“Something a Little Different (And Refreshing) For XBLIG.”
An XboxHornet review by Liam Jugler.
Heroes of Hat reminds me of the long gone PS1 era, not just in graphics but in that sort of early 3D adventure game style. There’s a lot of elements here where you can see the influence of those first tentative steps into 3D and, frankly, it’s refreshing to play something that isn’t cribbing off NES and SNES games.
HoH is a side scrolling adventure game that combines elements of puzzle and platforming. For the core gameplay, there isn’t really much else to be said with getting into deep analysis about it. You run, you jump, you use various powers granted to you through special hats and you try to make it to the end of the level in one frog-shaped piece. The elements of the game, however, all combine in a way that, as I mentioned, reminds me of old PS1 side-scrollers of similar ilk, such as Pandemonium. A lot of that comes down to the fairly basic 3D graphics, level backgrounds and sound design. Frankly, while I do love that this isn’t yet another pixely/gimmicky game, the color choices were a mistake. Everything in the early stages is ugly browns and greens and while it does get slightly better in the later stages, everything still looks like dull blobs of colour. The sounds are significantly better. The music is functionally upbeat and the effects fit the games style and theme in a really solid way. That’s a little weak, but sound design is one of those things that you can’t really appreciate without hearing.
The main problem with HoH is a break between its theme and its gameplay. Plenty of games have breaks like this, where two elements of the game clash against each other and conflict. Here, it’s the difficulty and the theme. To look at HoH, you’d expect a fairly simplistic platformer with maybe a boss or two. Maybe even something for the kids to play. However, and this may just be me being terrible at the game, this is a brutally difficult game. Unfortunately it’s not even the “fun” kind of difficulty you see in something like Ninja Gaiden or Dark Souls, the difficulty stems from what feels like design oversights. Bombs explosion radii are huge and the damage you receive from them is unforgiving; you will fall to your death over and over while you work out the Arrow-Hats special power – That sort of thing. I’m not saying the difficulty strips the fun out of the game, far from it. It’s just that, when a game looks like it’d be an easy fun time, and you end up frothing at the mouth like a rabies victim, there may be something wrong with the design of the game.
Finally, aside from being graphically a change of pace, the game itself is fairly generic. The titular Hats gameplay gimmick boils down to a collection of powers and powerups that you use through most of the game. The level design is uninspired and nothing really screams uniqueness throughout. It’s best feature, the co-op, can work against it in many ways, making the screen busy, confusing and sometimes makes the jumping puzzles a huge pain to struggle through.
In conclusion, this is a totally and utterly functional platformer game. Nothing too impressive, but at the same time it’s not going to make you throw up all over yourself like plenty other indie titles might. There’s a nice lot of work gone into this, I feel, and it’s probably worth the money.
Game Score: 4/10.
Download a free demo of the game here.