which is used for a basic 3-hit com­bo attack. The­se moves are respon­si­ve and the dive is fun to use, but it feels like Had Kid should have more opti­ons when it comes to move­ment wit­hout nee­ding to use hats or bad­ges.

Hats are the main gim­mick in A Hat in Time, each gran­ting a new abi­li­ty to Hat Kid. The­se ran­ge from being able to sprint to slo­wing down time. Only one hat can be worn at a time and can swit­ched out free­ly depen­ding on which power you need. Having to switch out hats just to be able to move fas­ter ends up being pret­ty irri­ta­ting after a while, sin­ce it feels like some­thing that should be avail­ab­le at all time. The dif­fe­rent powers are gene­ral­ly not used in inte­res­ting ways eit­her, making the hats feel unim­portant ins­tead of a game-chan­ging addi­ti­on.

Bad­ges also suf­fer from fee­ling poor­ly thought out. The­se give Hat Kid extra abi­li­ties sepa­ra­te from hats, such as an item magnet that sucks in near­by pick­ups. The­re also nega­ti­ve bad­ges that can be used to make the game tougher, or even add in Ban­jo-Kazoo­ie style mumb­ling ins­tead of regu­lar voice acting. The badge mecha­nic would be a nice addi­ti­on, if it wasn’t for cer­tain bad­ges that end up fee­ling necessa­ry at all times like the hookshot. As you can only equip a few bad­ges at a time, you don’t have much choice in what extra bad­ges you can wit­hout remo­ving ones that will likely be more use­ful.

Whe­re A Hat in Time suc­ceeds the most is the 4 main levels, offe­ring a varie­ty of dif­fe­rent envi­ron­ments and cha­rac­ters. Mafia Town, the first chap­ter of the game, is the most tra­di­tio­nal of the four main are­as avail­ab­le. This is whe­re you’ll learn how to con­trol Hat Kid while also mee­ting some of the recur­ring cha­rac­ters. Mafia Town is a gre­at intro­duc­to­ry level, offe­ring many dif­fe­rent methods of tra­ver­sal and items to collect.

The other three main chap­ters intro­du­ce new game­play gim­micks to set them apart from Mafia Town. The­se ran­ge from more sto­ry dri­ven seg­ments, to an ent­i­re­ly free-roam chap­ter that lets you gather time pie­ces in any order. The varie­ty shown in A Hat in Time‘s chap­ters makes each chap­ter enjoy­a­ble, but the game as a who­le feels far to brief. After collec­ting enough time pie­ces and bea­ting the final level, we had only been play­ing for around 5 hours. Collec­ting every time pie­ce, along with the majo­ri­ty of extra collec­ta­bles, added ano­t­her 5 hours.

To the game’s credit, it was an enjoy­a­ble 10 hours, but the­re real­ly nee­ded to be a coup­le of extra chap­ters to flesh things out a litt­le. Ano­t­her level simi­lar to Mafia Town would have been a wel­co­me addi­ti­on, sin­ce it has the best blend of plat­forming and sto­ry tel­ling com­pa­red to the rest.

The game’s over­all length is espe­ci­al­ly jar­ring thanks to the game’s sto­ry. As men­tio­ned ear­lier A Hat in Time‘s sto­ry isn’t too important, but it has charm. Howe­ver, the fina­le ends up hap­pe­ning see­min­gly at ran­dom, making it seem like some­thing was cut during deve­lop­ment. The final level its­elf is pret­ty good, offe­ring some of the har­dest plat­forming in the game, but the con­clu­si­on to the sto­ry is weak.

The visu­als in A Hat in Time are ano­t­her mixed bag, though the over­all visu­al style is plea­sant. In the review­ed PC ver­si­on the­re are also some occa­sio­nal per­for­mance issu­es, though the­se were infre­quent enough to not beco­me irri­ta­ting. Less infre­quent are pro­blems with the came­ra. Many times it would be facing in a direc­tion making plat­forming awk­ward, some­ti­mes even shaking for a few seconds befo­re sett­ling down. Out­si­de of the­se pro­blems the came­ra does its job, but it gets in the way more than we’d like.

Conclusion

A Hat in Time is a char­ming plat­for­mer that mana­ges to stay enjoy­a­ble for the majo­ri­ty of its, admit­ted­ly modest, sto­ry. More levels and a more inte­res­ting move­set would have been wel­co­me addi­ti­ons, but this is still worth play­ing for fans of plat­for­mers.

As we have an addi­tio­nal Steam code for the game, tell us in the comments your favo­ri­te sto­ries about time-tra­vel for a chan­ce to win a code. Givea­way ends Decem­ber 1st mid­ni­ght CET.

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