Sean takes a look at the long awaited colour puzzle platformer Hue, from Fiddlesticks and Curve Digital.
It’s been a strong year for puzzle games that make you think a little outside of the box. The Witness uses its environment and symmetry to elevate its gird pattern solutions, even No Man’s Sky had some interesting maths puzzles to solve at points. HUE is a new puzzle game from Fiddlesticks and Curve Digital that uses colour to create engaging and at times tricky puzzles.
You play as Hue, a young man living in a monochrome world whose mother has disappeared after researching colour. You find out the backstory as you progress thought the levels thanks to little notes, left by your mother, around the world.
The premise is simple, you use the right stick to select different colours that can clear a way or make a box/laser or block disappear so you can move through it. The puzzles start simple as you slowly find more colours and then get more and more complex as you progress. Sometimes big coloums are needed to climb high places, sometimes you need them to cover a gap. It’s all very clever and needs you to use your thought a little bit more than you expect.
I’m not going to spoil too much here but there are positives and negatives to this kind of puzzle. The main negative is that the game at times is aware it can overcomplicate itself and at times feels like it holds back from really making a bastard of a level or is missing another dynamic that would just make it a bit more challenging. At present it’s challenging enough to complete but you don’t get the sense of elation of really beating a complex puzzle. But the game does give you elation in other ways.
There are several levels that run like Indiana Jones style avoidance of a rock related death. These levels, which use the colours as blocks to be removed, are great because you build up speed, some rhythm and occasionally get something that catches you out. This is one of the things that Hue does really well in that it can switch up its styles of puzzles with relative ease and not have them feel out of place or arbitrary.
The game’s art style is perfect for this. The colour background that makes the puzzles possible is nice and goes really well with the black minimal, almost stencilled design of the surrounding walls and your character, Hue. The story has a nice evocative tone to it, which is ably narrated by actress Anna Acton in an epistolary form. The background music is a calming and sombre collection of piano motifs that balance nicely with the story the on screen action. There’s even great accessibility with a colourblind mode, which adds symbol patters to the colours on the selection wheel and on screen.
Hue’s not a very long game, which I think is right for a puzzle game like this. You don’t want it to drag out. There are moments where you get the hang of it and wonder if it is too simple but for those hardcore puzzle people, you can collect the research vials dotted around the games levels. For me it could have done with one more difficulty spike but I’m more than happy with the faster more platform based levels that add some more colour to the visible spectrum of Hue.
Hue is available on PS4, PC and Xbox One. The review is based on the Xbox One version of the game.