When 3D games became more of a thing, platformers were expected to die. Games like Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot kept them going, but over time they had less and less of a presence as the rise of shooters became more prominent. A Hat in Time shows us that platformers are far from dead in this day in age, and that new platformers that were never part of a series cannot only be good, but creative as well.
Hat Kid is going back to her home planet. When some visitors (the mafia) from a nearby planet break her ship, pieces fall down onto the planet. There she makes yet another enemy after finding out that those parts of her ship are magical (well, they control time), so it becomes a race to find them, save her ship and make sure the space-time condominium isn't ripped. Overall, it's like a mix between Pikmin and Banjo-Kazooie-like platformers in terms of story and finding things, which isn't bad. It's obviously made to harken back to those days, but the numerous stories that pop up are fun and tie everything together. It can get a tiny bit dark, especially near the end, but overall it's a fine, if a bit worn, story.
The graphics are pretty good too. They harken back to the early days of 3D platformers, but with much more modern designs. I was reminded of latter-day Miis. It's not photo-realistic, but it isn't blurry with a lot of invisible walls either. They're bright and cheery houses and streets. They can be a little blocky here and there, but mostly they are are what they look like, with crisp colors, and characters having good animations.
It might seem weird, but the gameplay reminded me of Simpsons: Hit and Run, minus (most) driving, and Banjo-Kazooie, but with more humans. You run around the city or area collecting things, defeating enemies and gradually work your way through. It's a 3D platformer – it's what you do. And it all work – there are bouncy things, different weapons, running, jumping – it works great. I haven't seen a platformer this seamless in years. It's based on old-school design with lots of new tricks.
Controls on the PS4 were fine. Sometimes the camera angle got weird, but once you move a bit it works itself out. And buttons are just like you would imagine them to be. I didn't even need to look at the controls to know what did what. It's not a bad thing – it's just that games kinda fall in where it's at control-wise over time.
The sound and music were what you expect. The music was very cartoony – lots of xylophone use for example. It felt like the background music in a kids movie or TV show, which of course worked out. Sound-wise, again, it's a bit of a throw back. Things you collect while running around make the soft 'ping' sound when collected, and your character gives little noises while attacking or jumping or whatever you're doing. Other characters speak or grunt. And while sometimes sounds are the same, they vary it enough that you don't really notice. Unlike other games, they change it up naturally. Overall, very good on this front.
Besides the camera getting screwy at times, there's not a lot of mistakes. I didn't encounter any glitches, and the frame rate was perfect. There were times where I misjudged jumps, and I thought I was being held back, but that was more like jump angles. A Hat in Time was obviously tested thoroughly.
What can I say, I liked A Hat in Time a lot. I wasn't really that big on platforming games growing up, but even this made me feel oddly nostalgic for them. Even better, this has stuff for both kids and adults, which was another surprise. You won't be bored during the game,as there's a lot to do that takes skill, critical thinking and planning, but also moments of thoughtless bashing. It has something for everyone, which is hard to say these days. It's definitely worth a look.
Final Score: 9.5 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.