A Hat in Time (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

“You don’t see too many 3-D collect-a-thon platformers like you used to,” would be a phrase I would say, but this past year alone we’ve had a bit of a revival in that genre with games like Yooka-Laylee, Poi, and Super Mario Odyssey.  And now to round things out, we have A Hat in Time as well, which looks and feels exactly like a 3-D platformer that you’d find on the GameCube.  In the game you play as a nameless girl, but we’ll call her Hat Girl.  She wears a top hat and cape and flies in her spaceship in hopes to get home.  But along the way, her fuel falls out and scatters all over the place.  For some reason, her fuel looks like hourglasses and has the power to change time.  So now she must visit all sorts of crazy worlds to get her hourglass fuel back.  The game is available to download on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

Hat Girl has all the moves you’d expect a 3-D heroine to have.  She can double jump, attack enemies, and more.  You’ll collect all sorts of goodies to help you out.  Little round marbles act as your currency to buy levels and badges.  You can attach badges to your hat that give you special skills, like the ability to swing on hooks with a grappling rope.  You can also collect different types of yarn, and when you have enough, you can sew new hats to wear that give you special abilities like detecting your goals or running faster.  The levels are quite narrative, and remind me a bit of Psychonauts (though not near as good). Once you find the hourglass in that area, you can move onto the next.  Hat Girl’s spaceship acts as your hub world, and the more hourglasses you collect, the more doors and worlds you can open up.  You’ll explore places like a movie studio, spooky forest, and more.

The game has some problems that really affected my enjoyment of the experience.  First off is the play control.   It just feels a little squirrely and…off, for lack of a better word.  For instance, when you slide and land on your belly, you can’t move.  You have to press jump to get back on your feet, and it threw me off more often than not.  Plus hit detection wasn’t accurate and goals and objectives were sometimes unclear. And there is a bit of a difficulty imbalance in that I could snatch up tons of hourglasses, only to take an hour to find the next one, or have to beat a super tough boss that’s way harder than anything in the game up to that point.  And on a personal note, I hate stealth missions in games, and A Hat in Time has a few and they’re not very fun.  But if you can look past these problems and really miss GameCube-style 3-D platformers, you should check this one out anyway.

Kid Factor:

A Hat in Time is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Fantasy Violence and Alcohol and Tobacco Reference.  Most of the time the game is no worse than a Mario game in terms of violence, but every now and then they put something in that parents may want to watch out for.  An example is a Western level on a train, and you have to solve a murder by finding clues.  You can see the owl person who got murdered with a knife in his back and what looks like blood on the floor, but once you solve the mystery, you learn that it was just a rubber knife and the murder victim wasn’t dead at all.  Another time you must infiltrate a haunted mansion and hide from the spooky lady who lives there.  It can be quite scary!  Reading skill is needed for the text, and younger gamers may get frustrated by the difficulty and controls.

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