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A Hat In Time Rapid Review

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Fast Facts

Title: A Hat In Time
Developer: Gears For Breakfast
Publisher: Humble Bundle
Genre: Adventure, Action, Platformer
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 18/10/2019
Price: £25.19 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.

Kickstart has been used to fund the development of numerous games in recent years.  Sometimes this works out for the best and you get classics such as Shovel Knight and FTL: Faster Than Light.  Other times you get games like Mighty Number Nine, the less said about that the better.  On which side does A Hat In Time fall on?  Let’s find out.

Collect-a-thons are a strange beast when it comes to video games.  Almost always they’re platform/adventure games, usually comprised of multiple bright and varied worlds filled with different items to collect.  Think of games such as Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64, A Hat In Time is no different.  These are spread out over the games five acts (levels), as well as the two DLC levels.  Before you think there isn’t much content in this game, the five levels are just the start of it.

Much like the classic Super Mario 64, when you select a level from the hub world (your ship) you then choose a “Time Piece” (the game’s main collectable) to go after thus choosing the chapter of the act you enter.  This sets up the level differently to other instances of it, this is great for adding a twist to a location you may be getting familiar with.  Now you may be asking yourself “why am I collecting Time Pieces?”, and the answer is simple…you have to.  Without giving too much away, the ship in which you (Hat Girl) glide through space in uses these Time Pieces as fuel.   You’re stuck and need to get home.  It’s a simple concept and is all you need to set up this adventure.

The worlds in this game are as varied as you’d expect from a game that echos so much of the late 90s/early 2000s platforming games.  From colourful beachside towns to movie sets to dark and eerie forests, this game covers a lot of ground.  Some choices sound bizarre on paper, but in reality, they work so well.  For example, one act is based in a movie studio that has you choosing between two different directors to help film their masterpieces.  Without any prior knowledge, after a couple of starting missions, you are thrust into a murder mystery experience on a train.  It’s so different to anything else out there, yet this game pulls it off so brilliantly.  At no time during this play-through was it easy to predict what the next missions would entail.

Platforming is the name of the game here, and A Hat In Time gives you a few different tools to go about this.  First up is your hat itself, with six main varieties (and two-act/chapter-specific ones) that bestow different abilities depending on which one is being worn.  From the ability to throw explosive vials to being able to turn into a frozen statue and perform a “ground pound” style move, this game offers a lot of different abilities with an easy to grasp concept.  There are a few different looks available through each hat too, just to add a personal flair to your game.

Next up are the badges, a nice touch as these are worn on the hat itself.  You’ll start by being able to equip one badge at a time, but as you progress and collect more timepieces you’ll eventually be able to equip three at once.  These give you special abilities, akin to the hats, but are usually augmentations to existing skills.  For example, you’ll be able to equip a badge that allows you to see where certain collectables are hiding; one that’ll automatically attract collectables, and one that’ll let you power up your normal melee attack to a more powerful charged version.  These help you vary up how you tackle each level, and they fit perfectly with this style of game.

The visuals of this game are bright and colourful and have a certain charm that just fits so perfectly with this style of game.  Each world is varied and has its own unique feel, it’s a beautiful and cute game.  Sometimes the overuse of certain enemies in a level can become a little bit monotonous as they usually all look the same, which is a bit of a downer as you’ll be spending a while in each act before you fully complete it.  However, the gorgeous soundtrack and hilarious animations make up for it.  Almost everyone speaks in this game, which is a pleasant surprise, and there is certain humour that just can’t help but make you crack a smile.  The atmosphere of each level is captured brilliantly, to the point that even with all its cute visuals the haunted house level is downright unnerving and scary.

It’s hard to criticise this game, the developers have poured so much love into it and through its many iterations that love has been given back by fans.  Performance issues are this versions major downfall though, although addressed in patches, this game suffers from long loading times and frame rate drops.  When jumping on Hat Girl’s scooter (your alternative mode of transport around levels), it can feel as though the game has entirely frozen as you bring out your two-wheeled racer.  The loading screens are pretty to look at for sure, the artwork is fantastic and colourful, but just not something you’d expect from a game these days.

Overall, if you want a romp through a colourful world that brings back a simpler time in gaming then A Hat In Time is not one you should miss.  Performance issues aside, this game is a labour of love and it shows.  So much thought has been put into this title that you just can’t help but smile while playing.   Let down by long load times, and a few performance issues, this game is still a gem and worthy of a place in anyone’s collection.

Rapid Review Rating

A Hat In Time can be purchased for the Nintendo Switch at the following link:

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