A Hat in Time is the perfect example of how stage creativity lends itself to amazing gameplay
System: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC/Steam, Mac
Developer: Gears for Breakfast
Publisher: Humble Bundle
Release Date: Oct 5, 2017
Genre: Adventure, Platformer
Players: 1-2 local/online
Official Website: http://hatintime.com/
Who it Caters to
A Hat in Time wants to revitalize a specific type of platformer, the 3d platformer that was popularized by titles like Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Psychonauts. Catering to this audience, Gears for Breakfast launched a very successful Kickstarter campaign that funded $296, 360 out of their original goal of just $30,000, making a very strong statement that fans of the 3d platforming are there and wanting a new title. A Hat in Time promises that experience again and creates a spectacular game to add to this beloved genre.
What to Expect
A Hat in Time provides a rich platforming experience with quirky and lovable level design. The use of different hats, all of which have varying abilities, creates an environment where players will enjoy interacting with the stages as they propel themselves past obstacles and defeat enemies.
A Hat in Time - Announcement Trailer | PS4
A young girl, our protagonist of A Hat in Time, is on her way home in her spaceship when the mafia intercepts her and demand she pays the toll. Upon refusing to pay, the mafia destroys the ship power source, the timepieces, scattering them into space. The protagonist must make an emergency landing into Mafia Town and team up with “Mustache Girl” to recover to lost timepieces before time becomes destroyed.
The actions you can do in the game as are as follows: jump, attack, crouch/crawl, use a hat ability, quickly switch your hat, and bring up the hat selection menu.The controls are smooth and fortunately so given that precision is important for platformers. Extra mechanics also involve the availability of a double jump, wall cling, and wall jump, all of which will help diversify movement, avoid/attack enemies, and create alternative ways to beat a level. While there are some restrictions on what you can do, you can do jump abilities but cannot do jump attacks and wall clinging does not allow you to jump and wall cling again, most of the mechanics and controls will feel familiar and freeform enough for casual play or competitive speedruns.
From the Gamescom build, we were able to get a glimpse at one stage within 1 of the 5 world’s in A Hat in Time. In Chapter 2, Act 2: Murder on the Owl Express, players will find themselves in a classic murder mystery. One of the owl occupants has been murdered on the train and now it’s up to you to find out the culprit! Prior to the murder, the game invests you in several ways. From the beginning, you’re simply a curious passenger. Naturally progressing at this point means moving from one train car to next and while you move, one type of NPC will interact with you naturally: the crows.
The crows are a group of detectives who are coincidentally on the train before the murder. Not only do they try to question everyone due to their profession, they also question you, asking you weird questions that come into play later. Two of the questions are the name you would give to your “pet’s pet” if you could and the name of your “uncle’s sister’s maiden name.” Both questions play out later and help elevate the stakes when the player is pressured into finding the culprit before time runs out.
After picking up the “Crime Solving Hat,” the player is called by the mastermind of the murder. In a modified voice, the culprit incites you to check the back of the train where you see learn where the murder takes place. From henceforth, you become the detective in a murder mystery. Only by utilizing each hat in your arsenal will you uncover the mystery, conquer obstacles, and avoid being framed as a suspect by the competing crow detectives. In the Gamescom build, there were a total of four hats:
Original/Crime Solving Hat: When you wear this hat, it highlights important items and doors.
Sprint Hat: This visor, just as the name implies, allows you to sprint at quick speeds, helping you traverse areas much faster.
Ice Hat: This hat transforms you into an ice statue and leaps before coming back down with a gigantic explosive landing. You can use this hat to hit enemies out of the way, avoid detection from the crows while you pretend you’re a statute or launch yourself across the stage ice platforms that act like trampolines.
Brewing Hat: This witch hat makes your character shake a potion. After a while, you can then throw this explosive to attack enemies or break through cracked doors and walls.
To uncover the “true culprit,” the player must discover folders within the train, each containing enough evidence for you to suspect and point out as the mastermind. By picking up these folders, you open up your choices for the ending, each playthrough of the stage allowing you choose another culprit and thus a different ending.
While the stage doesn’t change upon each playthrough, the endings themselves are hilarious on their own, a good incentive for players to try out this stage (and hopefully future ones) multiple times. The quirky characters, familiar story and charming gameplay are already such a compelling reason to play this game. Hopefully, fans of 3d platformers will give this a try, and even those unaccustomed to platformers will appreciate the amount of detail and thought put into the stages.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Just from a short preview, A Hat in Time seems very promising. Although whether the final product proves to be the same remains to be seen, from what we gathered from the demo, there is so much charm already instilled into the game. While the demo didn’t provide much in terms of combat--attacking a train occupant might, after all, make you look like a murderer--just the execution of the stage really left an impression. The integration of character interactions helped build an enjoyable atmosphere. Previous details such as the laughter from the crows play later on as a mechanic in the stage. The stage itself encouraged multiple attempts to see different versions of the story. Without a doubt, if every stage is as involved as this murder mystery, then A Hat in Time will become a mainstay in any platforming fans gaming library.
Great player involvement with the stage and story
Intuitive and easy controls
Hat abilities were varied and corresponded with fun solutions to stage environments
Characters fit the themes of the act and helped developed the atmosphere of a murder mystery
Some of the questions asked early on in the stage didn’t seem to have a meaningful
effect--hopefully, they will be utilized in replays of the stage for the final game
Honey's Final Verdict:
I’m actually not a fan of platformers. Usually, this is a genre I avoid in its entirety, so it was quite surprising to find myself really loving this game. Difficult jumps weren’t really a thing in the demo, but certainly, I can see that the appeal of this game is more on using abilities than extremely specific platforming. I’m still curious about how combat will be in the final product, but I think the most important thing that will keep me interested will be how creative the stages will be in the end product. I truly hope that the thought put behind the demo will be reflected at every stage throughout A Hat in Time.
If you’re a fan of platformers or were looking for to this title, perhaps you participated in the Kickstarter, feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear your opinion on the game and your interest in the genre as well!
Author: Sean "Coopa" Hoang
A motivated writer hoping to share his passion for video games, literature, and visual media. I'm the main streamer of FinestKO, a variety game stream with roots in the fighting game community. Whenever there's time, you can usually find me broadcasting or writing for the next article.