Hatfall is a game developed by the infinitely famous Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw who is best known for his YouTube comedy show, Zero Punctuation on the Escapist channel. I’m a big fan of Zero Punctuation, so I thought I would take a crack at writing a review in the style of the show. Let’s see how well I can embarrass myself.
If someone were to come up to me expressing excitement for a game about hats falling on your head I would slowly back away in the most non-threatening way possible for fear of later waking up chained to a dungeon wall in a ‘Sexy Gandalf’ costume, with a comically large protrusion on my forehead. Hatfall does the job of patting the backs of the already insane while convincing aspiring mental patients they’re on the right track.
You control a desperately hatless man as he tries to rectify his issue by standing under shadows that may or may not be hats; you appear to be on some planet without an atmosphere because those things fall at you as if they’re in a friggin vacuum. As you panic your way through stages of fedora collecting, like Michael Corleone on Black Friday, the game gets tougher by adding bumbling invalids to distract you and the occasional falling anvil or street post or hatchback that upon mistaking for a hat your insides become your outsides. I noticed myself getting way too much enjoyment out of watching either myself or the innocents around me get reduced to an indistinct mess on the floor surrounded by someone with three hours of Photoshop experience’s idea of a blood spatter effect. It’s as if my brain forgot how to think and instead diverted energy toward complete madness which I feel is the point of the game and that’s not a bad thing. Your running animation is reminiscent of a prophet seconds before doomsday, the music sounds as if it belongs on the ‘The Mask’ official soundtrack and the pace runs at the speed that makes Sonic weep with jealousy. I don’t think it’s very common for people to be so enthusiastic about hats that it borders on fetish so I’m unsure who this game is marketed toward. I guess you could set up a stall outside the Vatican directly after the new Pope election, while on the topic of fetish.
“There must be more to the game than just hat collecting right?” I hear you asking, to which I reply no; but luckily there is more than trying to catch them with your head.
Every once in a while a hat will bring you a present where you get to choose your favourite joke from Yahtzee’s Zero Punctuation waste bin. At first I thought the presents were just a clever stab at stat mechanics, in a game that obviously wouldn’t have or need stat mechanics, as a way to show off a kind of nonchalant laziness so I was pleasantly surprised that they came with mini-games; only some of them though, most only made cosmetic changes (so I guess it was only showing off half-laziness) there’s also no way of knowing which present gives you a mini-game, so in order to unlock the fun stuff you have to just be lucky or grind for hats like Jack’s beanstalk giant after he discovered night clubs. I do give Yahtzee credit for making the mini-games more fun than the core game so you actually feel rewarded instead of let down but it just makes you frantically collect more hats giving the intro title of ‘Addictive Games’ more merit than Bonaparte’s Meritocracy.
There are five mini-games you can unlock and all of them seem to represent Yahtzee’s allergies to sociability. There’s a JPRG that only accentuates his distaste toward social environments considering every random enemy is a boring acquaintance at a wedding party, a mini-game where you fill out an insurance claim drunk uncovering an obvious and rampant alcohol addiction, a mini-game where you play as a manager which shows off his inability to be a team leader as the end-game always ends in embezzlement and a dating sim that sheds light on his need for female companionship. Oh, I forgot the mini-game where you race down a hill collecting falling hats with a net which I’m pretty sure I’ve read in a dream book represents a type of closeted homosexuality.
I played the steam version of the game which goes under the cringe worthy sub-title of ‘Hatters Gonna Hat’ which sounds like it was looking for ironic in the pandering aisle. The only difference between this version and the free online one is that this version starts off with a counter that counts down from 1500 whenever you collect a hat. I collected every last one of those bloody hats and without spoiling anything I’ll say it makes a massive change that changes nothing at all like anyone who ever got over a serious addiction, it replaces whatever you were addicted to before with whatever you’re addicted to now only whatever you’re addicted to now looks, smells and tastes just like what you were addicted to before. It did make me play the game longer though. I would even go as far as to say that it adds to the game a story, if that story was written by a drugged Lemming as Disney was throwing it off a cliff. The counter utilises the alluring nature of mystery to fool you into playing for longer but hey, at least it gives the hats more value than the in-game store does: “Would you like to buy this thing worth 100 hats or this thing worth 1000 hats?” “What’s the difference between the two?” “This one looks funnier.” “I’ll take neither”.
I give the game sh*t but truth be told I had a lot of fun with Zero Punctuation: Hatfall – Hatters Gonna Hat Edition because, luckily for me, I’m one of the already insane. I love doing things over and over and expecting different results. I’m currently looking for the right asylum to admit myself to, but I can’t decide which one has the hottest nurses. Hatfall has the charm of simplicity, coupled with the allure of fast paced energy like a drunk virgin the day after her sixteenth birthday. It was refreshing playing a game with a sense of humour, poking fun at other games with a poison tipped cattle prod. Sometimes it’s good to just sit back and not care if your character will win or lose or discover autonomy and kill himself by bashing his head on the inside of your LCD screen. Sometimes it’s fun to just collect hats; and hopefully I’ve convinced you so I can finally have a use for this Gandalf costume.
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