A Hat In Time is an indie 3D platformer developed by Gears For Breakfast. After a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2013, the platformer was finally released in 2017 to…limited critical acclaim. While general reception among critics was positive enough, A Hat In Time was quickly overshadowed by releases like Cuphead and Super Mario Odyssey. This is a shame because it’s actually a pretty good game…but we’ll dive into that in more detail below.
If you’re interested in playing other great indie titles, check out our list of the Top Indie Video Games.
On to our A Hat in Time Review…
A Hat In Time offers plentiful configuration options on PC. This includes extensive key remapping, camera sensitivity settings, field of view, advanced graphical settings, and more. The only thing that’s missing is the ability to turn off depth of field, which is quite annoying for me personally. Depth of field does offer some cool visual touches, but by blurring out objects in the distance the game effectively reduces how much you can enjoy its colorful landscapes. We’ll dive into graphics in more detail in its own section, but aside from this little issue, the available options are fine.
For more on configuring graphics settings, check out our guide to graphics settings.
The gameplay of A Hat In Time is nostalgic in some ways, and genuinely innovative in others. The first area of the game, Mafia Town, is a sunny island likely meant to evoke memories of Delfino Plaza for people who played Super Mario Sunshine. Time Rifts, which are special stages focused solely on platforming challenges, also evoke Sunshine’s own Secret stages, which broke from the exploration-based gameplay of the main game.
Fans of classic 3D platformers will remember that collect-a-thons are pretty much a genre staple, and A Hat In Time is no different. Each stage is full of collectibles, with your main goal being to collect Time Pieces (think Power Stars/Shine Sprites) to complete a given “Act” of that world. There is no shortage of places to go and things to collect in A Hat In Time, but the game never feels padded with filler or like it’s missing content. There’s always something to do, and this means that players won’t get bored.
Aside from the exploration and collection aspects of A Hat In Time, the mechanics are incredibly solid and responsive. Different Hats grant different abilities that can be used by holding down the left trigger and Hats can be toggled between rapidly using the D-Pad. Hat Kid’s movement capabilities are great too, with wall-running, wall-jumping, double-jumping, diving, dashing and grappling offering a full suite of moves to pull off.
While landing on small platforms with dive-cancels and such can be difficult, every last bit of A Hat In Time’s movement system feels fair and in your control. If you miss a jump, the game isn’t at fault: you are. Fans of classic platformers may need to do some adjusting to the specifics of Hat Kid’s physics, but aside from the rare glitch, Had Kid feels incredibly consistent to control.
A Hat In Time isn’t going to approach modern AAA-levels of fidelity, but it still looks pretty great. By focusing on art style and post-processing over sheer high-fidelity assets, A Hat In Time successfully achieves that “timeless” look associated with titles like Wind Waker, which look stellar even a decade after release.
The only real thing holding it back is…depth of field. Depth of field is not only unable to be disabled (unless you’re willing to dive into configuration files…), but the DOF effect used in A Hat In Time is very strong, and often comes at the detriment to its visuals. Getting to a high vantage point to take a cool shot of the stage starts feeling kind of pointless when you realize that everything outside of a 3-meter radius is too blurry to discern beyond vague shapes.
This is a real shame, because the quality of the models, textures and particle effects are genuinely great! Depth of field almost seems to come at the expense of the rest of the game’s visuals, and with any hope, the devs will listen to fan feedback and provide an in-game feature for disabling the option.
Aside from mandatory depth of field, A Hat In Time looks stunning. If you’re willing to dive into configuration files to disable it entirely, you’ll be able to wipe that bad mark off entirely.
A Hat In Time could be described as Super Mario Sunshine, dipped in Wind Waker’s aesthetics and Paper Mario’s storytelling. But that doesn’t quite describe the full experience, because A Hat In Time is actually full of its own charm and gameplay innovations that allow it to stand apart from the games that inspired it, rather than being a simple clone. While this game was unfortunately overshadowed by the releases of two other major platformers, it’s still absolutely worth checking out.
Those who buy the Steam version will also get access to the Hat In Time Workshop, which offers full modding capabilities to the game. New cosmetics, new stages, new playable characters…you name it!
Overall, A Hat In Time is highly recommended. If you’re interested in building a PC to play games like this at their highest fidelity settings, consider checking out the $400 gaming PC build over at The Great Setup.
This post was written by Christopher Harper. He is a longtime gamer, computer nerd, and general tech enthusiast. Through his work on MakeTechEasier, he hopes to make complex hardware topics easy to digest and understand. Nowadays, he writes for TheGreatSetup.com, a PC build/hardware-oriented site. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.