(PAX West 2017) A Hat in Time

Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Psychonauts! These kind of 3D platformers are no longer made, but people still want to play them! A Hat in Time aims to bring the genre back!” That is a large mission statement to have for a company. Two out of three of them are childhood classics for me personally and I really want this to be a reality, but I tend to hold my breath on something like this. I don’t like to get my hopes up to high, but if you’ve seen any of the gameplay (like in the video above), it does look promising. Now that I’ve gotten my grubby little mitts on it for a bit and I have to say, it looks like they could pull it off.

A Hat in Time is very colorful and rather fun to play. One thing that does set it apart right away is the voice work. We didn’t get much of that back in the day and I feel it was like adding voices to the newest Zelda game (sans Link). The voices here all fit well and are an enjoyable addition. I’ll admit to skipping most of them in order to get more time in the game, but when I did listen, it was funny and well done. Funny in a good way; the voices follow the colorful aesthetics in being playful and inviting.

I do have a small issue with the controls. There’s no ledge-grabbing (and that’s fine). However, I feel that back in the heyday of 3D platformers, the jumps could all either be cleanly made or not made at all so you always either landed on top or were rewarded with a nice fall. Ledge-grabbing being implemented in some games or even areas in games and not in others is what I see in a lot recent 3D platformers. It gives me a weird feeling of “could I have made that at a different angle or am I not supposed to be up there?” I guess it all comes in with what we can do with graphics lately and adding a lot more detail to our games. In A Hat in Time, there were a few jumps I couldn’t make because I was doing it wrong and others that really feel like I should have made it. It wouldn’t stop me from enjoying it fully because, with time, I’m sure I’d get used to the mechanics and limitations built into the character.

They say that there will be 5 massive worlds to explore. They list four on their main page, but I’m worried here because they also list Steam support as a fount of content. Sometimes this can pan out, but at other times means a lack of initial content in hopes that players will fill a void. I’m hoping I’m wrong about this point, but it is in my head and I’d be lying/misleading if I didn’t mention it. I do argue how well a layperson could implement co-op as well as the main dev, but I’m always willing to be proved wrong about my assumptions. I’m hoping that the massive levels really are massive.

Further Reading on A Hat in Time: Facebook / Official Page / Steam / Twitter

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