By Jason Quinn / November 29th, 2016
|Release Date||August 30th, 2016|
|Platform||PC, PS4, Xbox One|
|Age Rating||ESRB E for Everyone|
Hue is a 2D puzzle platformer where you have the ability to change the color of the background. The game world is primarily black and white with differently colored objects strewn about. Should the background and one of the objects share the same color, that object will phase out of existence. This allows you to traverse through the world and solve its various puzzles.
It might sound complicated at first, but it starts off pretty slow and easy. Using this mechanic allows you to phase in and out objects as you need to. At its simplest, you will do things like phase out walls that are blocking your way, or phase in platforms that weren’t there before. The game starts out with only one color available and you slowly work your way up to eight. Hue adds more and more complex obstacles as it goes on, which keeps things interesting.
Hue is built entirely around this single mechanic, and it makes very good use of it. From simply phasing out walls, to dodging colored rocks rolling down at you, there’s very little this mechanic doesn’t explore. Switching color is done entirely with the right analog stick, where each available color is mapped to a specific direction. If the stick is held in a direction, time is slowed down, allowing you to think about what you want to do. During this slowed time, every object appears on screen regardless of what color it is. This allows you to really take in the whole level and plan accordingly. Also, for those that may be color blind, there is an option in the game that takes this into account. Turning this option on adds some little symbols on each color, allowing you to use that to tell them apart.
Hue has a Metroidvania-esque structure. Levels are all connected, and blocked off areas become available when a certain color is obtained. That said, backtracking to previous areas presents little value outside of obtaining some collectables scattered about the game. If you’re a completionist, you might want to keep track of areas you can’t access so you can double back. If you don’t particularly care, you can go through the game in more or less a straight line.
Despite the layers of complexity it has, the game remains fairly easy most of the time. With many puzzles early on, the solution is usually fairly obvious. All of the puzzles have only one solution, so there’s very little room for experimentation. The platforming in this game is extremely basic as well. There are no tricky jumps or anything that requires very dextrous fingers. Death in this game is more of an annoyance than anything else. Dying simply puts you back at the start of the room, with the puzzle being reset. You can also reset the room from the start menu should you feel you’ve messed the puzzle up.
Hue takes awhile to really get going, as the more interesting obstacles don’t show up until the second half of the game. Fortunately the game is only about 6 hours long, so you just need to deal with it for a few hours and you’ll see Hue really use its mechanic to the fullest. Unfortunately, the game starts getting most interesting right around the time the story starts to get a little thin. The last third or so of the game it can feel tiring with puzzle after puzzle, getting more complex as they go on.
There is a story that ties this world together and it is fairly compelling. There are envelopes at various points in the game, and collecting them will start a monologue from a character talking about the world in which you reside. The rooms you collect them in are just these long, empty hallways, presumably to make it so you can be on the move, but still get the story bits. The story starts out with just trying to find your invisible mother, but it also reveals some interesting details like the fact that color is something the inhabitants of this world don’t experience. This does bring into question how the colored objects like lasers and fountains of paint came to exist, but I wouldn’t dwell on that.
The visuals of this game exist to supplement the core mechanic. All of the foreground is black, and the background and objects you can interact with change to whatever color you select. This makes the game visually appealing, but also makes it easy to differentiate between what you can and can’t interact with. The character you control follows the same theme; he is solid black with just white dots for eyes. This of course always makes the character stand out from the constantly changing background.
The soundtrack is fairly unremarkable. Most of the music consists of just some slow, mellow pianos. The positive to this is that it never distracts you when you’re trying to find the solution to a puzzle. It’s certainly pleasant to listen to, but I feel like there could have at least been some more variety as all the songs sound rather samey.
Overall, this is a puzzle platformer with a very large emphasis on the puzzle part. While it is fairly easy, finding solutions is still satisfying, and it puts its core mechanic to very good use. It never reaches any amazing levels, but I had a smile going throughout the game. It doesn’t have any egregious problems, though the lack of experimentation and low difficulty was a bit of a bummer. Hue is pretty affordable at just $15, so if you’re in the mood for a relaxing puzzle platformer with a neat gimmick, this should suit you.
Review copy provided by the publisher
Curve DigitalFiddlesticksHuePCplatformerPS4puzzleXbox One