When games use color in unique ways, that’s a big plus for me. Games like INVERSUS, Bear With Me, and INSIDE use the black and white scale very well, and I’m definitely a sucker for that style of game. I love very colorful games, too, of course, but it’s not as appealing to blab about a game that’s very colorful. Maybe “appealing” is the wrong word, but hopefully, you know what I mean. It doesn’t garner much attention when talking about a game being very colorful, because it’s not usually something that ties into what the game is, it’s more just what it looks like. That, and I’ve seen plenty of people dismiss them as “kiddie games”. With Hue, every color of the spectrum is directly tied into the game and how it plays. And it plays very well.
The story of Hue is a simple one. You play as young Hue in a world where everything is black and white, with shades of gray. He sets off trying to find his mother who has been researching the lost color of their world. Throughout the journey, Hue finds letters from his mom, who tells him what she’s feeling, what has happened, and so on. To find her, Hue needs to use his newly discovered Color Ring to swap out colors he finds to change the world around him, solving puzzles along the way.
The first thing you’ll notice is the beautiful main theme for the game. Well, at least it’s the first thing I did. The music in the game is very atmospheric and fits well with what is going on during the moments playing, but the piano tunes especially are ones to marvel at. They go from feeling sad to beautiful to hopeful and anywhere in between so easily. If you enjoy the piano, you’ll love what Alkis Livathinos has come up with. And, guess what? You can enjoy the soundtrack anytime by visiting their Spotify page.
Now obviously, the graphics are a big part of what makes Hue what it is. The stylized artwork does itself a solid, even when dealing with the black and white portions of the world. The character designs, though not a big focus, all look really nice and Hue himself reminds me a bit of the kid from LIMBO (especially some of the death animations). Certainly not a bad thing in my mind. When it comes to the colors, vibrant is an obvious adjective to use, and it’s not wrong. That’s not the only thing it shows off, though. When colors are being used, whether in a puzzle or you just fooling around in the down areas, they bring the already interesting world to life even further. I know that sounds odd (or almost as if it should be a “duh” moment), but the world felt nice even without the shot of color. Once you or the game start introducing more variety in the area, the more engaged the world of Hue felt. Clearly, this is something that a game focused on color should be doing, but we can all point to a mechanic in a game where it should have elevated the experience but it hurt it instead. With Hue, the focus definitely elevates everything to where it should be, to where I would assume the developers envisioned the game to go.
You don’t start off with every color in your Color Ring. You don’t actually start with any. You have to go out and find each one. The first one is a gimme, but every other color is obtained after a series of puzzles utilizing the previous colors you’ve found. Between each area where colors are located, you get further updates and such from your mom via more letters. There’s not much dialogue in the game, but the majority of it comes from her, and it’s wonderfully voiced by Anna Acton. She does a fantastic job with every line she’s delivering and really puts the emotion right where it needs to be. She’s a flawed mother, and she knows it. Coupled with the music these moments where you’re traversing to the next puzzle area while listening to your mother’s words for you are scenes I looked forward to every time. Sadly, we don’t get as much as I would have liked. There’s a nice amount, I just wish we got more because they’re that good.
As far as the puzzles go, they’re what you’d expect for a game like this. They start off rather simple, and the more color you amass, the more you’ll end up using. You’ll be moving colored boxes, avoiding colored lasers, hiding colored balloons, and more while platforming your way to the next “hue” you need to fill your Ring. Nothing is too difficult, though that doesn’t mean everything is a cakewalk, either. There can certainly be some head scratchers. Sometimes you may even realize you were overthinking a puzzle. When you start to get stumped, take a break, come back with a fresh mind, and work on the solution. Often times you’ll find that helped out a great deal. With so much focus on what to swap in and out, you’ll potentially need the time to reset your mind.
So as I said, there’s nothing too difficult in the game, but the head scratchers are mostly relegated to the final bits after you’ve acquired the entire Ring. This is where puzzles get much more involved, with lengthier solutions, where if you make a mistake, you’ll be angry at the progress you’ve lost. What hurts this the most is, while the game does control well the majority of the time, there are instances that I know for certain that I selected the proper color but the game never changed it or it swapped to the wrong one (sometimes on the opposite side of the Color Ring). When this leads to a death on an involved puzzle, you can imagine the frustration. The box moving, climbing, and jumping are all done well, but the swapping, while again, mostly handled well, does have some hiccups to it, which is a shame because that’s the main component you’ll be using.
With a game so entrenched in the need for color, what happens if you’re colorblind? Well, luckily for those afflicted, developer Fiddlesticks Games wasn’t, uh, blind to that possibility. In the options menu, there’s a setting that allows for symbols to be used as well as color for anything who wants or needs it. It works well and I couldn’t imagine anyone having issues if you need that setting on.
If you’re into the Achievements/Trophies, this one has a pretty obtainable list. The only one that isn’t a certainty is the collection of the 28 beakers littered throughout the traversable map. That one could bring you trouble, but when it comes to these kinds of unlocks, you’ll never be short on someone putting a walkthrough up if you don’t have the patience to find them on your own. Oh, and sadly? No Platinum for you PlayStation fans.
Hue is a very enjoyable puzzle game to spend your time with. It’s not overly long in the tooth and you shouldn’t have too much trouble finishing it up. The story was a highlight to see through and while I wish there were more of it, I can’t fault it too much, because it still hits the right notes. If you’re looking for a unique puzzle game to round out your Summer, don’t let this one pass you by. It’s well worth your time.
Hue is available now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for $11.99 (until 9/13/16 – $14.99 after that), and Steam for $14.99. A PS Vita version was announced but has not been released yet. A copy of the game was provided by our friends at Curve Digital for the purpose of this review.
I used a variation of “color” 57 times in this article. Yeeesh…