“A Hat in Time” is a treat

The Mafia are playing patty cake. The penguins are throwing a parade. A spooky ghost is forcing you the clean his outhouse. And by the time you finish “A Hat in Time,” these will all be fond memories.

“A Hat in Time” continues the once lost tradition of 3D platformers, creating imaginative open worlds and sprinkling them with collectibles large and small to put in your pocket. You’ll leap and dash across different worlds to find all of the Time Pieces that have been stolen from your spaceship and use them to fuel your return trip home. Along the way you’ll craft new and fashionable hats that will expand your game with new abilities, such as sprinting or seeing hidden objects.

Exploring the various worlds within “A Hat in Time” is a treat in itself. Each world is packed with charming characters and hilarious scenarios that make you curious simply to see what’s next. The Time Pieces all have their own quest, which means each one represents a new challenge with a new situation. These challenges range from basic platforming to intense, multi-stage bosses that take numerous tries to defeat. This variety keeps the game fresh, for no two timepieces are reclaimed the same way.

What really stands out is the game’s overflowing charm. The entire game is packed with hilarious dialogue, endearing art and incredibly catchy music. Each world offers a different environment and cast of characters, which result in huge diversity in artistic style and narrative circumstances. The whole game is joyful, friendly and optimistic, with enough dark and self-aware humor to keep it from being too much of a children’s game.

The game isn’t perfect: it suffers from many of the problems that indie games generally face. The controls, while numerous and multifunctional, are not polished to a shine. Oftentimes an accidental wall slide or a barely visible shadow will make the platforming more difficult than intended. The homing attack in particular is often unresponsive, which is a problem when trying to chain them together to get past a tricky platforming section. When a game’s challenge is focused on tight platforming, this can be a major annoyance. Some of the art, while pretty and polished from a distance, doesn’t hold up when the camera gets closer. The game is also fairly short. There are only four worlds total, excluding the finale, so if one doesn’t fit your taste it’s a full quarter of the game.

These issues don’t detract much from the experience, however. “A Hat in Time” is full of interesting platforming and combat challenges, unique and varied scenarios that change up the gameplay and story in dramatic ways and an overall joy and charm that’s rare in the modern gaming landscape. It’s a game that stands out both among its timeworn inspirations and its modern contemporaries to deliver an enjoyable experience that’s well worth playing.

Game: “A Hat in Time”

Developer: Gears for Breakfast

Systems: Xbox One, PS4, PC

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars