Game Review: Hue

Hue is color-shifting fun with a striking visual aesthetic that makes it stand out.

The world has been robbed of its color and it is up to young Hue to restore it. He will traverse dungeons and the wild to do it and along the way, he will collect fragments of color which will allow him to solve puzzles and find his way. Hue is the 2D platformer from developer Fiddlesticks and publisher Curve Digital that utilizes and unique color matching system to solve puzzles. The bright colors catch the eye in a simple visual style making puzzles as beautiful as they are challenging.

Narrative

The story can be downplayed if you are not the sort pay too much attention to narrator or subtitles. The puzzles are not connected beyond explaining why you are using this color-matching mechanic, but doing so would be a missing opportunity as it is an emotionally impactful tale. 

Hue, the title character, is on a quest to collect color fragments to restore a world that has been drained of all color. At the beginning of our tale, it appears the mysterious Dr. Grey has tampered with the colors to disastrous ends. Out of context, it seems like an absurd and playful premise but Hue is anything but.  This world is dark and not just because it is in black and white. There is a great sense of loss and Hue’s mission is recover the missing pieces.  

Hue Narrative

The playfulness of the simple art style and cartoonish graphics and animations of Hue is layered on top of a sad and touching story. Hue progresses through literal dungeons, complete with chains and skeletons, and unravels the sad story of Dr. Grey. As you progress you will find letters that reveal more of the story and why the world is missing all of its colors. The narrator shares pieces of the story with vulnerability and the music is almost morose. Ultimately it is a tragic love story.

Gameplay

Hue is a 2D puzzle platformer. It has many of the classic tropes of platform games including, manipulating platforms to gain access or moving obstacles that require fine-tuned timing to overcome. What Makes Hue unique is its use of the color spectrum to create puzzles that are as intricate as they are beautiful.

Progress is made by shifting between the different spectrums: blue, orange, aqua, pink, purple, red, yellow, and lime. Switching to a spectrum makes objects painted in that spectrum disappear against the backdrop. This allows the player to avoid obstacles and rearrange game pieces to solve puzzles. Players can also reveal missing objects by shifting away from that spectrum allowing you to find doors or platforms.

Hue_Screenshot_Spectrum

The game is made up of a combination of tradition puzzles and segments that require quickly shifting to the right color. This color matching system can make platforming very complicated especially once you have collected multiple colors. Players need to think not just in terms of movement or timing but also in multiple dimensions. Colors add layers to every puzzle and the only way to progress is through applying the colors to manipulate the world.

For players who may suffer color blindness,  Fiddlesticks has thought about that too. The game can be played in a colorblind mode to make it accessible for those players. The mode adds symbols to the objects that correspond to the color sets. Players can match symbols in the same way others would match colors.

Hue_Screenshot_Lighthouse_colorblind
Hue adds color blind support through symbols to help players who have trouble distinguishing the colors but still maintains its aesthetic.

Performance & Graphics

Hue plays very smoothly and its simple geometric design is easy on your PC. What makes it particularly stand out is how the different colors stand out on the black backgrounds.  They almost seem luminescent and it is striking.

Personally, I found the keyboard controls a little awkward but they are responsive. The game has controller support on the PC, which actually feels a bit more natural, so if you prefer you can switch to your favorite controller.

Hue_Screenshot_SkullsAndGoo

Audio

The audio in Hue lingers in the background. It is never the foremost thing in this puzzler but it does create an eerie atmosphere. The quiet piano track is almost haunting and couples well with the tone of the story. There is not much voice work, but when you find letters you will find them narrated with a subtle vulnerability and sense of loss.

Final Thoughts

Despite its simple visual style, Hue is an intricate and challenging platformer. The use of colors to solve puzzles is a different approach which has the added benefit of creating a striking visual impression.  The colors leap off the screen even when there is very little of them. Ultimately Hue is a lot of fun. Coupled with a beautiful story about love and loss Hue leaves a lasting impression on the player.

Score: 9

Hue is available for PS, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One

This article first appeared on DVSGaming.org

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