In an age where most people on their games consoles spend the majority of their time swearing angrily at other players, either by expending large amounts of virtual bullets or putting virtual ball’s in nets / over goal lines its nice to find a game like A Hat in Time. You play Hat Kid, an adorable little girl who some how owns a spaceship who gets ambushed while flying past a strange planet and ordered to pay a toll. One thing leads to another and Hat Kid gets blown out into space along with all the time pieces that fuel her spaceship and she must fight to get them back from the crazy locals from the planet below.
A Hat in Time is a 3D platformer reminisicent of Mario N64, developers Gears for Breakfast cite Super Mario Sunshine as an influence, but I haven’t played that so you’ll have to tell me, whether its the case or not but it does chime back to the golden age of the 3D platformer of which Nintendo are the undisputed master, undisputed until A Hat In Time came along that is. I’ll nail my colours to the mast in this review, I LOVE THIS GAME! Its charming, creative, cute and has enough variety in and difficulty to keep you constantly engaged. The game does wonderous things with its tone, there are 4 major environments to visit and each one has its own tone, feel and different enemies and even style. In the first world you’re in a maffia controled town and you get to grips with the mechanincs and then rather quickly escalates to a challenging battle with a Mafia boss, and then it goes off into a movie studio with Owl and Penguin rivalry then some horror out of the middle of nowhere, and then a giant open world in the freaking sky!
Hat-Kid is cute as heck, she has mystical and magical powers that change depending on which hat she’s wearing. You will find magical yarn lying around the various maps that you can use to unlock and make new hats, I recommend spending a bit of time getting all the hats because it really does help later in the game. She lands on the planet and immediatley makes freinds with a local freedom fighter Moustache Girl, with who you team up with to kick the backside of the local mafia and all is going well until you are sat talking to Moustache Girl on your space ship discussing the plan to fight the mafia and out of the blue she suggests liquifying them all in a blender! It all heads south when she realises the secret power of the Time Pieces and decides she’d prefer it if she had them instead of you.
What this game does so well, is it has an innocence about the whole thing but has just enough sinister undertone and intrigue to pique your interest but never lose that cute facacde and up beat feel. Its the kind of thing I wish games would do more often, after playing A Hat In Time one evening, i went through the Store on my Xbox One to try and find something similar, and the closest I could really see was the dissapointing Yooka-Laylee and very little else, certainly not anything exciting on the indie market and AAA will rarely touch something like this, because it doesn’t have what AAA considers sexy and Indie developers wont go near it because it isnt another F@#&^$g Side Scroller!!!! It there fore sits alone in the Xbox Store, peerless ashining bastion that Games fundamentally have to be fun and excited. A beacon that good gameplay, decent story and a clear vision of what game you are trying to build are pretty much all you need to make a really good game.