Gears for Breakfast
December 6th, 2017
A Hat in Time started as a Kickstarter and almost as soon as it hit the web it hit its goal. While it was delayed several times it finally made its way to Xbox One in December 2017. A Hat in Time was a game I was looking forward to since it released late last year. I finally had a chance to sit down and enjoy everything the little platformer adventure game had to offer. So were the delays and the Kickstarter worth the final project? Let’s dive in.
Story and Gameplay 7/10
A Hat in Time is a story about Hat Kid that comes across a planet called Mafia Town. When a man from the mafia tell her there is a toll to play she refuses and the mafia guy breaks open the window in space causing all Hat Kid’s precious Time Pieces to be landing in different areas across Mafia Town. Your job is to control Hat Kid on her journey to collect all the Time Pieces to fuel her ship so she can get home. The story is as crazy as it sounds but it works extremely well for some reason.
There is so much to explore in the 4 different areas available in this game. The best part is that the areas feel extremely and varied. The game excels at having a wide variety of cast members depending on where you are and that’s what kept me coming back for more. I loved the characters in each world and the bosses as well. DJ Grooves and The Snatcher were by far my favorite characters I encountered. I don’t know who the voice actor was for The Snatcher but he nailed it. He had me laughing every time he talked especially during his boss fight. I don’t have time to tell you every single mission but here’s a rundown of ones that really stand out: The Outhouse boss, Murder on the Owl express, The Parade, The old women’s mansion. Honestly, the list goes on every level in each area feels different bar a couple delivery missions.
The different variety of hats keeps this game interesting as well. They have different abilities ranging from running faster, making platforms appear, or even slowing down time. You can earn these by collecting yarn throughout the levels as you explore them. Speaking of collectibles there are some time rift’s in every area and any fan of Mario will be familiar with these. They are little bonus levels that really let you show off your platforming skills.
Why this game finds itself so low on the score is because of the story. The story isn’t meant to be taken serious but it’s the lack of consistency of emotion your character shows throughout the game. At the end, she sheds a tear that she has to leave but when her soul is ripped from her body? Nothing just a throwaway line about how you feel empty inside now. I just couldn’t resonate with how Hat Kid felt about meeting these wacky characters or her adventure at all except for a tear at the end because she was sad to leave.
The game looks like a cartoon and honestly feels like one too and it works so well. The background, characters, and movements are precise and only had a little frame rate drop here and there. However, it’s the facial expressions of everyone you meet that kill this score. Everyone’s eyes and mouth look like they are taped to their heads. By this I mean they don’t even look like they are part of the character just floating on their faces. It’s easy to notice and hard to stop seeing after the first cutscene. It really put a damper on everything else that makes this game so great.
Now don’t get me wrong the game looks amazing. The controls are precise and it’s really a joy to explore everything this world has to offer. What really saved this game from getting a much lower score are the cards that pop up while you are loading into a level. I would buy these things as posters and hang them around my room if I could here’s a perfect example:
They just look so well down and polished. If only they had brought that polish into the actual cutscenes we would be looking at a much higher score.
I was ready to write a review on the soundtrack/voice acting alone. It’s the best voice acting I have seen from an indie game in quite a while without the inclusion on Senua’s Sacrifice of course, which I just reviewed. I wanted more, more voice lines and more comments by The Snatcher in particular. This game nails the tone of the game with its impressive line of music and voice actors it has. I know I’m beginning to sound repetitive but that’s something this game didn’t do. Every level felt like it had its own tone and the sound helped that along.
This game deserves a playthrough just for sound alone.
The game isn’t difficult especially if you collect the slow time down hat. It’s an incredibly relaxing experience that makes it feel like you are up against hard challenges but with easy checkpoints and health pickups scattered everywhere? It’s just not. I believe that has something to do with how precise the controls are and how you can play to your strengths as a platformer or follow the regular path as a casual. Even collecting all the Time Pieces didn’t feel like a struggle.
The game does a good job in giving you a number of achievements that have nothing to do with collecting all the things or doing the story line. Half of the game’s achievements are going back to a previously played level and either doing it a different way or adding a harder challenge to the mix. It’s a good break from platformer achievements that stick to the “Beat this boss” and “Collect x amount of certain things” achievements we see so much in these kinds of games. I had a blast replaying old levels and trying to perfect them with the new challenge or do them in a new way.
]A Hat in Time is a wonderful journey of a game that deserves a playthrough for people who love platformers. Despite the problems, I had with this game I really did enjoy it the whole way through and really didn’t find it tasking getting every achievement because I wanted to get every achievement. My advice to you is to play this game, if not that go find some videos of The Snatcher and I know you will want more too.