Nikodem Szewczyk and Mateusz Szymaski produced Top Hat, a Polish platform game. Everything from the artwork to the music to the mechanics evokes nice recollections from the past. The gameplay, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired.
When a stranger comes unexpectedly at the main character’s house, we meet him. We learn who the invader is and what he wants from us after a brief exchange of words. He offers us “a lot of money” for a gold cylinder hanging in the apartment, but when we refuse, he kills the hero and takes him to the subway. The little dialogues presented in the windows are written casually, yet simply and amusingly. The creators, like in older platformers, pay little attention to the plot and instead concentrate on the gameplay. We navigate the succeeding boards from the side, much as in Mario the plumber’s escapades, and deal with the monsters we find with a rifle and hurled grenades. We also rapidly understand that while densely set traps and met opponents may readily wound us, the damage does not kill us instantaneously. The health bar, while not extensive, allows for errors. We lose one of our lives when it is depleted. We obtain these by collecting a hundred coins dispersed over the board in the form of various prizes such as coins, jewels, and golden goblets. The initial few minutes of gameplay demonstrate that this is not a simple title. Even the loose ceiling pieces want to murder us. Often, deadly items are hidden, and understanding the stage and memorizing the structure of the hallways which is often followed by death, the key to victory.
Each failure caused by losing all of the hearts results in a screen ridiculing our actions: “You are dead. Return to a simpler game and remove this one since it isn’t for you.” The first boss exemplifies this wonderfully. Fighting him is an unexpected task that needs several repetitions. Defeating it grants you access to new equipment that will make succeeding attractions simpler to complete. Six extra weapons can be added to the basic kit. Some are just buffs to the basic assault, while the remainder offer some fascinating potential, such as constructing platforms for jumping or freezing board pieces. This shifts the game’s balance from arcade to logic, where overcoming adversity becomes a larger task than evaluating response speed. The game shines brightly in these moments and rewards patience, but there are just too few of them.
The pixel visuals are vibrant, bright, and diverse. The backdrop is densely packed with things, while the monsters are scaled to different levels. Fast, upbeat music compliment the action beautifully while without tiring the ears out. We put ourselves in an unfair situation in many instances by attempting to generate a hard level of difficulty. The rooms are frequently overly claustrophobic, leaving little room for mistake. The amount of information on the screen is overwhelming. This makes distinguishing the threat from the backdrop difficult, especially since, as previously said, danger may lie in the most unexpected areas. The controls are clumsy and occasionally malfunction. Jumps frequently fail to register, leading you to plummet a floor. There are also a few snags. Occasionally, rather of making us laugh, exchanges of words between characters irritate us. All of this makes the game tiresome in the long run, since it is not completely thought out in terms of balance and learning chances.
In interviews, Nikodem Szewczyk frequently discusses his desire to make the best game for himself. Top Hat isn’t flawless, but the two-person studio’s project has a lot of charm and gives us a lot of hope for the future projects of two fresh faces on the Polish indie gaming sector.