If you thought Nintendo was the only developer who could release a hat-based 3D platformer this year, think again.
A Hat in Time starts out with a young girl flying in a spaceship by herself. Where is she going? Where are her parents? And does any of that matter when you have a bedroom so filled with pillows that you can install a diving board and swim around in them? All good questions that unfortunately aren't answered. After this introduction, her spaceship is almost immediately damaged and her belongings are sucked out and fall to the planet below. The young girl has no choice but to chase after them, especially the magical hourglasses referred to as Time Pieces. She quickly heads down to the planet and finds herself in the campaign's first world, Mafia Town.
Mafia Town as well as three other large-scale worlds later in the campaign are all robust and glorious realms with tons of adventures and exploration opportunities contained within. All of the four worlds feature distinct environments that are packed with hand-crafted puzzles and platforming challenges. They can feel intimidating at first but it doesn't take long to become familiar with the layout of each world. Thankfully, A Hat in Time creates an interesting structure for each of its worlds as almost every missing Time Piece is associated with a specific act hosted on one of the four main worlds. Some acts place you in the world's wide open expanses and provide a bit of direction as to where you should go. Other acts are quite structured and take place in smaller segments of a level that can only be accessed when choosing that act. This variety keeps each world feeling fresh and provides for some distinct and memorable objectives.
Alongside Time Pieces, you'll also collect diamonds and balls of yarn that are hidden across each level. Diamonds are used as currency to unlock future acts as well as purchase enhancement badges that can be attached to your hats. Those hats are crafted from the balls of yarn you collect and provide you with some pretty sweet abilities. Each world makes 1 or 2 new hats available to craft that unlock abilities which you'll need to complete the level as well as for going back to previously inaccessible areas in other worlds. Some hats are relatively plain like the starter Kid's Hat that points you in the direction of your objective and the Sprint Hat which allows you to run faster. However, there are also some more powerful hats that allow you to do some pretty awesome things that I won't spoil here.
The platforming is challenging, precise, and enjoyable while the puzzles are relatively simple yet the bosses can be quite difficult with each one having a wide variety of attack abilities. However, as with basically all 3D platformers, prepare to occasionally battle with the camera. I preferred playing with the camera assist option off as that gave me more control with less auto-adjusting that I didn't like.
Many 3D platformers can be exhausting collect-a-thons so it's surprising to me that I'm lamenting the lack of collectibles in A Hat in Time. Besides the aforementioned yarn balls and diamonds, the only other important collectible is relics. However, if you're an explorer like me and love unearthing secrets, you'll find all the relics and necessary yarn balls well before the end of the campaign. This made exploration in the last couple levels a little less exciting as I knew the reward for unlocking a secret or solving a puzzle wouldn't be very useful.
A Hat in Time is a charming adventure with four wonderfully crafted and unique worlds. Finding new hats and abilities keeps the gameplay exciting and overall, A Hat in Time ended up being the best non-Nintendo 3D platformer that I've played in quite a while.
- + Charming visuals and adorable protagonist
- + Each of the four worlds is distinct, exciting, and filled with platforming fun
- + Swapping between hat abilities is satisfying
- - The camera can be a pain at times
- - Not enough unique collectibles