Hats is a charming little color matching game that takes the familiar grid-based formula and adds just enough twists to make it feel interesting and fresh.
Worthy of your Hattention
Hats begins with a simple tutorial that actually does little to prepare you for what makes it different - which is sad because I suspect this is where many people will stop playing, rather than finding the fun hidden within.
The base premise is simple enough: tap touching hats of the same color to make them disappear. But, to add a little extra depth, the aim is not just to tap on every set you see, because to get the really high scores you have to be patient and line up squares of matching hats (in at least 2x2 grid). This is because doing this disintegrates every hat of that color lining up further possible combos. All of this is clearly shown in a sharp and colorful 2D illustration style.
Hats' two game modes play off its focus on planning and patients, with one putting a limit on your number of moves, and the other adding a time limit to really test your abilities. With only half a minute to clear as many hats as possible (and ticking time-bombs threatening to blow holes in the grid), you will find your skills stretched to the limit if you really want to start putting up high scores.
2 by 2x2
What makes Hats standout is its focus on speed and twitch reactions. The time-limited game mode (called Tick-Tock), initially offers just 30 seconds to clear as many hat-orbs as possible. That isn’t long, especially when you add in the exploding bombs that constantly changing the layout of the board. More time can be unlocked (purchased through hats earned in-app or from the store), but every two seconds you add feels remarkably short.
This limit can be frustrating, as you feel the explosions are constantly messing up your carefully laid puzzle plans. It is fun, however, especially as this fast pace creates a "traditional" puzzle experience that is digestible in small chunks.
Hats' other mode is Big-Bang. This limits your number of moves and feels far more tactical, as you plan your next steps to deliberately alter the lay of the land. Take out a red hat/orb 2x2 set, and all red orbs will vanish, allowing you to change the whole board to line-up your next set.
This extra time also lets you make more effective use of the various special abilities. These allow you to eliminate specific hats, shuffle the board, deactivate bombs, or change the color of a specific hat – though using any of these costs a move.
Again, in Big-Bang, you can extend your number of moves. Starting with 30 turns, you can add two at a time for an ever increasing cost. This is fine if all you want to do is improve your own score, but it starts to feel like cheating when comparing your scores against friends, as these start to creep up purely by virtue of numbers.
Hats is a good looking little puzzle game that is deceptively involved. The bite-sized way in which each round can be consumed makes it a great fit for gaming on the go.