In the days when Rare and Nintendo gave birth to the most memorable and influential platformers of our time, there was a sense of charm invented that only a few have ever attempted in current releases. Even the word ‘charm’ is over-used when describing games nowadays, but this gem certainly earned it. After nearly reaching one thousand percent of their Kickstarter goal, Gears for Breakfast have finally released A Hat in Time. This absolute darling of a game deserves high praise for not only striving to reach the feel and design polish of yesteryear’s platformers but for executing it so very well. From the sound design to the cute art style, a magic spell (read: Charm) ekes out of every pore in A Hat in Time. Something has to be said for even attempting to achieve the greatness that was the 90’s video game appeal. Not only that, to garner so much crowdfunding in a post-Kickstarter heyday is a feat itself.
In A Hat in Time, you play as Hat Kid, a cute-as-heck little girl who has lost all her magical hourglasses. It’s now your job to collect them from various planets that they strewed down on from your playhouse-styled spaceship. Where the spaceship serves as the hub for visiting different planets, the environments could not be more varied; from evil purple swamps and mafia-governed towns to whodunit mysteries on a train and a DJ’s studio. Through your adorable adventure, you will use yarn to craft various types of hats that each give different abilities in addition to your basic double jump and wall running. Some will simply let you sprint faster, while others power your platforming abilities much further. Classic hook-shot, timed platform reveal, and super bounce are some of the abilities you’ll gain, as well as being able to acquire pins that give other minor powers.
3D platformers are no stranger to camera issues, and those are somewhat prevalent in certain areas. However, every puzzle is so refined that there’s never a stale feeling of reusing old mechanics. At one point you’ll be crawling through a stealthy horror-themed mansion, where another you are battling a corrupted out-house to satisfy a contract you signed with an evil entity. Every time there’s a new challenge, it usually requires combining previously learned skills in a new and organic way. It’s a refreshing blend of platforming and light combat that just screams polish.
The entire campaign lasts 14 hours or so, not including getting every collectible, which I most certainly will. I won’t lie, I also spent an hour checking out all the tiny interactables around the spaceship hub. The amount of detail here is ridiculous. In your bedroom sits a diving board atop a ‘pool’ of pillows to dive into; out in the main bridge, you can sit and watch TV on a pillow or spin around in the captain’s chair. In another chamber is a supercomputer, loaded with a silly internet browser and a full Zork-style text adventure. These endearing details are oozing from every part of A Hat in Time, and its playful art style compliments it quite well.
Strangely, they are not planning a Wii U or Switch release (officially, anyway), despite its inspiration. Gears for Breakfast is certainly showing that 3D platformers are more than capable of making a return. Nonetheless, A Hat in Time was released on PC on October 5th, and it set its charms on Xbox One and PS4 release on December 6th, 2017. It’s worth the 5 years it was in development for, so go grab it!
Have you tried it? Let us know what you think of this lovely game in the comments!