Friday, May 2, 2014

PAX East 2014: A Hat in Time (Gears for Breakfast)

Spring has arrived, and with that, another PAX East has sprung up, inviting gamers and game developers from all over the world to Boston, all to show upcoming games and revel in what the industry has in store.  We at Third Rate Minion were there, and we got to try out a sampling of what was there on the showfloor!

Interview with Jonas (Mecha the Slag):

Cooperative Gameplay Footage:

In the middle of the Indie Megabooth, developer Gears for Breakfast had a booth dedicated to its upcoming Kickstarted 3D platforming adventure A Hat in Time.  We got to discuss the game with Jonas, the head of the project, and we also got to try out some of the new Co-Op Mode which was at the showfloor.  Check out the videos and look at our impressions after the jump.


Platformers are a large segment of the indie gaming world, but most of these platfoming games are focused on just the 2D plane.  A Hat in Time from Gears for Breakfast looks to break from this tradition and bring about a return to the collect-a-thon era of 3D platforming left behind.  The game stars Hat Girl, a young time-traveling explorer who ends up crash-landing into an Island ruled by the unruly Chef Mafia.  Eventually, she encounters the mischievous Mustache Girl, and in short order, our hat-wearing protagonist goes on a quest through time to stop Mustache Girl by collecting special hourglasses strewn about a multitude of worlds.

A Hat in Time is very much akin to collect-a-thon platformers of gaming generations past.  After selecting a specific hourglass to retrieve, players travel around a seemingly open-ended world with the aim to find the hourglass and other items in order to progress through the game.  At this time, only two Chapters have been unveiled to much extent, and even then, much of the actual Acts in each Chapter are still a mystery.  Even so, the variety of stages is apparent from the little amount of the game unveiled so far. In Chapter 1: Down with the Mafia, the world is bright and colorful (and populated by mafia chefs terrorizing everything), whereas what we saw of Chapter 2: The Subcon Forest was the opposite - dark, dreary, and moody.  The Unreal Engine really helps make the colors pop, and there are graphical effects which make the game look even better.
If you are concerned with the game's controls, don't be.  A Hat in Time feels right at home with the best of older 3D platformers.  Hat Girl runs around quickly throughout the stage and can use a number of moves to progress through the world.  There were moments in the demo that I felt like Mario from Super Mario Sunshine, even.  Fighting is not as solid, yet; outside of swinging an umbrella, Hat Girl can also jump on enemies' heads.  In the battle sequence I played, combat felt more rigid than the platforming, and with only one enemy to fight so far, the variety in battle strategies was at a minimum.  Outside of that little hiccup, the style of the game looks well on its way to becoming something great.

My brother and I only had time to play through part of Mafia Town, but what we played was a solid framework for what could be really entertaining.  In the demo, each player is in control of a character (in the demo, both are Hat Girl but with different hats), and the game tracks each player as they venture through the world.  If a Hat Girl is defeated, she appears in a crystal waiting to be awoken by the other player.  In this more guided Act, there were times where the game would try to bring both players together in order to progress.  Jonas said one of the challenges of the Co-Op Mode's programming will be keeping the duo together, which implies that free-roaming might not necessarily be on the cards, at least for now.  Either way, as a very very early build of Co-Op Mode, anything can change, but it was fun regardless of the little wrinkles.

A Hat in Time is still very early, as Jonas is not even sure of a 2015 release.  There is still plenty of work to be done that we have yet to even see (Gears for Breakfast has shown only curious screenshots for Chapter 3 out of 6), and in that work, who knows what will come from this build into the final game.  If the game builds on what has been shown so far, it will no doubt be a game to look out for.  Get your collect-a-thon on when it comes out, or you can pre-order and get alpha access right now at!

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