*DISCLAIMER: ALL VIEWS IN THIS REVIEW ARE MY OWN AND DO NOT COME FROM THE COMPANY THAT HAS KINDLY PROVIDED THE GAME*
Hue is a, “vibrant, award-winning puzzle-adventure, where you alter the world by changing its background colour. You explore a dangerous grey land, unearthing coloured fragments on a journey to find your missing mother. As obstacles match the background, they disappear, creating new and exciting puzzles – full of peril, mystery… and colours unseen.” – Steam Page
My experience with Hue has definitely been a pleasant one. This game is the first game developed by Fiddlesticks Games and was published by Curve Digital who have published games including Thomas Was Alone, Action Henk, 10 Second Ninja X and Dear Esther. This roster of games should have been the first hint at how much of a great game, Hue, would turn out to be. Hue was released on the 30th August and, at the time of writing, has 100% reviews on Steam.
The story follows a boy called, “Hue”, who is in search for his mother who is lost within impossible colours. In Hue’s universe, everyone can only perceive different shades of grey. This is until Hue’s mother, “Anna”, creates the Annular Spectrum; a ring in which you can change the colour of the world around you. However, Dr. Grey wanted to destroy the Annular Spectrum and now your mother is missing. Hue must assemble the ring and find his mother without attracting the attention of Dr.Grey.
Though the premise seems quite simple at first, the story in this game is entirely engaging. The story is told through letters that you find from your mother. These letters lead you into a much deeper story then the one I had imagined when starting this game. As there is not a specific, “lead writer”, in the credits of the game, I don’t know who to thank for the excellent idea, concept and the beautiful execution of the story with the wonderful plot-twist at the end. To whom ever was responsible for the narrative of this game, I would like to congratulate you fine sir for making me think way too deeply about colours and how people perceive them in different ways.
The gameplay is what you would expect from a story like this; a puzzle platformer. You are prompted when launching the game that a controller is recommended and that is what I used for my 7 hours of playing. However after playing for an extra hour on keyboard and mouse, there is no problem with these controls and they actually feel very intuitive and responsive.
The Annular Spectrum:
The main chunk of this game is collecting all of the pieces of the Annular Spectrum; the ring in which you can see and control colour. You change colours by either holding [LEFT CLICK] and using your mouse the navigate the ring of colours. Or, if you are using the preferred controller, just holding the [LEFT STICK] in any direction will do exactly the same. Personally, I prefer using the controller for this as it is a lot easier to complete the platforming and change colour at the same time with the controller than the mouse.
After picking a colour, you background changes to that said colour and any obstacle that is the same colour now becomes transparent and blends with the background; this allows you to pass through the once impassible obstacle.
As this is a puzzle platformer, I should probably talk about the puzzles within the game. Like most puzzle games, there are moments of frustration as some puzzles you can’t solve instantaneously. However, with this game, a good 3/5 of the game is relatively easy compared to the average puzzle platformer that I’ve played. This may be good for some people, but for those looking for a tricky puzzle games with colour, this probably isn’t the game for you. I would probably say that this game is more about the story and the meaning behind what is going on compared to the puzzles. To be honest, I think this game was originally a book or screenplay that was changed into a game, but in my opinion, the puzzles are good enough so they don’t become boring and have little bits of frustration near the end.
As the game progresses, more mechanics are added to the game to make the puzzling more difficult. It isn’t just new moving platforms or different obstacles, but the 8 different colours that you obtain by the end of the game, create a quick switching and tricky environment to work with.
Whenever there is a letter on the ground that you have to read, the environment that you are in, is a barren one. Obviously the designer thought that so the player stayed connected with the story, their entire attention should be on the plot when it is delivered. However, the way that they do this is by putting you in a very long corridor that is the just the right size that if you keep moving, the letter will end by the time you reach the end of that said corridor. For this reason, I would suggest that you don’t hang around whilst listening to the letters and instead move at a quick pace so you can continue puzzle platforming your way through the game. That is probably one of my only negatives about the game as I would have preferred a small puzzle or an interesting environment to look around whilst I listened to the letter.
The “Mysterious Fun Secret Beakers”
These beakers are what drag the total running time over 6 hours. I comfortably completed the game in a quite small 3-4 hours. For £12, this may put quite a few people off as for that price, they are expecting a game that has at least 6-8 hours of content. I believe the developers realised this a decided to put what every other open world, puzzle platformer put in their games; collectibles. Specifically, the “Mysterious Fun Secret Beakers”. These little containers are all over the game world and to collect all 28 of them, I replayed the game 2.5 times… I’m not saying that I didn’t like replaying the game as I was quite interested in the story and wanted to check if I had missed anything. However, within the groups of puzzles, there are parts where you cannot get to a location because you require a certain colour; that you don’t have. This means that after obtaining the colour, you must go back to the beginning of the puzzle group where you found the secret area, and proceed to complete all of the puzzles again until you get to this room. This can become quite annoying as constantly doing the same puzzles over and over again for containers that don’t unlock anything except an achievement, can seem quite pointless. Nonetheless, I found all 28 and obtained the achievement…woop.
I think it’s good to mention the fact that this game supports colour blind options, which will make the colours have a unique symbol on them so the player can distinguish the different colours apart. I thought this was a good and thoughtful option to include and therefore, I thought it was worth a mention. I should also mention the fact that there is only one save file, which can become quite frustrating for someone like me, who needs to go back in the game to analyse certain parts and instead of jumping to that specific part, I have to completely start the game again. However, for casual players, this shouldn’t be a problem.
The overall quality of this game is absolutely outstanding. Tech wise, this game was running on my system at a steady 1000+ FPS; I would say that that classifies as a smooth running game. As there isn’t much camera movement, I also detected no screen tear on my monitor that I was running at 60 Hz.
The environment in this game is very well designed and beautifully coloured. The overall colour pallet in general is amazing and I love the choices of all 8 colours that you obtain in the game.
The environment is also slightly dynamic, which I thought was a completely unnecessary feature, but it just makes me love the game even more at the fact that it is in. They could have just made the background static, but they instead give me the ability to completely wreck someone’s house and move chains!
All characters in this game are very well designed and I absolutely love the fact that Hue’s quiff bobs up and down when walking and moves separately when jumping. This was another feature which I thought was unnecessary, but I’m very happy that they put it in.
This game also becomes quite meta with the narration referring to the fact that they are in a two dimensional plane and she was wondering, “Imagine if there was a 3rd dimension!”.
The soundtrack in this game isn’t the best one that I’ve heard in an “emotional” puzzle game, but it definitely does the job at setting the tone and slightly calming the player when the puzzles get a bit frustrating. That being said, the OST isn’t that varied and can become quite repetitive, but as the player, I didn’t really notice it until I was listening to it for a few hours whilst writing this review.
The sound quality in Hue is pretty standard with ambient sounds in the background and sound effects for environment collisions and movement. What really stands out in the sound however is the voice acting.
“Anna Acton” is the actress who plays the mother in the game. There are absolutely zero criticisms to be made to her performance as well. The calm and soft voice that she uses really immerses the player and makes them think that they are Hue and their mother is talking to them. The pacing and the emotion that this actress uses to portray Hue’s mother is amazing and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out as I was completely engrossed in the plot and all of the stories that the mother was telling me.
The actor who played Dr.Grey, “Matthew Wade”, was also pretty good though he was only actually talking for a very brief time. The way they spoke made it really believable that he was my father and the other voice was my mother.
Hue is a puzzle platformer that exceeds in telling an emotional story about a mother and son. The mechanics in the game are intriguing and fun to work with; and the design of the entire game fits with the game very well. Though some people may think that the story was over ambitious or the puzzles were too easy or repetitive, I personally loved the story and thought it was very well executed. Though later puzzles were quite frustrating, most puzzle games are so I wouldn’t call it a criticism. The only criticism that I would give this game is that the running time is quite short for a game that is going to cost the user £12; the audio can also become quite repetitive, but it is the puzzles that are supposed to be intriguing, not the soundtrack. The voice acting is superb and I am overall very happy with how this game turned out and I would very highly recommend this game to all who are reading, maybe at a discounted price if you think £12 is too steep.
|Story||A beautifully written story which is engaging and quite heart-breaking.||Story sections include no gameplay so don’t wait around while you hear it.|
|Gameplay||Very nice controls that feel very responsive and the overall design is elegant.||Only problem is that some puzzles can become quite repetitive, but it’s not bad.|
|Quality||Wonderful colour pallet and character designs. Overall level designs are also good.||N/A|
|Music/Sound||Very calming music that is ambient and tense. Very good voice acting also.||The track does loop which isn’t really a problem, but that is still there.|
Review by Sam Elliott