Add a splash of colour to your puzzle platforming.
Puzzle platformers are a plentiful genre that can be found on every gaming platform, so it can be quite difficult to find a game in the genre that offers something different. Hue, from developer Fiddlesticks and publisher Curve Digital, uses colour manipulation as its core mechanic, and it does so to great effect.
Players take on the role of Hue, a young boy who exists as a silhouette in a black and white world. A note left by his mother, who was involved in the research of colour and has since disappeared, spurs Hue into a quest to find here. Further notes are found along the way, building the story as the mother explains her research and the events that led to her disappearance, each of which is narrated so the player doesn’t have to stop playing while the story evolves.
Controlling Hue in his environment is a simple matter, with the left stick controlling movement and only two buttons to use, one for jumping and the other to interact with objects. However, it is when Hue comes across the first part of the Annular Spectrum, a magical color-changing ring, that things get interesting.
The ring doesn’t change colour itself, but rather changes the colour of the background. It starts easily, with only a single colour. The player moves the right stick, which reveals a ring while also slowing down the action on screen to give players a chance to select the chosen colour. The first thing that the player has to overcome is a light blue coloured rock blocking the way, and of course the first colour that the player can control is light blue. So, with a simple flick of the right stick to the appropriate place on the colour ring, the background changes to light blue and the rock disappears. It is this simple concept that controls all of the puzzles in Hue.
Fairly quickly players will find another part of the ring, offering another colour to play with. As they progress, more and more colours will be added to the ring, and the puzzles become more and more complex. Much of the game will come down to players remembering where on the colour ring each colour is, and being able to switch quickly between them. To add accessibility for those having trouble distinguishing between certain colours, as some are very close, a colour blind mode can be turned on which applies symbols to the different colours, making them easier to distinguish.
The puzzles themselves come in two different types. The first, and perhaps the most difficult, are the quick platform type puzzles which will involve players having to switch colours as they jump, or as boulders roll towards them, to make further platforms appear or boulders disappear. These sequences, where players may find themselves leaping towards certain death as they try to make platforms appear beneath them, can be incredibly tense. They can also be frustrating when the player makes a wrong colour selection towards the end of a sequence, but failure only leads to the player starting that room again.
The second type of puzzles are more thoughtful in design. These are the ones where the player will have the chance to plan in advance and work out exactly where to move things to and such in order to progress. These puzzles rely less on the twitch platforming and more on being able to plan things through effectively.
While none of the puzzles in the game, which can be completed in around five hours, are especially taxing, there are more than a few moments that will have most players pause and think about what they have to do. This is very true in the second half of the game, once the player has unlocked all of the colours and the puzzles are making use of them.
The visuals in Hue have a familiarity that many puzzle platform players will pick up on. But that familiarity is then shattered by the bold colours of foreground objects and the changing colour of the background. Hue is a very nice looking game. The game also has a great piano soundtrack that fits in well with the underlying story.
Hue is a puzzle platformer that is just a little bit different from the norm. With lovely visuals that also form the core mechanic of the game, enjoyable puzzles and a charming story, Hue is a great puzzle platformer that deserves to be played by any fan of the genre.