Review | Hue

Review: Hue (PS4 version reviewed)

Have you ever felt like your whole world is just shades of grey? That you are aimlessly wondering around just looking to find the colour that will make you whole again, the colour that will manipulate the world around you and allow to you to puzzle your way to platformer victory? Then Hue is the game for you.

Hue Puzzle
The game’s striking artwork is present from the very first, simple, puzzle.

Even from the launch screen it’s clear this is a gorgeous game, both aesthetically and practically. With a distinct Limbo-meets-Braid feel about it, Hue is easy to play and hard to put down. The combination of teaching through play and slowly unveiling a story, steeped in mystery, through collectable envelopes means that you’re never distracted from play. The hero of the piece starts out as your controllable character, Hue, battling through a dreary and hostile world, but eventually becomes the colours themselves as the world becomes gradually more beautiful, interactive and enjoyable.

Each time a story envelope is collected, instead of interrupting your gameplay, you listen with the backdrop of a level with no obstacles, allowing for a fluid narrative to be established. The story was intriguing enough not to fade into the background during these levels, however I felt it could have gone a little deeper, and I was slightly confused when I got to the end, although this may have just been me.

The music is non-invasive, and reflects what going on in the level, building and reaching crescendos during particularly challenging puzzles. Playing on the PS4 also adds a colour change on the controller which mirrors the colour currently being used, which is a nice little extra. IT would have been nice to see the music a little bit more integrated with the gameplay as after a while I stopped noticing it was there at all.

The puzzles themselves are well thought out, and become more and more challenging as the game progresses and you acquire more colours to work with. The last few puzzles were amazing, and I felt a real sense of achievement when I’d completed them. You really get the sense that your brain is being given a proper workout, but nothing ever feels unfair or unsolvable. The requirement to change between colours during jumps is handles well, with the opening of the colour wheel triggering a slow-down of time, meaning you have enough time to change, but are still affected by a time limit, adding a sense of urgency, and a feeling akin to being a superhero after making a particularly difficult jump-colour-change-combo.

New mechanics are introduced slowly, with a simplified form to start you off after a new colour is collected. The lack of tutorials is excellent, and adds to the feeling that this game just flows from start to finish. Even at the very start, when you are introduced to the basic controls. This game does its teaching efficiently, and is never overbearing, which is a fine art to master.

Hue Puzzle
These puzzles be cray-cray

The addition of non-essential collectables is a good decision, increasing the replayability of the game, and encouraging you to revisit areas you’ve previously completed when you’ve collected new colours to work with using the hub world which introduced as you make progress. Unfortunately the hub is not the easiest to find your way around and I found myself thinking ‘I wish I had a map’, which I eventually found hidden away in the options menu – it would be great if this were more prominent when you hit the hub world, particularly as is has been really attractively and usefully created.

Hue Colourblind mode
Colour-blind mode

Whist searching for the map, I found colour-blind mode, which has been very well thought out, considering the whole game relies on a colour palette with increasingly subtle shades as you collect more (pink, red and purple are sometimes particularly difficult to distinguish between in a rush). I ended up playing the later levels with this mode enabled, and found that it was definitely a good choice for trickier colour changes.

The controls (on PS4 at least) are simple, using one analogue stick to move, and one to bring up your colour wheel and change between colours. After a hour of gameplay you can master colour changes down to a flick of your right thumb whilst still moving quickly through the level, which feels smooth and satisfying.

Unfortunately, on occasion the analogue-based controls felt a little too inaccurate for fast-paced gameplay even when I had learned the position of the colours, and had the quick flick-to-colour manoeuvre down, if the game didn’t register the position correctly or fast enough it would change to an unintended colour or simply stay the same, which was particularly frustrating during jumps. I did like the fact that if you bring up the colour wheel whilst you’re overlapping a block you can’t change colour, but you see an overlay which shows you the position of all blocks, hidden or visible, which is useful for planning your next move.

Overall, I really enjoyed Hue. The story is well thought out, the gameplay flows smoothly from puzzle to puzzle and the difficultly level is challenging without being unfair. Fiddlesticks have managed to create the whole package in a nicely presented world in a very respectable 6-7 hours’ worth of gameplay all from their debut game, and I will definitely be revisiting the game to enjoy it further (and obviously grab the collectables I missed).

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