There has been a string of platformers that have been released these past few years, all to a mix of positive and negative reviews. I think that it can be really challenging to balance the nostalgia of a Nintendo 64/GameCube platformer with gameplay that is acceptable by today’s standards. With that in mind, I was a little worried about what my experience would be while playing A Hat in Time. Luckily, A Hat in Time is one of those nostalgic platformers that hits all the right nostalgia buttons while delivering a fun and challenging game experience.
One of the best things that A Hat in Time does is bring wonderful, colorful characters to life. It starts with our heroine, Hat Kid. Hat Kid is just a typical kid on a spaceship who loses her fuel when a Mafia member breaks open the window of her spaceship. Pretty simple, right? Ok, so the story is a bit goofy. But it is goofy enough to make things interesting and funny. The antagonist is not your typical character. I don’t want to spoil too much, but let’s just say that the villain, Mustache Girl (yes, she has a mustache), has motives that would make you second guess if she is a true villain. There are subtle characterizations, like the one with Mustache Girl, that keeps the story from getting too kooky. Of course, you have some other strange characters, but they still add to the fun and charm of the game.
A Hat in Time is a true 3D platformer. Throughout 5 different worlds, Hat Kid runs, jumps, and dashes over buildings, sneaks around studios, and fights through forests. The worlds are very colorful and distinct, with opportunities to return to different stages to hunt for more fuel (in the form of hourglasses). There are a few 2D areas in the game that are challenging and very fun. Mustache Girl is seen through the game, but you have other villains to fight.
We can’t forget about the Hat, can we? Throughout the game, you will collect different pieces of yarn that can be turned into different hats. Of course, each hat you make will do something a little different. One hat that is available early on is the Witch’s Hat. That hat allows Hat Kid to throw potions as grenades. This particular hat can destroy boxes which block the path to other areas. This hat, along with many others, help change the gameplay. The different hats and the level designs prevent the game from becoming too tedious as you replay areas. There are plenty of hourglasses to find, so exploration and replaying levels are all part of the experience.
I need to point out that the camera work needs some attention. For whatever reason, recent 3D platformers can’t quite get the camera right. You will constantly be adjusting the camera angle as you platform through the stages. This is nothing new to the genre, but I wanted to point it out. The good news is the camera will manually adjust fairly quickly.
The game looks incredible. It is very charming, colorful, and bustling with things to see and do. The color scheme matches very well with the theme of the level and fits with the wild and kooky story. Each area is distinct, which makes Hat in Time a joy to look at while you play. The voice acting is pretty funny, and I appreciate the fact that voices were added to this game (something that doesn’t always happen with Kickstarter funded platformers). Besides the great graphics and sound, there are lots of little treats for platformers. For example, a quick exploration of your ship will lead you to a computer with a text adventure. It’s a pretty short, but funny distraction from the main game, and a welcome addition to the game. Make sure to take your time to explore and find other things like relics and time distortions.
A Hat in Time is one of the better Kickstarter platformers that have come out to date. The world is colorful and full of areas to explore. The enemies are challenging, with bosses that are no pushovers. The replay value of the game is very high due to the number of areas that can be reached once you find and make appropriate hats. Overall, this is a platformer that you don’t want to miss!
Note: GameOctane Editor Ryan Welch received a code for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Large, challenging levels
Loads of Hats to make
Fun and memorable characters
Wonky camera angles