Award-winning, colour-orientated games aren’t exactly saturating the current gaming market and so, when one does pop up, people tend to take notice with a sense of intrigue. The game in question is Fiddlesticks’ indie title Hue, which looks to captivate gamers as a refreshing colour-centric, 2D puzzle-platformer. Will it brighten up our lives and provide a suitable experience for all to enjoy?
Hue is, as you would presume, the main character and he awakens in a greyscale world, all alone, except for a handful of townspeople. Where’s his mother gone? She’s nowhere to be seen, leading to little Hue heading off on a journey of discovery within this black and white world to find her. He’s no normal kid though, as unlike the rest of the people he encounters, his mind sees far more than black and white, and he’s about to unearth a spectrum of colours – with a bit of help from his mother’s research, which just so happens to be spread across the world. How fortunate.
Without spoiling too much, Hue will progressively come across different colours that get added to a colour palette. Using the Right Stick, players can switch to any colours which are already unlocked and the whole outlook on the world changes accordingly. Something simple early on would be a huge aqua coloured rock placed in the way, and by swapping from the bland greyscale backdrop to the wonderfully vibrant aqua, the object’s physical state will be altered like it’s not even there anymore. Pretty neat isn’t it? That’s barely scratching the surface of the magical palette of many colours though.
The platforming element sounds simple at first, having to jump across gaps or up to an exit door, high up in an area. When you factor in the platforms being different colours it becomes an entirely new beast and you wouldn’t believe the reflexes needed to jump before quickly switching colours on the palette to ensure there’s something to land on. Now imagine there are boulders chasing you and the amount of concentration needed to move forwards, identify the threat colour, locate it on the palette and then evade it. It’s crazy, and a little tricky to get to grips with the small windows of opportunity, even with a slow-down when accessing the colours. A great twist on standard platforming but when a lot of colours are in-play, choosing the wrong colour can be deadly.
For as charming as Hue is, there are still plenty of pitfalls included to end his barely-lived life. These come in the form of spikes, lasers, boulders and skull-crushing skulls, as well as bottomless pits. There are more threats to take notice of whilst platforming, however, the real challenge is in staying alive AND solving puzzles.
Most of the time, travelling through the areas from door to door, the whole picture isn’t completely on show. Cycling through the amazingly vivid backgrounds often bring an appearance of objects to move, platforms to ascend and opens up sections that may be hiding a key to move onto the next part. Navigating through colours to avoid lasers, sometimes changing the actual colour of an object to make it more useful and working out how the palette will be your best friend, are all key to solving the rather daunting scenes of major obstruction.
An example of this would be having to lure a ground-smashing skull to try and squash you, make it invisible and then visible again to hitch a ride. Then, it may get you to grab a moveable box to bring down to the bottom, in order to place it on top of spikes for safe passage whilst you turn off the lasers, either manually or by blending them into the background. After that you can grab the key and do some more thinking to reach the exit. Believe me, it’s a lot more enjoyable and testing than I could ever explain, with eureka moments aplenty, despite it being daunting at first glance.
On the visual front, I’m neither easily pleased nor displeased in general, but in the case of Hue I absolutely adore the deepness of the colours which are simply delightful on the eyes. Whether it’s the vivacious orange, pink or lime selected on the palette, they all offer a relaxing back-drop and this mixed with the soundtrack really counteracts any potentially stressful moments of failure.
Although the narration provided by Hue’s mother – voiced by Anna Acton – is of a professional standard and on occasion was rather soothing on the ear, I’m not sure it had the desired effect of delivering the narrative of the game successfully. Basically, the dialogue itself didn’t bring enough to the story in order to help it stand out amongst the excelling areas of visuals and gameplay. There’s definitely a tale of wonderment, love and loss in there, but the story really took a backseat because, as a gamer, I was more eager to reach the next mind-boggling puzzle to overcome, so not an awful lot of the philosophical sounding voiceover was taken in. It’s unusual, as I love a good story, however, you can take a positive spin on that in it being due to the gameplay stealing the limelight.
A very important note for anyone feeling like they’ll be left in the lurch should they suffer from colour-blindness, Hue has a solution up its sleeve. Switching the colour-blind mode on will add little symbols to help differentiate all the colours and shades, in order to tell them apart. It doesn’t do much for me personally, but that’s a possible game-changer for some of you.
There’s no doubt Hue was an absolute joy to play, especially with its visually beautiful colours and clever way of using them. All the additional features are brought in over time, much like the colours, and this keeps Hue fresh from start to finish. Although you can be wrapping it up within a few hours, there are lots of clever puzzles to solve and even a dash of replayability with the inclusion of collectibles. The story didn’t disappoint, however it didn’t blow me away either as much as I did enjoy the soothing tone of the narration.
Stop seeing the world through the eyes of others and give Hue’s outlook a look, you won’t be disappointed. I saw colour as vivid as I’ve ever done before, now it’s your turn!