It has been so god damn long since a game made me smile. They’ve made me laugh, cry, or scream in excitement. But I can’t remember the last game I’ve played where I was just grinning like an idiot from beginning to end. The last one I can think of was Undertale, back when that came out. Which was… damn, five years ago!
But this game does something else. Something no game has done in well over thirteen years. It made me feel like a child. One that was still new to the joys of video games.
A Hat in Time is the most adorable 3D platformer I have ever played in my life. It looks charming, the writing is hysterical, and best of all: it plays incredibly well! It’s one of the smoothest, most responsive platformers I’ve ever played! As soon as I finished it, I wanted to leap right back in and play it again!
Unfortunately, I’m an adult. No matter how childish this game makes me feel, I can’t shirk off those responsibilities. As much as I desperately wish I could.
Story: Wait, I’m an alien?!
What is the Hat Kid? Is she like… a Time Lord from Doctor Who? What’s her deal? I’m so curious that it’s maddening! Oh well. She’s adorable, I can let it go.
On her way back home from another planet, your character, Hat Kid, takes a break in orbit of a seemingly nice little planet. Here, her ship is visited by the Mafia, who want to charge her space travel taxes. A few accidents later, her ship’s power supplies, the Time Pieces, are flung all over the planet’s surface, and her along with them! Now, Hat Kid must explore the many locals of this strange world to reclaim her missing treasure!
This isn’t a complicated story. Far from it. All the characters are goofy and simple, the plot is straightforward, and the ending is nothing more than ‘the good guys win, the bad guys lose’. It’s the kind of story that a little kid can understand.
And if you’ve read my Crash/Spyro reviews, you guys know that I can always appreciate that.
The most fun part is that each set of levels has their own unique stories! One of them is a haunted forest where you’re soul gets stolen (which features a level that genuinely scared the hell out of me). Another one is a competition between two directors aiming for a movie award! One of them is an open-ended adventure with giant Viking goats! They’re all so varied, fun, and unique!
The only real problem I have is that there’s a disconnect between the main plot and all these different mini-plots. None of them build towards the greater plot. That one, with the game’s main antagonist, is just put on hold right up until the very end of the game, then is resolved in the final level.
Is that final level amazing in every way? Absolutely! The only other finale that was as exciting or emotional for me is, again, Undertale (there are a lot of similarities between the two final bosses). And the stories all tie together in the end in a satisfying way. I just wish they were a bit more cohesive.
But I can’t really complain. This game’s story is simple and cute. I know that, if I were a little kid playing this, I’d have an absolute blast from beginning to end. If adult me did, then kid me certainly would have.
Cause that kid would’ve taken anything.
Presentation: IT’S!!!! SO!!!! CUTE!!!!
My heart! It’s melting! I can’t handle it!
This game is so damn bright! So colorful! So cartoonish! It’s an absolute delight on the eyes! It reminds me of the PS2 games that I grew up playing! Playing this, I was sucked back to my earliest days playing games, sitting in my basement and playing games like Jak and Daxter or Psychonauts.
And the music! Sweet god, this game’s soundtrack is incredible! From the haunting Halloween vibes of Subcon Forest to the cinematic scores of Battle of the Birds all the way to the dramatic high energy finale of Time’s End, all the music in this game is delightful to listen to!
My personal favorite is the Time Rift track. It’s so chill, so peaceful, that I could feel all the aching and stress just melt from my body when I listen to it! It gave me strong Mario Galaxy vibes, which I always love!
Gameplay: The 3D Platformer, Perfected
This game is so damn responsive, dude! It just feels good to play! It’s so simple, but it has so much depth behind it all! The last platformer I played that was this responsive was Mario Odyssey! You know! One of the best games on the Switch!
The core gameplay loop is simple. Each level puts you into a big ol’ map with a different Time Piece and an objective you must complete to get it. You jump around, leap through the air, and use the different powers provided by your hats to overcome the obstacles in your way. You know, typical Mario 64 style platforming. Simple and clean.
And oh boy, is this game clean!
Each level is absolutely massive, providing you tons of room to explore. You can go straight to the Time Piece and complete the objective, if you want. Or, if you feel like looking around, you could look around, find some bonus items, or just talk to some goofy NPCs.
The major stand-out feature of this game are the hats. Surprise, a game called ‘A Hat in Time’ has hats in it. But they’re more than just cosmetic! Each one provides you with unique abilities, ranging from the convenient to the necessary. Wanna run faster? There’s a hat for that! Wanna throw potions that explode? There’s a hat for that! Wanna slow down time itself?! THERE’S A HAT FOR THAT!! These all add a nice bit of variety, giving the player more options than just ‘jump’.
The levels themselves are all pretty solid. They’re very reminiscent of Mario 64/ Sunshine levels, in that you’ll be revisiting them many times. Each time you visit, however, something will be different. Mafia Town might just catch fire when a volcano erupts. You may need to explore a mansion inhabited by a terrifying witch in Subcon Forest. The sheer amount of variety between missions makes this one of the most varied and unpredictable platformers I have ever played!
It isn’t a very challenging game. But it doesn’t need to be. It’s a very cute, happy-go-lucky platformer. It isn’t meant to challenge you in ways that will break your sanity. It has one objective: fun.
And it knocked the shit out of the park!
A Hat in Time isn’t a complicated game. But that’s exactly what makes it work! It’s simple, it’s cute, and most importantly: it’s fun! The only thing on its mind is making sure the player is enjoying themselves as much as possible!
It’s such a simple thing. Video games are supposed to be fun, right? Well, you’d be surprised how many games forget that these days. It’s all about writing the best movie and making it playable. It’s all about making it look as realistic as possible. Or as big as possible. Often times, fun itself is left forgotten.
Not this game! This game lives and breathes fun! From the moment you start right up to the end, this game is an absolute delight! It’s like injecting fun straight into your veins!
Most people call that cocaine. I call it A Hat in Time.