A Hat in Time is a 3D adventure platforming game in the style of Super Mario Sunshine; it was funded on Kickstarter and released in 2017. There are two DLCs for the game and two soundtrack albums available. The plot of the game centers around Hat Kid, who is looking for her missing timepieces, which she needs to fuel her spaceship and get home, which also anyone who wields them to manipulate time.
The game’s chapters are all centered around the premise of finding and collecting each level’s timepiece, but each chapter puts a slightly different spin on it. The first chapter, Mafia Town, establishes the basic formula. But the chapter just after it, Battle of the Birds, has four levels where you are scored on your performance, and the number of points you get and what level you got them on effects which version of the final act of the chapter you play. Each chapter has its own gimmick and variation on the “get the timepieces” collect-a-thon formula.
There are side levels, called time rifts, that are self-contained platforming challenges. If all that is too easy for you, then the Seal the Deal DLC adds deathwish mode, which adds extremely difficult challenge levels and bosses. If you are less skilled and still want to complete deathwish mode, try using assist mode or peace and tranquility mode, unlocked from multiple failed attempts. The only difference for completing a death wish on an easier mode is a different colored completion icon. And if you’ve completed all that the base game and DLC have to offer, many mods are available on the Steam Workshop for your perusing pleasure.
One major plus for me is that the entire base game and most of the DLC can be played in co-op mode. When I first picked this game up, I played the story once in single-player mode. For my second playthrough, I convinced my sister to play it with me in co-op.
Neither of us was very good at games in general when we started, so my first playthrough was mainly to let me take my time with the story without her getting bored and for me to practice, so I could help her with the trickier parts to keep her from getting too frustrated. Two things that helped a lot are the built-in assist mode, which doubles your hit points from 4 to 8, and lets you regenerate hit points when you stand still for a short time; and a trick we discovered, where, with two players, you can disable and then re-enable co-op to essentially warp player two next to player one. With me as player one and my sister as player two, this let her skip platforming sections that were too hard for her on our first co-op run, although she has only needed it rarely, if ever, in our more recent co-op runs.
A Hat in Time is made for Windows and Mac, so getting it running on Linux requires some tricks; thankfully, those tricks are pretty easy to do. The game hangs on the startup screen on Steam’s version of Proton, so you’ll need to either grab a copy of GloriousEggroll’s custom Proton or use a trick where you switch the graphics backend from directX to Vulkan, which is as easy as dragging and dropping a file into the game directory. However, there are reports floating around that it breaks some workshop mods. So I recommend just using the GloriousEggroll version of Proton since it’s still pretty simple and less likely to break things.
A Hat in Time is one of those games that is simple conceptually, but its execution of that concept is top-notch. It’s simple enough for a complete beginner to pick up and in-depth enough for an experienced player to spend a while mastering it. The Seal the Deal DLC, with deathwish mode, is only 5 dollars. The soundtrack is fantastic. The Workshop has numerous custom deathwishes, levels, and customization mods available. Like most games I own, I bought it on sale, and it goes on sale pretty often, so if the base price is too high for your tastes, wait for it to go on sale.