Developed by newcomer Fiddlesticks and published by Curve Digital, Hue is a puzzler with some light platforming elements interwoven. While the concept of altering perception to change reality isn’t wholly unique, the implementation of color as the core mechanic gives the game some appeal, both visually and in how the puzzle elements are utilized.
You play as a young boy named Hue (not to be confused with Hugh), and you are searching for someone that has left behind a series of letters to guide you. It should be pretty easy to figure out who that is fairly early on, but we’ll leave it for you to discover nonetheless. The story, such as it is, works fine and is well narrated by a comforting female voice.
Presentation in general can be counted as a strong point. No, there’s nothing particularly modern about any of it, but the characters and world have an interesting style and the way things are instantly bathed in swaths of color as you swing between your palette looks pretty cool. A soft, almost somber piano will accompany you for most of your journey. It’s quite peaceful.
As you begin you find yourself in a world of black and white before quickly locating a blue block of color, which is added to your available palette. This serves as the introduction to the game’s hook where you’re able to change the overall color of the world around it. And the catch is that anything already existing in the world of that color then disappears.
For example, let’s say there’s a pile of blue rocks blocking access to a ladder. If you select “blue” from your palette (mapped entirely to the right analog stick) the world will immediately become blue and those rocks will vanish from existence. They’re still there if you were to switch to another color, but by making the world a complementary color they cease to be an obstacle.
When there’s only one color there isn’t a lot for the game to work with, so Hue quickly throws more and more colors your way: purple, orange, violet and so on. Each time you get a new color the complexity of the puzzles increases. There are eight in total, and by the time you’ve obtained them all the game will have trotted out a number of new mechanics to keep things from growing stale.
It creates something quite fun, although there’s a pair of shortcomings worth mentioning. First, and probably most annoying since it was easily avoidable, is how much fuchsia and violet look alike in the world — typically that just leads to hiccups, but there are times where the game will ask you to flip colors mid-jump or under duress, and in those instances it can legitimately frustrate.
Secondly, while the challenge level increases, Hue really isn’t very tough. It leans much more toward thinking ahead than reacting quickly, and I don’t recall being stuck for more than a few minutes on any of the game’s puzzles. Some will obviously find it tougher, but I don’t consider myself an expert in the genre and was only forced to really reassess puzzles on a couple of occasions.
Minus those real brain teasers, Hue turns out to be quite short, checking in around three hours with no incentive to revisit. The game does scatter some beakers around to collect, but many of them require you to return to previous areas in what’s sort of a poor man’s Metroidvania where you’ll encounter a green blockade at a time where you haven’t added green to your palette. It’s not a compelling reason to back track.
While I would’ve enjoyed a stiffer challenge, that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Hue utilizes a fairly straightforward hook very well and steers clear of the kind of difficulty spikes that derail lesser games — each puzzle feels like it was built on the last and moved incrementally forward rather that massive leaps. It’ll stimulate your brain; it’s just unlikely to push it.
I was pleasantly surprised by Hue and found myself plowing through it, anxious to see the next challenge it had in store for me. And while it ultimately came up a little short in the difficulty department it’d still be a nice pick up for anyone looking for an enjoyable puzzler.