Developer: Fiddlesticks Games
Publisher: Curve Digital
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS Vita
Tested on: Xbox One
Hue – Review
The award-winning video game Hue is a vibrant single-player adventurous puzzle platformer developed by Fiddlesticks Games in which you alter the world by changing the background colour. The protagonist, Hue, goes on an quest to find his lost mother but the world is in greyscale while the universe is filled with impossible colours. You need to alter your perception of these colours on the fly. An unseen mechanic that is perfectly designed.
In the universe of Hue, everyone can only see in greyscale. Hue’s mother was a scientist at the university and during her research for colours, she developed a mysterious ring called the Annulus Spectrum. This ring allows the wearer to alter and perceive the vibrant colours that we know but her success has attracted enemies. Dr. Grey is one of those enemies and he has done something to Hue’s mother, causing her to turn in a shade one step further than purple on the spectrum and in turn causing her to fade away into the unknown, into a state of invisibility. Hue is beginning to find fragments of the mystical ring which allows him to alter the perception of certain colours and thus his journey for finding his mother begins.
Throughout the levels Hue will find letters from his mother and the storyline continues to unfold, letter by letter. As she explains what has happened to her, and how she felt during the time of her research, you’ll begin to understand what the colour spectrum means to her. She also explains the perception of colours and what it might mean to people, giving the game an in-depth philosophical narrative.
Visually the game is stunning and calls upon your curiosity as you venture this monochrome world, giving it a LIMBO-like aesthetic feeling. Once you’ve found a colour, you can begin to alter the world by changing the background to that specific colour. The rest of the world will still be in greyscale. The monochrome combined with a vibrant colour-scheme felt similar to Toby: The Secret Mine in terms of visuals. At the same time, Hue feels unique in its own way due to its unique colour-matching mechanic that changes the scenery without removing its artistic touch. Defining the visuals has proved to be difficult because it is not cartoon-styled, nor is it realistic. It is simply artistic. The game also has a colour blind mode in which the colours have icons representing that specific colour.
Although the sound design does not change the visual aspect of the game, nor its gameplay like the colour-changing mechanic does, it has not been shoved aside. The ambiance sound is calming and atmospheric, despite the often deadly encounters, and it changes depending on the scenery. When you’re near the sea, you can distinguish the waves hitting mainland while when you’re in the cave, you can hear water trickling down the small waterfalls. Running into objects such as chains hanging from the ceiling will also result into hearing them clang together. Both the ambiance sound and the various sound effects found throughout the game blend perfectly together as they do with the aesthetics of the game.
As mentioned before, the narrative is told via letters that you pick up. Those letters are narrated by Hue’s mother and the voice-over is beautiful, well narrated and plenty of emotions are conveyed in the sound of speech.
Hue is a puzzle platformer and thus the world is littered in various puzzles in which you need to use a colour-matching mechanic to solve the puzzles and advance to the next level. At first you’ll venture in a monochrome world, and once you’ve picked up the colour blue, the puzzling can begin. The foreground colour is pitch black in each level but the background colours can be altered by using your colour spectrum. For example, if you are blocked by a blue create, simply change the colour spectrum to that specific blue and you’ll be able to pass the crate without issues.
Every few levels, a mysterious woman appears and she’ll walk away without saying a word. It is here that you will pick up a new colour that will be added to your rainbow circle. In total there are eight colours to be picked up. Because you do not have all colours available to you at the beginning, the difficulty curve isn’t steep and by the time another colour has been added, you’ll know the position of the previous colours. Changing the colours on your spectrum on the Xbox One is simply done by using your right thumb stick. Turn to the colour you want and let go. The background has now changed to that specific colour. While you’re changing colours on your rainbow circle, time slows down. This mechanic is especially useful during time sensitive levels in which you are followed by rolling balls in the like of Indiana Jones. Hue is most certainly not a speedrunner but the time sensitive elements can really change the way you play the game.
Each level represents a different puzzle. Some are easy to solve, others require some trial and error. Luckily the game gives you the option to re-do the level in case you have messed up, this is especially useful when you have positioned a crate wrong. The game has another safety, giving the player a chance to stay alive, namely that you cannot change into a colour if it means you’ll get stuck in a block. Even if there are safety measures implemented, you can still die from the environment. Bodies of water is something you should stay clear from and falling rocks or crates will put a hole in your head so solving puzzles is easier said than done.
At the moment, the game does not have much replay value in terms of game modes but it has such a nice aesthetic and narrative to it, that you might want to play again soon. There are vials scattered across the levels which you should pick up so if you’d like, these can offer some replay value.
Hue is a wonderful puzzle platformer that has a unique narrative, told in the perspective of the narrator via letters. It also has a stunning aesthetic design to it, both in the visual and audio design and the narrator really conveys emotions. The colour-changing mechanic which allows you to alter the levels to your own advantage is something unheard of and the developers have successfully perfected the new mechanic, creating a whole new puzzle experience. The game has a very LIMBO-esque feel to it while still being unique in its genre so we certainly recommend it to any fan of puzzles and platformers. Its perfection is rare and we absolutely adore it!