Mr. Sun’s Hatbox is undoubtedly one of the wackiest games I’ve played this year. Developed by Kenny Su and published by Raw Fury, I was constantly laughing at how many layers of zaniness this game had. What surprised me even more was how well its slapstick humor and various gameplay systems all worked together to make a wholly unique experience.
Mr. Sun runs a hat store. He orders a box of new hats from an online retailer named Amazin. Everything seems to be going well, until his package is stolen by a group of ruffians just as it’s about to be delivered to him. And so, the delivery person goes on a mission to retrieve the package from the group who stole it, for it is his duty.
I love how quickly Mr. Sun’s Hatbox dives deep into the weird and wacky. Before the end of the tutorial, I was already snapping necks and stealing hats off the bodies of criminals. As you journey to retrieve Mr. Sun’s stolen package, you’ll brave a series of unique environments, all home to members of the criminal organization behind the theft. The characters and locations inspire a lot of the game’s funniest moments.
Mr. Sun’s Hatbox is essentially a grab bag of video game genres and mechanics. It’s level design is classic platforming, with the player ascending or descending through a stage to reach an exit. Kenny Sun injects this with roguelite elements, as there is an abundance of loot and gear to gather along the way. Most of which is taken from the enemies that you face. In stealth game fashion, you can sneak up on an enemy and jump on their head Mario-style to knock them unconscious. Once they’re at your mercy, you can kill them, take their hat, and steal their weapon.
Each hat in Mr. Sun’s Hatbox has a unique design and gameplay boost. You can also pick up just about any object and use it as a weapon. In one instance, my gun ran out of ammo, so I grabbed a box and flung it at an enemy. After knocking them out, another enemy showed up, and I beat him with a baguette. Since my cover was blown and the alarm was sounding, more enemies kept showing up, and I was laughing just as hard as I was panicking about being able to make it out of the level alive.
Working hard or hardly working
In between missions, you can expand your HQ, building new facilities and hiring people to join your squad. After Mr. Sun’s Hatbox has already shown you a couple of genres, it’s also a base-builder. Each character that you hire has quirks, which give them a positive or negative bonus in battle. For example, one of my characters had a quirk called Tight Grip, which caused them to instantly snap the neck of any enemy they grabbed. If a character died during a mission, they were gone forever, adding to my stress levels whenever a mission started to go sideways.
The facilities you build help you build and maintain your workforce. For example, the Med Bay is used to heal injured workers, while the Brig can turn captured enemies into allies. There is also a storage room, where captured hats and gear will be stored. You can select which items to take with you during a mission, but like characters, lost items are not retrievable.
Mr. Sun’s Hatbox is deceptively challenging, particularly early on when you’re trying to get your HQ off the ground and build your inventory of gear. The available characters typically have more negative quirks than positive ones, so it feels like you’re immediately behind the 8-ball. The game felt more difficult earlier on, but things straightened out as I earned more resources and expanded my roster of characters.
Employee of the month
Mr. Sun’s Hatbox is charming and funny as hell. As silly as it is, the game is quite clever in the way it melds systems together, constantly introducing something new to juggle or consider when planning a mission or expanding your base. Its roguelite elements raise the stakes of every heist and make every success feel all the sweeter. While some balancing issues led to early frustrations, Mr. Sun's Hatbox is an impressive little package.
This review is based on a Steam code provided by the publisher. Mr. Sun's Hatbox is available now for PC Nintendo Switch.
Mr. Sun's Hatbox
- Cleverly combines multiple genres and systems
- Countless laugh-out-loud moments
- Challenging combat
- Frustrating balancing and difficulty scaling at times
Donovan Erskine posted a new article, Mr. Sun's Hatbox review: A tip of the hat