What is A Hat In Time?
A Hat In Time is a bright and colourful, light-hearted platformer that stars a nameless girl on a mission to get back home. When her space ship is attacked, it ends up leaking its hourglass-shaped "Time Piece" fuel all over the planet below, scattering them far and wide - which leaves poor hat girl with quite a bit of cleaning up to do. By working your way through a wide and wonderful array of missions, which range from solving an avian murder mystery, to delivering letters to demons, to leading a parade of moon penguins, you'll gradually earn your fallen Time Pieces back, and get one step closer to heading home. Along the way, you'll unlock new super powered hats, each with their own unique abilities, which you'll need to make clever use of to progress.
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How do you play A Hat In Time?
In a similar vein to the likes of Banjo-Kazooie, Mario and Jak and Daxter, A Hat In Time is a fairly traditional collect-a-thon platformer, with a focus on daredevil leaps, enemy bashing and light puzzle solving throughout. Each world is divided into a number of 'acts' - essentially missions - with a different primary objective in each, although each takes place in the same sort of area, just tweaked to reflect the act in question, a la Mario 64. With no time limits, you're largely free to explore each world as you see fit, picking up money and collectibles to spend on upgrade badges for your hats, and yarn with which to sew yourself new hats, before getting down to business and completing the mission to earn you the next Time Piece.
Your arsenal of headgear comes into its own while you're exploring, and you'll often need to chop and change between hats to get the job done, as each one has its own unique ability. The winged 'Sprint Hat' gives you a dash for an extra burst of speed (and a longer leap, if need be), while the witchy 'Brewing Hat' lets you lob explosive potions to destroy fragile crates and barrels blocking the way, and a cute knitted 'Ice Hat' turns you into a heavy ice statue, which can springboard off certain platforms to reach further afield ledges. By combining your hat powers with some light puzzle solving and platforming, you'll work your way through the game's various levels, whether it's using the Sprint Hat, coupled with a fall in a muddy puddle, to chase a scaredy Mafia goon down, or donning the Dweller's Mask to make invisible platforms visible, and able to support your weight.
How easy is A Hat In Time to pick up and play?
As a hat-wearing, enemy bashing, daredevil leaping platformer, A Hat In Time isn't an especially difficult game to get to grips with, although a few aspects may take a little getting used to. Each 'act' has a primary objective for you to complete, some involving simple platforming to reach, while others are more involved - such as trying to creep around a train, staying out of sight of the suspicious crows, who'll send you back to the start if they spot you.
Some of the more complex missions involve taking a particular route through the level, and the game can be a bit lax at showing you where to go next and what to do - your default purple 'Kid Hat' does theoretically show you your destination, but as it tends to be as the crow flies, it isn't always all that helpful. As such, some degree of exploration and experimentation is usually required to figure out how to get certain Time Pieces. Boss fights can also be a little tricky, sometimes requiring some speedy reactions or precision platforming to dodge their attacks, which may be beyond some of the less able players - and with no adjustable difficulty level, it's a case of just having to be persistent until you make it through. However, figuring out which hat to use in a given situation is usually pretty straightforward, as the game will often flash up to prompt you to change your headgear when necessary.
A Hat In Time is also (pretty much) fully voiced, so non-readers are unlikely to have too much trouble in that department - about the only aspects that aren't read out, or even subtitled, are the protagonist's occasional mumbles to herself, which aren't essential in the slightest. All the key information for missions, and even just random background chatter along the way, is fully voiced and subtitled. About the only non-voiced prompts you have are either inconsequential comments when interacting with scenery, or those that are tutorial in nature, and once you've got the basic controls down, they aren't really that important either.
- "This yarn is looking ready to sprint! Hold L2 to sprint!"
- "It's so cold! Hold L2 to do a ground pound!"
- "Clean the Subcon Well."
A Hat In Time is a bright and colourful, family-friendly platforming adventure, with nothing in the way of bad language or sexual content, and only mild violence and gore.
Violence is largely limited to slapstick whacking enemies with your umbrella weapon, or bopping them on the head, Mario-style, with defeated enemies simply disappearing. Some scenes can be a little on the 'gory' side, although with very much a light-hearted and slapstick bent, whether its your frenemy Mustache Girl joking about smushing up the Mafia and putting their remains in jars, accompanied by cartoony doodles, or a fake murder on a train, with an owl lying in a pool of not very realistic looking blood, with crosses for eyes.
However, a few scenes may prove somewhat scary to the younger crowd - particularly in the case of sneaking around a creepy mansion, where the shadowy, demonic owner will periodically pop out and chase you around. The screen goes dark, accompanied by some tense music and screams, and, unless you can find somewhere to hide, she'll catch you and send you back to the start.
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4