Some impressions from DuskGolem.
Originally Posted by Dusk Golem
I posted this in another thread, will post it here too. I'm a bit tired and about to sleep, so haven't proofread it yet. Will in the morning and fix some typo's probably in this post.
Okay, here's some pretty extensive thoughts of A Hat in Time after playing it for 8-9 hours and completing about half of the game (my percentage on my main file is about 50% done right now, and I've completed 21/40 levels the game has so far. Maybe the game falls apart later, but that's for reference of where I'm at, and of course this is my opinion.
A Hat in Time's story follows a nameless girl (aka Hat Kid) who is an alien and who's ship runs on hourglasses that store time, having the ability to rewind and freeze time. Due to some silly shenanigans involving the mafia on a planet she's passing, her ship crashes and her 40 hourglasses spread across the planet. She goes off to collect them all, meeting a colorful cast of characters along the way. The game's story isn't going to win any awards, but I've been surprised how much I've enjoyed it thus far. The characters are voice acted, and so far the voice acting is pretty good (and there's also a badge you can equip which makes them to 'mumble' speak if you wish... more on badges in a bit).A few of the characters I've already come to love, plenty have time to let you come to know them and find them likable or not. I also appreciate the game's villain angle, everything is kind of a gray area in the game. The good guys aren't wholly good, the bad guys aren't wholly bad. Hat Kid actually doesn't seem to care about good vs evil, there's a do-gooder who has a morale high-ground of sorts and can't understand why Hat Kid doesn't want to use her hourglases for good, but Hat Kid just wants her hourglasses back. The bosses you face aren't strictly because they're the bad guys, just they're in your way to collect your hourglasses back. Motives for the bosses so far often have to do with wanting the hourglasses to go back in time and undo a mistake in their past, something they'll do anything to change rather than because they're evil, which I find an interesting dynamic. I don't know obviously if the story holds up all the way through yet, but I like it for what it is so far.
Game has a hub world, which is Hat Kid's ship. The ship loses power and needs the hourglasses to restore it. Get more hourglasses, and both more of your hub world ship unlocks as well as access to a new world to play. The hub world is fun to explore and gets more added to it over time, including patrons who decide to board and do small things for you (ranging from allowing you to switch music in stages to selling you something or just loitering with flavor text). Out of the many collectibles in the game are souvenirs you can find (split into pieces though), which you bring back to your ship and you organize on one of a few pedestals (you have to manually stack them though). If you complete a souvenir, you unlock a new bonus level in one of the stages you can then access, which includes a harder than usual level with collectible pictures that give you a picturebook story (no text, all pictures though) of the backgrounds of the characters who live there.
Speaking of collectibles, the collectibles here are well done, which works well for a collectathon. Every one is linked to something, there's no 'useless' collectible. Green orbs you get everywhere is your main currency, which you can use at a shopkeeper to buy new badges (more on those in just a moment), use to buy some new missions in levels, and some other misc things. There's different types of yarn you can collect, which gives you different hats (yarn is a universal amount, but there's different kinds and you need to collect at least one type of a certain hats yarn to make the hat, and then just enough overall yarn). The hats all give you different powers, and you can change them on the fly with the d-pad or choose one from a menu of hats that slows down times. The hats abilities range from letting you speed forward, doing a statue-esque ground pound, throwing energy to destroy things, an aura which makes certain transparent objects appear, and more. You also can collect customizable looks for your hats, as well as different colors for your main character. Here is me wearing a custom color and a custom version of one of the hats in the game:
There's also badges, which are kind of your power-ups in the game. You buy them from the store mostly, but some you get from other means. At the start of the game you can only equip one badge, but there's two upgrade slots you can buy from the shop to equip three badges total. Badges do everything from giving you a grappling hook to decreasing hat ability charge time to a map showing you where nearby souvenirs are to an ability to turn the running hats ability into a scooter or to turn your basic attack into a charge-up laser, among many other things. You can change them on the fly in the middle of the level whenever you like, and they're fun to mess around with and think what's best for a situation. And then of course, the main goal of the game is to collect back your 40 hourglasses.
(I also will off-hand mention I LOVE the shop keeper in this game, he travels around and has this 'glitchy twitchy' look and creepy appearance, which he claims is because he's seen everything and it's left scars).
I feel the game's controls are going to have some mixed reactions, but I actually REALLY like them. They're a bit floatier than some platformers, and some may have different preferences here to me, but once you begin to get a handle on them you can do some crazy stuff. They can do a great job at making you kind of feel like you're parkouring, as you can run up walls for a short time, wall jump, slide to go faster, dash in the air, do a double jump, and you can begin combo-ing these things like jump, double jump while in the air, dash in the air ahead, hit a wall, wall jump off the wall, dash in the air again and do a double jump off that dash. It also can combo well into the other abilities you begin to get, like the running ability can run up walls a bit higher (as faster), or the grappling hook can chain very well into things. One ability I was not expecting at all is kind of a homing attack similar to Sonic, where if you're close enough to an enemy in the air you can press the attack button to dash towards them in the air as a homing strike. It's not all very complex, but well handled in my opinion, and I personally really like the movement and almost parkour element the game has sometimes.
All of this wouldn't matter if the game wasn't fun, which at least I think it's insanely fun. The missions are very creative with a lot of twists and turns. I don't want to speak too much in-depth here, but there's a LOT of variety of what you're doing. The game shows all sorts of inspirations everywhere in its worlds and missions, and has its own set of unique twists on each one. The game is the sort of game where one level is a murder mystery on a train and you're collecting suspects while avoiding being caught, to a previously fine island level being loaded with lava and having to maneuver in a whole new way due to the change, to a sort of Luigi's Mansion meets Resident Evil meets Amnesia horror level, to a level where you rush to go from press meet to press meet trying to become a diva and get your reputation up by publicity stunts, or going behind the scenes of a studio in a segment that almost has tinges of something like Portal. There's a lot that happens, and then in what happens there's a lot of twists within the twists, and a lot of cleverly timed and amusing jokes and surprises.The game never loses its identity through this, but you end up going through a large variety of scenarios, and different kinds of stages (the main kind of stages are kind of open-world playgrounds that Collectathoners may know, something akin to Mario 64/Sunshine esque style, but there's some very different other types of levels, including these challenge levels that heavily remind me of the challenge levels in Mario Sunshine, more linear affairs or sub-areas in the levels with their own flavor and level design).
Each "World" in the game has a different hook too among the missions. The first world is rather straight-forward and what you expect, but in World 2 for example you find yourself helping two movie producers competing with each other as the star in both of their movies and how well you do in both of their missions will give them 'points', and whoever has the most points at the end will make the finale of the world go down in a different direction, and World 3 & 4 have a similar twist.
I've fought two bosses so far. The bosses in this game are surprisingly not that easy, they take like 20-30 hits before they die and have multiple phases. They start off about at the difficulty I'd put Mario bosses at, but they get crazier and crazier. The second boss I fought I REALLY liked, so much so I won't spoil it. It was a crazy long fight, and I think the guy had like 6-8 different phases (though one phases was a sit-down 'talk' with him rather than fighting him), but if they can keep that up I personally really like the boss fights.
The game has a lot of polish, it almost reaches the level of polish you'd imagine from a bigger studio, but a few things hold it back. The game captures the style it sets out to do fantastically (Gamecube platformers), but some screen effects can become a bit much at certain points (though they are adjustable). The camera is better than some other games in the genre, but it is by far the biggest flaw of the game and there is the occasional moment you'll need to struggle with it (there's a free 360 camera control thing and a click automatically behind you button, but still), and the camera sometimes likes to pan back really far in certain situations. I haven't really encountered any bugs or glitches so far personally, though.
Music is fantastic, it has some stand-out tracks but all of it I've heard so far is quite good. There's also several variations of most themes which kick in during different gameplay moments, which does amp up and do what's intended. Sometimes when it's amped up it's caught my attention, but in a good way.
I need to see if this game falls apart in the second half of the game, and I won't claim everyone will love it as much as I have so far, but this I think is going to be a top five Collectathon title for me. It has made me smile on multiple occasions, and I've had a lot of fun with its mechanics, surprises, level design, missions, characters, and collecting. I'll update when I play again soon and finish it, but it has my whole recommendation right now.
And some of my own quick impressions:
Finished cause im a bloody gluton and had the weekend off, thought I would give some quick impressions. Yeah I really liked the game much more then Yooka Laylee it was more of what I was looking for out of a modernised collectathon/3d platformer.
A Hat In Time has charm it has personality the levels feel like actual worlds with characters that feel like they organically live in them rather then just being ! marks to activate, there are alot of small details and often im just wondering around looking at every inch of the levels not necessarily because im looking for collectibles but because there might be a funny little interaction/dialogue or easter egg to find. It also has a *Hat Badge* seller that is essentially a combination of the Mask Seller from Zelda and No Face from Spirited Away.
Each Hourglass is essentially like Jiggys from Banjo, it gives you a world to free roam and collect other collectibles like the games Currency for the badge seller or Yarn Balls you use to create different hats to give you different powers, but each Hourglass can be only be collected one at a time accepting it like a mission at the start. And this can be off putting for some rather then just letting you collect any in whatever order you want until you get struck because you don't have a power it does pigeon hole you into collecting that specific Hourglass. However because of this they often make each one different and feel more rewarding to collect, not all of its concepts work perfectly but I appreciate the effect to make every Hourglass different changing the levels ever so slightlylike flooding a town with lava switching up the environment and how you traverse it, or giving you a *murder mystery* with you trying to collect evidence, or a hide and seek section from some ghost in a spooky mansion.
Movement has weight behind it the move set is great the only Cons I would give the game is the voice acting can be hit and miss at times and the game is missing a level of polish that might have been great to leave it in the oven for a few more months, and would have liked more characters that weren't just a copy and past. Keep your expectations in check its still a indie its still the Company's first game funded through Kickstarter its not exactly what your looking if you want something exactly like Banjo Kazooie (hell Mario Odessey looks more like a Banjo Kazooie sequel every day) but its still the best attempt at this type of genre so far and im excited to see them do a sequel or see the genre evolve and get better. If your not sure wait for a Humble Bundle or a Sale either way its a must play if your at all wanting to capture a bit of that nostalgia again.
Edit: Also music is fucking legit.