A Hat In Time Previewed
By Nathaniel Liles
When I first saw A Hat in Time, it was love at first sight, so if you’re looking for the one person on the internet who didn’t like the game, you’re looking in the wrong place. I don’t even know where you’d look. Maybe check a prison built entirely to house joy-hating, evil people, because this game is pure, unfiltered happiness. It’s beautiful, it’s funny, it controls well, it sounds fantastic, and I’ve only seen an early Alpha build of the game. A Hat in Time brings us all back to a simpler time, when running around a happy, colorful world was fun all by itself because of thoughtful design and prioritizing fun above all else.
When you start out the Alpha, one of the first faces you see (apart from your own) is a little girl with an adorable, waxed, blonde moustache. There you go. Do I need to explain any further? I didn’t think so, but I will. The game’s sense of humor is fantastic, be it the great writing and voice acting, or just the graffiti that covers the main town in the game. You can swim past the S.S. “None-Of-Your-Business”, or watch the majestic Mafia dance squad. You can even talk to a finger snapping penguin dressed like a Blues brother. Also note that that penguin is voiced by the one, the only, Jon Jafari, also known on the internet as JonTron. It’s marvelous.
The game is also visually a treat. Every turn reveals some new, beautiful, interesting structure or sign. The amount of care and polish already given to the game also lends it a very modern and technically impressive feel despite it being highly stylized and cartoonish. The music is also fantastic and, in the case of the spooky-ass second level, very tense and effective. Grant Kirkhope, the composer of many Rare games including the Banjo-Kazooie series and Goldeneye 007, lends his talents to this game’s phenomenal soundtrack, bringing with him several original tracks.
As far as gameplay goes, it’s extremely promising and well thought-out. The level design and overall idea of the game hearkens back to classic N64 collect-a-thons like Banjo-Kazooie, but brings with it a modern and more polished feel. Navigating the levels with a mouse and keyboard feels extremely natural and really pads out the frustration and difficulty of some of those early platformers.
Of all the problems I had with the Alpha, the vast majority of them are problems that will definitely be worked out before the final release. I played a very early version of the game, and considering how impressed I already am, I think this is going to blow many people away. One of the main problems I had with the game was an overall sense of, “Yeah, okay, what do I do here?” and a couple unforgiving moments in the free-roaming segment. The balloon race has to be impossible, because try as I might, I never even got close. Aside from that, even just running around seeing what secrets I could uncover was an unadulterated joy, and I can’t wait for the full release of A Hat in Time.
Game : A Hat In Time
Developer : Gears for Breakfast
Platforms : Win / Mac
You can get an Alpha copy of A Hat in Time for yourself by heading over to the games’ preorder page.
For even more information on the game be sure to check out our interview with Gear for Breakfasts’ art director, William Nicholls