Hue – the attribute of a colour by virtue of which it is discernible – is our protagonist in this simple yet mind-bending puzzle platformer from established independent publisher Curve Digital and developer Fiddlesticks. Hue – appropriately enough – is bringing colour back into a world of black and grey.
Little Hue must explore this strange, monochromatic landscape, using his special relationship with colour to progress through each level and unlock the world’s secrets. Hue’s world might be shades of grey, but as he explores he unlocks the ability to perceive colour – and each new colour is added to his palette. By switching colours in this palette, Hue can make objects within the world appear out of the background, or disappear into them. In doing so, Hue can move through objects, shift platforms, access levers, and reach areas of the world otherwise inaccessible.
If Hue finds his path blocked by a large, green box, for example, shifting the palette to green will cause the box to disappear into the background. Change the colour again and the green box reappears. Add to the mix Hue’s ability to run and jump, and push and pull, and Hue has a full set of platforming skills.
These colour and object based puzzles are generally excellent, asking you to figure out what item needs to go where, what colour sequence you need, and sometimes what order you need to do things in. On occasion there’s a bit of trial and error, moving objects back and forth until you have that “Ah-ha!” moment and everything clicks. Switching colours doesn’t pause the game, but does slow time, making quick palette changes possible mid-jump. There’s plenty of opportunity to miss-time a leap or a palette change, though, causing our protagonist to fall to his death, be crushed by falling rocks, or meet an equally unfortunate end.
When that happens, it’s a bit of a wrench as Hue’s an endearing little chap – all the more so thanks to an interesting backstory that unfolds throughout his adventure; Hue uncovers details of his mother’s disappearance by reading letters he finds in the world. The quest to learn the full story drives you on as much as the intriguing puzzling, and the slightly sinister figure that keeps appearing only makes you want to keep going to find out just what is going on. As the game progresses, puzzles get more challenging and devious – offering a real sense of accomplishment upon completion.
Artistically, the game uses colour brilliantly, as you would expect, but the monochrome world and its inhabitants, including Hue himself, are beautifully detailed and full of character. Sound design also suits the tone of the game, with some beautiful tracks amongst the thirty or so pieces of original music in the score. Voice acting, too, is polished, helping create a bond between player and story.
During its development, as it was paraded around the convention circuit in 2015, Hue won the hearts of the community – and a whole host of awards. We can see why; it’s an utterly charming game that challenges without ever feeling unfairly cruel. Although we’ve seen the “hidden platform” mechanic before, most recently in Kinect title Fru, it’s rarely felt so fresh. It’s also great to see that, with puzzles based entirely on colour, Hue includes full colour-blind support. rather than shifting the brightness and saturation levels, Hue employs a simpler approach, using unique symbols fpr each colour in the palette. It’s a system that works well.
Hue blends a simple yet striking art style with unique level design and a touching, compelling narrative to create a fresh take on a popular genre.
A compelling narrative and a visual art style complement this clever and intriguing platform puzzler.
A complex puzzle platformer with an endearing story, Hue will have you scratching your head more than once. Visually pleasing and long enough to keep you interested, Hue is most certainly a game you should have in your collection.