More thorough first impressions of the DLC: Probably spoilers. Just skip my wall of text, spoiler tags make the text small >.>
It's bad. The end, go home, see ya. Okay, it's not all bad, but it does have problems. I never thought I'd be saying anything bad about this game, but this DLC has been very polarizing within the HIT community. There were definitely parts, and levels I liked, and enjoyed, but on the whole.. I gotta say, I'm glad this was free when I got it, and I really, really hope this is not what future DLC will look like.
Firstly, I have a slight issue with how the DLC takes your 100% file down to 70%. This sadly means I will never 100% Hat in Time again, cause I know I'm not going to beat some of the later contract levels. I feel that the sharp difficulty spike in this DLC may devalue the original game, if it is included in a "GotY edition" or whatever bundle. The original game, while not overly easy, was never too hard to beat. There were parts where I'd get stuck for a few tries, but nothing seemed outright unfair, or flat out badly designed*. This difficulty spike is literally like going from World 3 in NSMB, straight to World 7 in SMB2J. It's that steep.
This DLC? Well, I hope you like grinding on the same level dozens of times, and hoping you just get lucky on some of these, cause fairness has left alongside good design choices*. Maybe this DLC isn't for me. I'm not a tryhard. I play games to relax, and have fun. Hat in Time was perfect for that, but these new levels are the very antithesis of fun, in some cases. They feel like kaizo fan levels. For the record, I've been talking about the Death Wish levels, not the new chapter, which just you wait, I'll be getting to.
Before I go on, one of the biggest arguments I've seen about this DLC has been along the lines of, "This is too hard/ I can't beat it so it's bad" to which people say "They are challenge level gg, person" which is usually followed by the OP, or someone else saying "It's not about that, this DLC is for a niche group, and it's not fair". I'm mentioning this, cause I feel sentiments from all three camps. I'm really good at the base game. After playing through it again, and starting the DLC a second time, I was able to beat "Beat the Heat", "She's back form outer space", "Distorted Rift: Mafia Town" (or whatever it's called), and the Upped security in Dead Bird Studios (which was one of the few levels I liked, btw). I also enjoyed she's back form outer space, except for one little bit of bullshit at the very end. So yeah, I was able to beat four of these levels without using the easy mode, Peace and Tranquility. Everything else? Too annoying/ frustrating to even attempt more than a few times. So.. I guess I liked half the levels I beat? I will probably chip away at them, and use P&T as needed, but then I feel like a pleeb, even though hat kid takes you to the "No judgement zone" which I'll admit, was really cute, and funny.. the first five times I saw it, anyway. >.>
I simply did not enjoy most of those levels. I'm not going to try to act like I know a lot about game design, but I don't think my lack of enjoyment means these levels are automatically bad though. I've seen people like them. I've seen people actually be good at them. I think it just means that they are not for me. That's where I have a problem though. Who asked for an official challenge mode? Seriously. We have hundreds of fan levels, and mods that offer up all kinds of crazy stuff (those damn mushroom levels, which I did beat >.>). So why make the base game so much less enjoyable for the vast majority of owners to appease a very small group of players? That's what I don't get about it. I can accept that I'm not as good as others, and don't have the patience, but I feel kind of slighted here. I know I shouldn't but it's how I currently feel.
Then, there's the new chapter. I'm not going to go on for as long about this, but on the whole, I love the level's theme, and the music is nice. But, I'm still stuck on that second mission, and at this point, I'm probably not going to finish it. I don't usually whine like this, but it is fucking dumb, unfun bullshit, that I don't want in my game. Chapter 6, Act 2 is garbage*. Absolute*. Garbage*. Uhg. What upsets me is, it didn't have to be. They could have just made a regular level, then kept all the tedious kaizo bullshit to the DW levels, but nope. Hell, keep the fetch quest, just get rid of the time limit completely, or make it use less items, like Act 1. The amount of time it takes to get, say, 18/20 objects in act 2, only to fail is about 15 minutes. Give me a one or two minute challenge level, and that's fine, but ask me to replay a full, tedious sequence of collecting shit, just so I can maybe fail? and do it all again? No. Unfun, bad design*, imo.
Edit: Forgot to mention the Deep Sea time rift. It was really, really hard, but the level was enjoyable for me. I even got all of the photographs. I really loved the look of that level too. It's probably my favorite thing about the DLC.
*Obviously, this is all my own opinion, I'm sure people liked the DLC, and I'm glad that at least some people could enjoy it, but it was definitely not for me.
Still love the base game though, and the more I play it, the more I genuinely think it might be better than Odyssey. There, I said it.