A Hat in Time (Xbox One) Review

By Neil Flynn 23.12.2017

Review for A Hat in Time on Xbox One

3D platformers are all the rage once more, and it does feel eerily like the gaming universe is partying like it is 1999 again, with games such as Yooka-Laylee and a resurgent return to 3D Mario in 2017. A Hat in Time is the result of a Kickstarter campaign dating back to 2013, meaning the game has been over five years in the making. Has the timely delay benefitted this action platformer?

The plot follows Hat Kid, a young girl on a voyage back home through space aboard her trusty ship. Unfortunately, our unsuspecting hero encounters a mafia member who attempts to collect a "space toll" for passing through their territory. He purposefully smashes through her spaceship window, causing the ship's source of power, "Time Pieces," to be sucked out to the planet below. What ensues is a glorious dystopian adventure across four main hub worlds to fetch back the Time Pieces and restore the ship's power.

The adventure is broken down into chapters and acts, which each gift the player with a Time Piece upon completion. With 40 of them to collect, the adventure throws in a varied amount of missions and playstyles that perfectly paces the game. The chapters are so multifaceted that they can vary between a fast-paced action level and a sneaky stealth level (paying homage to Metal Gear). Very rarely would a player find themselves not being curious about what is coming up next.

Screenshot for A Hat in Time on Xbox One

Many Super Mario Sunshine fans will find a sense of familiarity of how each act opens, as well as in certain levels (known as Time Rifts), which are a throwback to the GameCube title's non-FLUDD levels. Levels can vary in length and challenge, with some spanning a much longer playthrough, and others that can be gained in a cinch.

A Hat in Time has its inspiration straight from games like Super Mario Sunshine and collectathons such as Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64. Despite it not being cel-shaded, the graphical animations are reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, coupled with presentation akin to Super Mario Sunshine and a small hub world evocative of Super Mario 64.

Screenshot for A Hat in Time on Xbox One

The stellar soundtrack is congruous with the game's graphical style, including the main menu theme, among many other standouts. While there are obvious inspirations from games in the same genre, the soundtrack stands out as one of the best OSTs of 2017. This is no surprise given that Grant Kirkhope (of Banjo-Kazooie and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle fame), among other composers, were on board to help provide the score. However, the less said about the voice acting of the NPCs the better. While some are passable, others are somewhat annoying - particularly Hat Girl's frenemy Mustache Girl, who speaks with an infuriating English accent that will make you want to mute the game.

Lurking behind A Hat in Time's stellar level design and flawless soundtrack are some unfortunate issues, such as a twitchy camera (perhaps a subtle nod to Sonic Adventure?), although this doesn't happen too frequently to hamper gameplay. There is also an occasional non-issue of the camera phasing through environments, causing a strange shadowy transition. While this is not problematic, it does somewhat take the sheen away. It must be also noted that during the review process the game did crash four times, which required levels to be restarted.

Screenshot for A Hat in Time on Xbox One

Fortunately, the right thumb stick does allow for repositioning of the camera, and this can make platforming much easier, although there are some frustrating sections of the game that can annoy even the more veteran platform player. This is perhaps made a little easier as the game goes on, as certain power-ups give the sense of fluidity to traversal, which just makes the entire experience more enjoyable.

A Hat in Time boasts a number of collectables, including hats, badges, pons, and yarn to name a few. Hats give Hat Girl special abilities, such as being able to run faster or do a ground pound similar to that seen with Super Mario Bros. 3's Tanooki Suit. Badges help accentuate the abilities of the hat, pons can be used to buy badges, and yarn can be used to stitch new hats. There are even items to collect that don't really do anything…but you can collect them…just because…

Screenshot for A Hat in Time on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Despite some snarly camera issues, A Hat in Time should not be overlooked. Behind the vivid graphical style lies a charming and cute platformer that provides even the most experienced players a challenge. A hoard of collectables will help extend the life, and an excellent soundtrack befitting of the genre will ensure that ears will also be delighted. Hats off to the developers!

Developer

Gears for Breakfast

Publisher

Gears for Breakfast

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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