‘A Hat in Time’ is a flood of enchanting colours, quests and characters via a bubbly nostalgic platforming backdrop. This game would without a doubt be a classic like ‘Banjo Kazooie’ had we met in in 1999. There is so much to this game that is just fantastic.
The gameplay is bouncy and fluid. As you platform your way about lavishly filled maps, you do so with ease and fun. The platforming feels so smooth, you gently glide from one location to the next, never frustrated on your journey. You can jump, swing, shoot, climb (you make the cutest noise when you climb) around brilliant places such as ‘Mafia Town’ or ‘Goat Village’. What makes the platforming even more exuberant is the ‘Hat’ mechanic. As you go through the game you don different hats giving you different abilities. You can speedily zip the world on scooter, sporting your speedy cap, or blast your way there with your witches’ hat. There is an almost Majora’s Mask feel to the game with these different abilities. Of course, lacking the horrifying existential burdening experience of putting on a mask.
And that’s truly what makes this game brim with personality, this fruitful fusion of new and old. The pigments whilst bright and peppy meld into a classic Platformer archetype. It looks like Mario 64 but also plays similar, sharing this fantastic puzzle-bound ground. I found myself selecting missions with glee, ever excited to explore the new world and destination I’d be rocketing my way through. Like a traditional Platformer, there are specific quest objects you must collect (in this case shinning hour glasses), and it is fun to get them. Often such fetch missions are laborious. But in the case of ‘A Hat in Time’ they are super fulfilling. It’s what makes a Platformer oh so fun. Not just the level design, but the incentive to go out and explore your surroundings.
But don’t get me wrong, the level design is also OH SO FUN. Hopping across lava scorched mountain pinnacles, ziplining ABOVE cloud laden skies and entering quasi dream realms of blue and white, this game has it all. Mind you there is a terrifying mission of hide and seek in a haunted forest. That was not fun! You must hide under beds and tables as a terrifying she-witch stalks the floors eager for your blood. I was honestly scared. Platformer to Horror in a split- second!
Survive the experience I did. And that leads me to the story. It’s interesting. Which isn’t something you can normally say about a game where you jump off and on things. You play the most endearing girl with a top hat on head, who loses these magical hour glasses which can turn back time. You must reclaim them, of course, but there is an interesting twist quite early in the adventure. You meet a moustached girl who likes you and of whom you, the player, bond with. She wants you to use the hour glasses to go back and cripple the ‘bad guys’. But you refuse. How often does the protagonist refuse to aid in the pursuit of a good deed?
The game, as much as it can, exposes you to these characters you just can’t label good or bad. At times you may say narcissistic, egoistic, jealous, vengeful, power-hungry, attention seeking. But, as we see first-hand in the final mission, you can’t simply lump them together as good or bad. In fact, sometimes, those with good intentions can make bad decisions… Ok I’ll stop. But COME ON. That’s a lot of depth for playing as a 4-year-old in a top hat!
To conclude ‘A Hat in Time’ is a joyous nostalgic platforming ride. With unique rememberable characters and a jungle of jubilant puzzle ridden maps,’ A Hat in Time’, had it been published 20 years ago, would be a ‘timeless’ classic.