Enjoying the Charm of A Hat in Time

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Ah, man. Just where do I start at with A Hat in Time? I guess a brief history is in order. A Hat in Time is another game that is out thanks to a Kickstarter. We’re at the point where crowdfunding for video games can still be a bit hit or miss. Luckily,  this is a case of the former.

A Hat in Time is a 3D adventure game with a huge focus on collection, platforming and just being as dang cute as it can. Our story starts with Hat Kid travelling through space on her way home. Her voyage comes to a halt when a member of the nearby planet’s mafia comes knocking on her door/window.  He’s there to charge her for parking her spaceship near the planet. There’s a bit of a scuffle and all of Hat Kid’s Time Pieces, the fuel for her ship, fall to the planet below. Hat Kid sets out to recover the Time Pieces so she can continue her long journey home.

The world that A Hat in Time takes place on is split into multiple areas. The first is Mafia Town. This is an island city that is ruled by the criminals that started this whole mess. There’s also Dead Bird Studio on the moon, the creepy Subcon Forest and the beautiful Alpine Skyline . Each of these areas bring their own flavor to the game and a large cast of colorful characters. The gameplay often changes throughout these different levels to keep the game interesting. This includes solving a murder mystery at Dead Bird Studio, swinging through mountain villages in Alpine Skyline, and, of course, taking down the mafia.

During her adventures around the world, Hat Kid will persistently seek out Time Pieces to collect. Players obtain these at the end of a level and they act in a similar role to Stars from the 3D Mario titles. The tasks required to get the Time Pieces change and so do the parts of the world. This is because each area is a Chapter in Hat Kid’s adventure and there are seven Acts to each Chapter.  Every act contains a Time Piece, as well as some other secrets to unlock. There are also extra levels called Time Rifts that provide additional challenges for extra Time Pieces. These also sometimes reveal the backstory of the characters and places in the game.

A Hat in Time features 40 Time Pieces for players to collect. However, there are also other items to pick up on this adventure. Magic Yarn is one of the collectibles that players can find in the game. The yarn allows players to create new hats for Hat Kid. These hats give her new abilities. The new hats also provide players with different ways to solve the platforming puzzles in the game. Some Acts will even require specific hats before players can beat them.

Pons are another collectible in A Hat in Time. They are the local currency of the planet and the player can use them to purchase additional badges. Hat Kid can wear these badges on her hat to give herself some extra abilities. My personal favorite is the grappling hook that allows Hat Kid to swing around levels with ease. Others include summoning a moped, opening Hat Kid’s parachute to stop a fatal fall and more.

Rift Tokens are the final collectible that players will seek out in A Hat in Time. Players can use these tokens at the slot machine in Hat Kid’s spaceship. The slot machine unlocks additional content for players. This includes new color palettes for Hat Kid, different skins for hats and remixed songs. There actually aren’t enough Rift Tokens in the game to get everything from the slot machine. This is because the developers are planning to add additional areas as free DLC. They’re also allowing anyone to create levels via Steam Workshop.

The actual gameplay in A Hat in Time is incredibly solid. My first time playing the game I was astonished at how tight the controls are. There’s also just plainly a lot of polish put into the platforming. It’s very simple to get the hang of, but requires a fair amount of skill to get some of the more out-of-the-way collectibles. I was actually checking out the Super Mario Odyssey demo a few days ago and found myself thinking “this isn’t quite as smooth as A Hat in Time.” (That’s not something against Odyssey, by the way. It’s more of a testament to just how well A Hat in Time nails platforming.)

Visually speaking, A Hat in Time doesn’t compare when stacked up against modern games. That’s to be expected from an indie game on a smaller budget. However, that doesn’t mean the game isn’t a treat to look at. The world here is full of color and hard cel shading gives it a strong cartoon appearance. It’s almost like mixing Super Mario Sunshine and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The great character and world designs also contribute to the game’s overall flair. I was able to maintain a steady framerate of 60 fps during my time with the game, but this may vary depending on your rig. I do have to note that I ran into some small visual glitches during my playthrough of the game, but none were of major concern.

The audio in A Hat in Time is wonderful. The biggest part that sticks out is, surprisingly enough, the background music. Each area has a song that fits well with the visuals and helps set the mood. The sound effects also merge well with the rest of the presentation. The voice acting is good, but not great. However, this is optional and there’s even a badge to change voices into Banjo-Kazooie-style grunts.

If I haven’t already said it, A Hat in Time is a dang cute game. Hat Kid is extremely charming and the world matches her perfectly. The platforming is among the best there is and there’s plenty of content to dig into. I can’t recommend this game enough to fans of the genre, but it’s also worth a play for those that don’t typically enjoy collect-a-thons. There’s just so much whimsy and magic here that I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying their time with the game.

A Hat in Time earns 4.5 GiN Gems out of 5!

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