Vision can be a deceiving thing. Though it provides us with crucial information over our surroundings, it does not show a full picture of reality. It can even trick our minds into seeing things that aren’t really there. Hue, a new puzzle-platformer from developer Fiddlesticks, brings us into a world where vision and color are at the forefront of the experience, and asks its audience to ponder the role these visual elements play in our lives and in our relationships. Hue is full of colorful creativity, a mostly touching story and a unique take on the puzzle genre, but at the same time, each of its elements don’t feel fully utilized, resulting in an experience that falls just short of being great.
Hue puts you in the shoes of the protagonist of the same name, a young boy who wakes up in a small town and finds himself all alone. We soon discover that Hue’s mother invented a ring that allows its user to perceive and alter color in an otherwise monochromatic world and inadvertently turn herself invisible. The story is told through letters written by Hue’s mother, left for him to find along his journey. She is essentially the only voice you will hear throughout the game, and thankfully, both the writing and voice acting for these segments are excellent. In these letters, we learn about
Hue’s mother’s complex relationship with the mysterious Dr. Grey, as well as their experiments together to create the color ring. Hearing their story bit by bit was one of my favorite parts in the game, as each letter was intriguing and had something interesting to say. My main problem with them is simply how few and far between they were. The letters were generally only found at the beginning or end of each section of the game, and the wait in between was difficult. I couldn’t help but feel as though the narrative as a whole would have been far more engaging if the letters were more frequent and contained more content.
One of Hue’s major draws is its alluring visual style. The characters and environment are drawn in a simplistic manner, but the various colors make each level pop with vibrancy. Speaking of colors, they aren’t merely a passive element in Hue, but rather the basis on which the gameplay is designed. As Hue, your main objective is to find the pieces of the color ring that have been broken up and hidden in the world. Each time you find a new color, you are able to change your surroundings to cause physical objects of that same color to disappear. This tool is the foundation for solving nearly all the puzzles in the game. And though there are elements of platforming in Hue, it is a puzzle game first and foremost.
Hue is divided into various sections, each with their own unique theme. Some of the different areas you will encounter include a waterfall area, a power plant and an Egyptian-like tomb. In addition to the slight visual differences, each area introduces a new set of obstacles that are related to the theme itself. For instance, in the power plant section, colored lasers and moving platforms play a significant role int the construction of the puzzles. Each level typically follows one of two different approaches. There are the platformer-heavy levels that have you using your color-changing ability to avoid dangerous objects as you move from point A to point B, and there are the puzzle levels that involve shifting through colors to manipulate blocks and other objects to acquire otherwise unreachable keys to unlock the door to the next stage. This formula started to feel tedious about halfway through the game, but thankfully, the addition of new elements and obstacles kept things feeling mostly fresh.
One of the main problems I encountered was the inconsistency in difficulty. The game got progressively more challenging as whole, but I found the difficulty between any two given levels would vary greatly. Some levels I could complete in one try without much effort, and the following stage would be so difficult it would take a numerous attempts to complete. On top of that, each time you fail a level you must start from the beginning. This was often frustrating as I felt forced to do the same thing over and over again until I finally got it right.
Hue presents a different interpretation on the puzzle-platformer genre with its color-shifting concept and non-traditional storytelling approach; but even with all its inventive ideas, it suffers from a lack of development for each one. The story unfolds in small bursts that are too spread out to feel fully immersive, and the primary gameplay mechanic doesn’t evolve enough by the end to justify its initial creativity. For a game about sight and perception, it’s unfortunate that Hue is unable to see past its modest scope.
I am a writer and journalist based in San Francisco. When I'm not getting lost in expansive open-world RPGs, immersive first-person shooters or any other type of game that grabs my interest, I usually spend my time taking photos and playing music. Two of my all-time favorite games are Persona 4 Golden and Metal Gear Solid 3.