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Review: A Hat in Time

"Gosh darn how can it be so CUTE!?"

I saw a glimpse of this game early in 2017 and thought it looked fun. I then sort of forgot about it, all up until it released 2 days ago. Now, having beaten it, I have to say that A Hat in Time will easily find its place in my top 5 games of 2017 list!

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The game is a traditional collect-a-thon platformer, that draws heavily on classic 3D platformers. In my mind the heaviest influencers would be Super Mario 64, Banjo & Kazooie and lastly, but certainly not least: Psychonauts! This last inspiration becomes most obvious in a certain train-related level that I enjoyed immensely! It is also the influence of Psychonauts that sets this game apart from most other collect-a-thons of recent years.

The writing in A Hat in Time is not perfect, though, and I feel like it is struggling to decide on its audience. For the most part the game is funny and whimsical and could be considered an 'all ages' experience, but occasionally the game slips into using darker themes. At one point you are literally ordered to 'murder' a bunch of spirits. At other points another character openly suggests dismembering enemies, and towards the end of the game even character suicide becomes a thing, in a way. It seems that the writing tries to mostly go for a more mature audience, those adults like myself who's nostalgia for the 90's and early 00's this game feeds. Your mileage may wary, but in my case I found myself laughing out loud at many of the jokes in this game.

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The gameplay is nothing too special. You run, jump, double jump, dive, then jump again. It's a bit surprising how much freedom of movement you have from the word go, and how much more the game expands as time goes on. New abilities are granted through, what else: hats! One hat lets you see into the spirit world, another turns you into a heavy ice statue, another yet lets you sprint fast or even ride around on a cute scooter!

That last one brings us to the most obvious thing about the game, though it is a point that bears repeating: this game is CUTE! The art style is impeccable and I was surprised to see the Unreal engine used in this way. The game is not without faults, though, and there are a few points in the game where you can see the engine not quite adapting to the style the developers wanted to deliver. However, for the most part, the game makes sure you don't get to see these shortcomings for more than a split second before moving you right along.

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In the end, whether or not you will enjoy this game comes down to your nostalgia factor. If those old games I mentioned before, Mario 64, Banjo&Kazooie or Psychonauts tickle your fancy, then A Hat in Time may very well do you a world of good. If those games were not for you, or you never experienced them in their day, then the nostalgia-pandering of this game might end up irritating you in the long run and many of the jokes might not open up to you.

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Still, I recommend the game and feel like this might end up being one of those rare games that even I 100% over time.

Playtime: 9+ hours (Single playthrough)

Visual

8

Audio

9

Story

10

Gameplay

9

Overall

> 9 <

Normal retail price at time of writing: 27,99 €

Recommended for purchase at normal retail price: Yes

Recommended for purchase at reduced price: Hell yes