By Sandy Wilson 29.08.2016
Curve Digital, a company with a wide and varied portfolio from the likes of Action Henk to Dear Esther, presents Hue (also available on PC and PlayStation 4), an action platformer built on a simple yet unique premise, created by Mush developer, Fiddlesticks. Releasing on multiple platforms including PC, PS4, Xbox One and PS Vita, it is set to bring colour to the gaming libraries of as many people as it can. How does it hold up?
This game is no stranger to atmosphere. Everything contributes to its unique and magical, yet slightly depressing, feeling and makes the story that bit more intriguing and mysterious. The main character, Hue, wakes up to find a letter, which is read by a disembodied voice of the woman who wrote it, telling him to stop a Dr. Grey, who rendered her invisible by destroying her experiment, by finding fragments of a colour ring that has a magical and powerful power.
Hue, aside from being a hilarious and witty pun, has an amazing art style. It uses a striking silhouetted look with the foreground and characters in a lightly, almost chalkboard, textured black and the background in a different colour. The world starts off monochrome with a grey background but as the game progresses the background is manipulated by the player to solve puzzles. The animations are smooth and there are little flourishes everywhere; from the clouds in the town to the physical interactive chains hanging from the ceilings. The visuals are very important to the gameplay with the main mechanics being based on colour.
The puzzles are the focus of Hue. These rely on the colour switching mechanic. Each room has a goal to achieve and to reach the goal there are many coloured obstacles. It's here that the game shines, by switching the background hue to match an object's colour that object will disappear from the physical and visible spectrum allowing the player to move 'Hue' and objects through that space. An early on puzzle drills this in making sure that this feature is well known by making Hue make stairs to one side of the room, and then to the other by colour shifting multiple times to rearrange the object entirely. It's extremely satisfying to solve these logic puzzles and the game makes each of them feel important. As it goes on, Hue discovers more uses for the power.
The sound design is good with some realistic and some not so realistic sound effects accentuating every action, but where it excels in the sound is the music. The soundtrack is a haunting medley of instruments used to build tension, enforce sadness and reinforce the sense of adventure. The voice acting for the letters that are found scattered around is nice, Hue's friend has plenty of emotion, as well as providing the main insights for the story, filling in the character backgrounds of herself, Hue, and Dr. Grey.
The difficulty is really well judged. At the beginning, the challenges are small and simple but when the game progresses it adds new bits and pieces to the puzzles, creating a smooth difficulty that doesn't seem to spike. If each puzzle had had a time limit, things might have been different but the lack of one is a welcome omission for those who enjoy taking their time. The only real criticism from playing for review was that the colour changing can be quite fiddly while working with limited time for movements, but as time went on this problem alleviated itself - a real case of giving yourself time to adjust to the control method.
Hue is a charming indie puzzle platformer that presents a very unique mechanic and makes it central to the game's progression. Its fantastic visuals, refined gameplay mechanics and intriguing story are truly a delight to experience. This should be more than pleasing to those who enjoy the genre or are just looking for a new gaming experience with a good story.