Kickstarted games have a history of not meeting expectations, from Mighty No. 9 to Yooka-Laylee. Thankfully this doesn’t apply to A Hat In Time, a 3D Platformer taking inspiration from the Nintendo 64’s greatest platformers. A Hat In Time differs as worlds share few similarities, feeling like it’s unsure of what it truly wants to be. However, it also makes each world a uniquely different adventure, keeping it fresh and exciting as you never know what’s next.
The game opens as Hat Kid wakes up to another day on her way home in her spaceship. Disaster soon strikes, as a man from the Mafia appears outside her window and demands she pay a toll as her ship is considered a boat. The window soon breaks as Hat Kid, alongside her 40 hourglasses which fuel the ship, falls from space. It’s enough to give you a purpose and sets the tone for the game, an absurd adventure.
A Hat In Time follows the Super Mario 64 formula with a hub world, in this case, a spaceship, connecting each of the game’s worlds. It’s a small area that feels too compact and lacking in detail like that of Peach’s Castle or Isle Delfino. Locked worlds require hourglasses to progress, A Hat In Time’s star equivalent.
Hats play a key part, as you’d probably expect from a game called A Hat In Time, with each hat offering different abilities. The original hat points you to the level’s objective, while the Witch hat allows you to throw explosive potions. Unlocking hats is done by finding yarn throughout the level then crafting the hat of your choice.
Additionally, some levels require green orbs to open, acting like notes from Banjo Kazooie. These orbs are easy to collect, are found everywhere, and seem to respawn as you return to a level. The orbs main purpose is to purchase badges. Badges are modifiers and abilities that can change many factors, such as a badge that makes you die in a single hit (for those who seek an additional challenge) or turn your sprint into a scooter.
The responsive and precise platforming is easily the greatest part of A Hat In Time as you double jump, leap forward, run up a wall and explore. The camera wasn’t ever a focal point, as it adjusted throughout leaving platforming as the focus.
Each world and level is varied, offering many different scenarios. Mafia Town is the first world you visit, which is a coastal village surrounding a volcano which holds up an Italian restaurant in the sky. It’s formed from a chaotic combination that often feels like a mess of ideas that never quite fit together.
The second world is a Movie Studio and is an easy improvement, featuring 3 very distinct types of levels which all have vastly different goals, such as stealth focused level through a studio or a dangerous timed run through an exploding train. The Subcon Forest is a horror-themed world complete with a demon forcing contracts and a haunted mansion providing a sense of dread as you are hunted by a terrifying ghost.
Alpine Skyline is unlike the rest of the game as it’s a large connected world featuring a jaw-dropping opening as you fly through the clouds into the mountains above. Smaller sections found here feel like levels themselves as you ascend a windmill, or climb a lava covered “cake”.
The varied levels and worlds found in A Hat In Time show a mix of really great ideas and some that don’t hit their mark. Every minute I spent in Alpine Skyline was a blast, feeling like a combination of everything good about 3d platformers. It was an adventure exploring the mountain peaks where each area took advantage of the mechanics and abilities, from riding across the skies using the Hookshot to exploring a mystical temple using a ghostly ability from a hat found in Subcon Forest. Some levels had an uninteresting hook, such as in the Subcon forest you deliver mail or in the movie studio where you lead a parade. Luckily there are so many great levels that they don’t take from what the game does well.
Boss encounters are challenging, often requiring precision and patience to conquer. Generous checkpoints help avoid frustration as the fights are never over quickly, offering many phases and attacks to watch out for. Each fight is very different but each is visually identifiable when a boss is damageable by a blue glow, the game even references this fact during a boss fight.
The game also has hidden time rifts which are very similar to Super Mario Sunshine’s “secret” levels, focusing on pure platforming. These are far easier then what Sunshine had, and aren’t a requirement to complete the game. You are given a photo of the location where it’s hidden before entering a level to find it. You better hope you remember where it is though, as the only way to see the photo is to go to the level select screen. They are never too hidden but can be frustrating if you simply forget where it was.
A Hat In Time doesn’t attempt to innovate or change the 3D Platformer. What it offers is tight responsive platforming with different levels around every corner. It’s problems never ruin the experience as the usual feeling of fun is overwhelming. A Hat In Time has challenging bosses and worlds worth exploring in a game you’ll find hard to put down.
7 out of 10 – Great
Written By Mitchell Booth
Reviewed on PC
Available on PC, Xbox One and PS4