So after playing through A Hat in Time I can say it was really fun! The game is a platformer collectathon where you play as a young girl simply known as the Hat kid. She was on a trip home in her spaceship when one day she was suddenly stopped by the local mafia asking for taxes to pass. After a heated exchange, the ship’s fuel (known as timepieces) is lost and spread throughout this strange new planet. This sends her on a quest to find them all so she can get back home.
Gameplay mainly revolves around 3d platforming similar to Mario 64 where the player has to get to the end of a level set in a semi open world to collect a time piece.The levels are filled to the brim with variety with one mission having you delivering mail on a scooter and in another you’ll be filming an action movie on an exploding train. Moving around consists of combining different types of travel such as using a grappling hook, bouncing off umbrellas, and using dive techniques. This all results in some silky smooth movement.
Tying into the platforming, the game’s signature mark is the hat system. As you progress through the game you unlock different hats that each provide you with different powers. Her main hat simply points you in the direction of your objective (pretty handy). Other hats allow you to do things such as unlocking the ability to run, throw bombs, and even the ability to freeze yourself. While there are not tons of hats like in Super Mario Odyssey, the handful you do have create a nice gameplay loop as they complement each other well and can be switched on the fly. There is also a metroidvania aspect to the hats as areas in some worlds are not able to be accessed unless you have a specific hat. This encourages a degree of backtracking. You unlock these hats by finding yarn balls scratched across the worlds you explore. Don’t get anxious about collecting them as the game gives you more than enough and you’ll probably have all your hats by the end of the second world.
For those of you who love collectathons, this is the game for you! There are so many collectables for you to get such as additional outfits, hat styles, cute emojis, and even secret levels. This ties in with your progress of the main story as collecting timepieces unlock more parts of your ships. These new areas unlock the next world you need and are often filled with fun interactables like a ball pit or a burger plushie you can bounce off of. Collectables are everywhere, and the best part is that all of this collecting craze is optional, so if you just want to blaze through the story, just get the minimum amount of time pieces and go ahead! But for those of you who love this kind of stuff this game actually makes collecting everything enjoyable as nothing is unreasonable to find. This game also seems really fun to collect all the achievements/trophies for as you get rewarded for doing the most playful things like using a grappling hook on ceiling fans or bouncing on your hamburger plushie. There are also some pretty hard achievements like trying to beat a boss with just one hit point (move out of the way Dark Souls =P)!
Returning to the story, the game doesn’t take itself very seriously and that includes its narrative. Collecting the fuel for Hat Kid’s ship is mostly a backdrop for the levels you get to explore, however you do get to meet some pretty wacky characters along the way. In one world you fight against the mafia and in another you will get to meet a pretty cruel and mischievous ghost. If there were a main theme to draw away from this story it is that we can seriously hurt people when we act selfishly. Almost all the conflict in the story comes from people wanting more than they should. The mafia has their greed, the movie directories are overambitious, and your rival has a thirst for power.
Connecting this to our moral reflection, as Catholics we can take this as a reminder to forgive. Despite all these people doing cruel things or taking advantage of her, Hat kid is able to forgive again and again. We must learn to forgive as she does. This doesn’t mean it’s easy, and looking to a very serious example in real life, Catholic Speaker Immaculée Ilibagiza, who had her country devastated and her whole family murdered in the Rwandan Genocide, was after all this able to forgive their killer face to face. She has become a messenger for God’s mercy and gives public talks about how God has transformed her trauma into an instrument of His glory. This may be a really shocking connection, but it is the lengths that Christ calls us to love our neighbor, by forgiving them.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18: 21-22)
Moving on to visuals, they are pretty good, as the game has a distinct cartoon-like artstyle. This makes everything in the game crisp and full of color. The animations for Hat Kid are filled with so much personality and help make the game even more fun. I also enjoy the variety of locations you visit from a seaside port to a village high in the mountains, it’s all beautiful to look at.
Now talking about the music it’s full of straight bangers. There are some really good pieces here such as the infamous “Peace and Tranquility” that I’m sure you have heard of if you were into meme culture a couple of years ago. Overall the laid back and ambient nature of the tracks provide for a relaxing parkour experience. There are also various boss tracks that really pump you full of adrenaline. All good stuff.
Lastly, I’ll be talking about the game’s modding scene as AHIT has a developer supported mod workshop on Steam! This is one of the most active modding communities that I have seen, you’ll see something crazy and new almost every day. There is everything from custom levels, crossover costumes, and even hats with new powers. And the cool thing is that you can turn them off and on at the flip of a switch since they are integrated into the game’s UI. There is so much stuff here that will keep you playing for hours after you beat the main game. (disclaimer: modding will not affect the score the game receives, for two reasons: first mods are only available on pc and second the CGR team believes the game should be reviewed from a vanilla experience.)
Violence: Cartoony slapstick violence, enemies disappear into a cloud of stars with a poof sound effect when defeated. However you can be pretty cruel at times such as by knocking down mafia members from really high places, the game even rewards you for this through an achievement. There is a level where you are filming a movie that has a murder mystery with a “dead body” but it’s just a prop.
Online Interactions: there is an online mode that allows you to connect with up to 50 players or in pvp but there is no way to converse with them in game other than through emojis and stickers similar to Fortnite’s quick chat.
Flawed characters: A lot of the characters in this game take advantage of Hat Kid to meet their ends but most repent of their wrongs.
Dark Humor: While A Hat in Time is pretty lighthearted and silly most of the time, there is some dark humor akin to old school Looney Toons and Animaniacs. Sometimes this humor can go a bit too far and is edgy for edginess’ sake. Such as when your soul is stolen and you have to fight for it back.
Occult: There is an area of the game that is a haunted forest that is inhabited by the lost souls of children known as the dwellers. There are even fire sprites that perform rituals by dancing around campfires that you have to help in one mission by feeding them paintings with a living Mafia member stuck inside, the spirits then commit suicide.
Art and Graphics: 5/5