Contrary to the name, there are many hats in this game. Each of them with a different ability to empowered you, a tiny space-travelling girl with a big tophat.
With a budget of $296K collected on Kickstarter, A Hat in Time was one of the most expected 3D platformer of the year, and I must say the wait was not disappointed !
The game regains obvious gameplay elements of old-fashioned platform action games such as Super Mario 64 / Sunshine, Banjo-Kazooie or more recently Yooka-Laylee. Your story start in the "Hat Kid" spaceshift, the alarm-o-clock rings, you head to the main hall where the univers is briefly presented then an intruder arrives, leading to an accident which make you lose all your spaceshift fuel : Time Pieces.
As you guessed, your purpose will be to explore the differents worlds and collect your Time Pieces back, as well as some other collectible like hat updates, figurines, skins, ...
Each world has its own unique scenario to follow up with the differents missions, which in returns affect the end result of the world story. Example, in the chapter 2 you meet DJ Groove (a disco penguin) and "The Conductor" (a western/polar bird), you will have to complete 2 missions for both of them, collecting points. The final story of the chapter will depend on your score on DJ Groove or "The conductor".
Each world is so rich that I often ended exploring all the corners of the map to find every possible collectible of the map. Same as the Secret Stages in Super Mario Sunshine, once in a while you have a Time Rift popping in the world you are playing in, allowing you to gain some extra Time Pieces, and force you to explore the map to enter the Time Rift and pass the bonus stage.
Moving in the game is not so different from a Super Mario Sunshine: you jump, double jump, wall jump, slide... What was really surprising was the boss fight !
Everyone of them is unique, with their own gameplay. Mafia Boss, the first boss you will encounter is (and feel) like a Street Fighter challenge in 2D. Next bosses will be 3D style, with each some particularities, so nothing boring.
In fact, you will want to urge the mission to discover the boss awaiting you.
Some would say, using Unreal Engine 3 is a bit outdated in 2017, but who cares ? I mean the game looks good, every action is fluid, and I didn't meet any flows during my 12 hours of gaming. Moreover, the game development started in 2013, it wouldn't be wised to change technology in the middle of the project.
For the rest, if you loved (again!) Super Mario Sunshine, then the general design and univers looks like it.
A good game for every Nintendo 64 / GameCube nostalgic, it will bring back all good memories !
Gameplay is efficient thanks to the hat update system allowing you to access different zones on each world. Level design is good, challenging, effective and totally adapted to this kind of game. Musics are nice as well, especially during boss fight, it looks and sounds epic !
A little cons, there are only 4 worlds available, and it took me about 12h to finish the game at 70%. On the bright side, developers planned to add 2 new free worlds and a co-op mode.
A must have.