Hue

Apr 08
Posted by Ben at 14:50

We could have reviewed Hue a while back, back on its PC release we were offered it, but we didnít have the time unfortunately. Itís nice then that going back to it, buying it with my own money, and playing it because I wanted to, has revealed Hue to be a fantastic little game.

Hue is a puzzle platformer, a 2d indie puzzle platformer if you can imagine such a thing. It tells the story of a young boy named Hue, his mum is a brilliant scientist who has discovered a colour beyond the visible spectrum, and has unfortunately lost herself within it. The story is told through letters that sheís left for Hue, and act pretty much as the beginning of chapters. The story is centred on her struggles as a scientist, her regrets, and her realisations. Itís a strange one, thanks to the superb soundtrack (itís really is a standout), the first half of the game feels morose, and I spent that period waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the tragedy to reveal itself. It never really happens, Hue is actually a charming game, relatively philosophical, but itís not as heavy as it initially appeared.

The gameplay is whatís important in Hue, and fortunately it more than stands up. As you progress through the world you systematically pick up colours. Hue can use these colours to change the world around him, meaning things hidden in a blue background will show up in another colour, obstacles or traps or one colour can be made to vanish if you match their colour. In simple terms, expect moments where you have to make a jump and while in midair switch the colour to provide you with a platform to land on. As you progress youíll encounter elements that alter the colour of objects, meaning you have to start thinking on multiple levels rather than just simple timing or block moving puzzles

And thatís Hueís strength, it keeps providing you with something new to think about. ITís very easy initially, instead forcing you to get to grips with switching colours on the move, but it doesnít dwell on a puzzle set for too long, nor does it repeat ideas all that often. The difficulty is pitched almost perfectly too. Thereís definitely a slightly turbulent feel to your progress, youíll be stuck on a taxing puzzle for a while, then race through the next few. Generally though very little of it seems unsolvable. Thereís no hint system, but, and maybe I got lucky, I never really needed it, playing about with the mechanics, trying and failing, would invariably reveal the next step.

It is a criticism I would level at Hue, up until fairly close to the end itís almost immaculately balanced, then it throws a couple of puzzles at you that involve mechanics that havenít been the focus up until then. Iím sure some people will race through the levels that had me stumped without a problem, then get stuck on the ones I tore through, everyoneís different after all, but it was a moment where I could have done with a hint within the game. Thereís a slight feeling that Hue outstays its welcome, actually maybe thatís unfair, more that the structured pacing of the game is discarded towards the end. Up until then youíve picked up a colour, then done a chunk of levels, before picking up another. It feels like the game should end 1 set of levels after picking up the final colour, but it continues well beyond that.

Not that Hue is a long game, maybe 4 hours or so, plus thereís some hidden items to find if thatís the sort of thing that motivates you. For the most part though I loved Hue, I wish the emotional connection I felt I should be having and the gameís narrative had managed to connect somewhere along the way, but aside from that Hue is a masterfully put together game, a real standout amongst itís indie-puzzle-platformer peers.
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