Upon first seeing Hue developed by Fiddlesticks my first thought was “oh, that looks like a cute puzzler”, what I was not expecting was a fantastic puzzle game with a solid story that was asking some pretty profound questions. Hue is a game about a boy (10 bucks says you can guess his name) who is in search of his mother who asked Hue to seek her out if he so chooses. I know that’s vague, but that’s literally all you have to go on in the beginning. Going in blind though is the best way to approach this game. While certain parts of this article might spoil aspects of the game, it won’t ruin the key moments, nor the game in general. Plus, Hue is just too adorable of a game not to like.
Simply put, Hue is a platformer that uses a basic color wheel (simple rainbow) to alter the environment around you so you can move through the world. This is what sold me. Color. I’m big on color, so a game where I am actually using color to do anything will always be worth my time. Starting out though, there’s not a color to be found, and that’s were the first half of the game lies. When booting up Hue you will be greeted with a cold stark reality of black, grey, and white. Before finding any color though you will find a letter from your mother, explaining the situation and that you most certainly belong to the mono world. So, nothing is out of the ordinary, things are exactly as they should be. This is where the game gets clever though, and I applaud it for the questions its asking. Hue is not just a game about color, it’s also a game about how we view our reality around us, whoa, curve ball! I was not expecting this from the game, but I was definitely on board now. Not only was it laying sold ground for a story, but there was some real emotional weight behind it.
Arriving at your home, located in a wherever seaside town (boy is it bleak) you need to find some color, especially after reading your mothers letter. Luckily, the first piece of the color wheel is close by. Once collected the game shows you the only thing you will be doing the rest of the game. Altering the color of your world so you can move forward. You bet your bottom dollar you should put on those rose colored glasses. Soon you’re off and running, and for a good portion of the game you will be filling out this color wheel with the rest of the rainbow. It’s not until your second color that the game throws another clever twist at you. It starts going into the history of color. Just one more thing selling me on the whole experience! The history doesn’t get too complex making it easy to digest. Presented in audio format by your mother she proceeds to explain something unique to that colors history with each successive color you pick up. Again, I’m a color nerd so this was such an unexpected treat that only made the game more vibrant (see what I did there). Like I said, I won’t ruin a single thing, just know that if you don’t know a lot about color going in, you’ll walk away with some cool facts.
Being a platformer Hue makes ample use in its mechanic of changing the background color so you can move from puzzle to puzzle. What starts as needing blue to make a box visible soon becomes a switch off between multiple colors so you may proceed through the room. The controls are easy to match so you won’t be fumbling around trying to go from one color to another. Any mistakes you make will be fully your own, and not being quick enough on the draw or thinking the puzzle through. I did encounter a few puzzles where certain aspects were to close together, making changing between colors frustrating but nothing that burned me. It’s important to pay attention to lines though. I know that sounds strange but certain line ratios, especially later in the game, when you have multiple colors so close together, were hard to get around. This game is bright, so keep that in mind. Also one more reason its genius for focusing on color and reality. I do not see color the same way you do dear readers, nor does anybody on the face of the planet. Red might be red to both of us, but it will always be a slightly different shade based on our eyes. While I’m talking on this, it is important to mention, there is a color blind mode! A nice feature, that’s obvious for a game dealing in color.
After collecting the full color wheel (which is awesome by the way), the real puzzle aspects of the game show themselves. Rather quickly you are switching between multiple colors many times for one room. The game introduces a slew of puzzle elements that you will consistently have to proceed through. Whether it be lasers, giant skulls that will crush you, or even trampolines that will change color each time you jump on them, Hue proves itself to be an honest puzzler that keeps you on your toes but also makes you pause to think. As with any good puzzle game, I got stuck on more than one puzzle, but nothing was so hard that I wasn’t able to figure it out in a timely manner. There were a few puzzles that definitely gave me more trouble than they should have been, but again, that was not the game’s fault just my own. Hue did seem to start to drag towards the end and what was an enjoyable experience soon became rinse ‘n repeat. Their might have been just a one to many puzzles in this game making the game feel a little long for an indie puzzler. I definitely wanted to wrap it up, especially towards the end, that feeling of a revolving door with different parts kicking in each time increased. Other than this minor issue the game still manages to stay relatively short. It will most certainly depend on how long you spend on each puzzle.
Narratively the game wraps itself up with a decent ending, although certain parts don’t click the way they should have, leaving me feeling slightly let down by the search for my mother. What I thought was one thing turned out to be a whole other thing. Because it’s a puzzle game I understand why certain narrative elements didn’t quite fit, but they could have fleshed it out a little better. I did enjoy that the game chooses to focus on how one might view reality the whole time, they approached this in an intelligent manner, and left me asking some questions of my own about how I view my world. Any game that can make one think is always worth a look, especially when you are thinking about it even a few days later.
To Sum Up
Hue is a cool puzzle game that nails the puzzle elements it brings to the table. Narratively it was solid but could have used a bit more grounding when it came to the ending. Being that it was asking some pretty profound things I appreciated it none the less. If you are looking for a short puzzle game with smart gameplay mechanics, paired with a good story, then Hue would definitely be in your wheelhouse. Just be prepared that it might start to feel weighted down towards the end, as if you’re doing the same thing over and over just in a different shade.
Hue is available now on XBOX|PS4|PSVITA|PC
The author reviewed it on PS4 and if you’re looking to get Hue check it out here.