Hue PS4 Review
Publisher: Curve Digital Developer: Fiddlesticks Genre: Puzzle, Adventure Players: 1
Age Rating: 3+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One, PS Vita
A lot of reviews have seen Hue compared to the likes of Limbo, and whilst they are both puzzle-platformers and have the same colour palette of greys and blacks, Hue takes it one step further by incorporating other colours into the gameplay, making for something quite original. I didn’t know what to expect upon starting Hue; all I was told is that you bring colour to the environment, though it wasn’t in the way I expected, thinking that you added colour to certain aspects of the environment in some way in order to progress. But that is not what happens in Hue.
The game overall is very simple and minimalistic; the story follows the titular Hue as he tries to find all the colours to a special ring known as the Annular Spectrum, a ring that allows the perception and alteration of colour. His mother was the one who researched and developed this ring when something went very wrong. That is the gist of the story, one that seems basic but, as the game progresses, one that starts to question reality and existence, so there is some depth to be had story-wise. It is wonderfully narrated, easily pulling you in with the narrators calm and articulate voice as she tells you what exactly happened with this ring.
As you’d expect, the game starts off easily enough, though as Hue finds more colours the levels become increasingly difficult. Upon entering a room, you will be tasked with getting to a door to exit and later you are tasked with finding a key that unlocks the door that you have to exit through. One element that the levels could have done with was having the camera pan the area so that you can see where the exit is and where the key is; in certain levels, I would wander into a puzzle without really knowing where I was heading towards, so having the camera pan the area would have been very useful. Upon entering a room, without having the camera panning the room, you don’t really know what to expect, and whilst this does give you the element of surprise, it does make you hope that you are heading the right way. Some levels do have trial and error-based gameplay whilst others feel rather linear in the way that there is a certain route, solving puzzles as you go to progress.
During a level you’ll be facing many obstacles, such as falling skulls, spikes and electric lasers. A lot of the time will see you moving around boxes in order to reach another platform or working out how to use boxes that are tied to balloons. Later you’ll be pushing levers to turn off the power to traps and to stop moving platforms that will enable you to reach higher ground. You’ll also be using paint to change the colour of boxes, bouncing on box-like trampolines to change their colour and, of course, you’ll be using boxes to push switches that open other doorways. The variation in puzzles is pleasing, though it is when the colour comes into play that really makes these puzzles all the more unique.
The Annular Spectrum ring that Hue has allows him to change the colour of the background and anything in the level that is coloured the same. So if the background is green, anything else coloured green will suddenly disappear. This style of gameplay makes for some very clever puzzles. As Hue finds more colours, the more objects there will be in different colours in the environment and it is up to you to keep switching between the different colours and working out how to manoeuvre objects around in order to progress.
Sometimes a level will have parts in which you need good timing to progress, though this can be rather hit and miss; at times there were sections where I would need to jump and change the colour of the background at the same time – the colour wheel mapped to the right analogue stick. The gameplay does slow down whilst you are choosing a colour, though it can be very finicky and it would lead to frustration as I either accidentally chose a wrong colour and died, or didn’t choose the correct colour in time and died. As an example, sometimes the dangerous skulls that litter a level will come tumbling down on top of you, and sometimes they will be of a certain colour. At one point I needed to position Hue under such a skull, waiting until it came tumbling down before quickly switching to the colour that it is in order to make it disappear before it hit me. Then I needed to jump on top of the skull to reach a higher area and to do this you need to jump, whilst simultaneously changing the colour to another to make the skull reappear. The problem is that if you are touching something that is coloured, you cannot use the colour wheel; so in this case, if Hue jumps, but the timing isn’t right and he is touching the skull, you won’t be able to use the colour wheel, therefore failing in time to jump on top of the skull, which then proceeds to lift back into its previous position. This gameplay style is used quite a bit in later levels and does cause some frustration as you fail constantly to make what appears to be an easy jump.
Another slight issue that I found is that some of the colours on the ring are too similar to each other. The colours have a neon tone to them and the pink and purple in particular are very similar, adding some unwarranted guess work which is irritating when you think you have finally got through an area, only to end up dying because it was actually the other colour that you needed. Some of the colour tones needed to be slightly darker, or a different colour all together. I also found that sometimes if I changed the colour too quickly, it wouldn’t register and this would also lead to certain death at times. Other than these few minor issues – and it really is minor – the gameplay is solid and enjoyable overall, easily immersing you in its gameplay and fun mechanics.
Other than the levels, you’ll also find yourself wandering through long corridors at times as the narrator – or Hue’s mother – reads to you, these serving as the games cutscenes. You’ll also come across other people who inhabit Hue’s world, and even though you can talk to them, they don’t really offer much and are really only there to expand the world. Hue also offers you a colourblind option, adding shapes to the colours to help those who have trouble differentiating colour.
After completing the game, you can also go back and play through previous levels and even though there is a fast travel you can use to get to different areas, you still find that you have to traverse through the long corridors to get to a level. You can replay levels in order to find the many beakers that are hidden about; finding them all will unlock the Cyantific Apparatus PS4 Trophy, though this is really for the completionists as finding all the beakers doesn’t unlock anything else, so casual players probably won’t be bothered with finding them all.
Some other little touches the game offers is that Hue can knock over smaller items in the environment that are there for decorative purposes only, and he can knock hanging skeletons that will then spout puns at you; the game could have done with more moments like this to make some of the areas feel a little less barren. Hue is also a 3+ rated game and is, for the most part, child-friendly, though when Hue dies, he does tend to go limp, his body contorting with a cracking sound as his bones break upon impact. The music in Hue is also minimal, a gentle piano medley playing as you go, adding a sense of mystic awe to the tone of the game.
Overall, despite some of the issues, I found Hue to be an enjoyable game, one that continued to garner my interest and kept me coming back for more with it’s intriguing concept and minimalistic, charming style. It offered a lot of challenge but it never got so frustrating that it made me give up altogether, the game easing you in with the first few puzzles being simple, allowing you time to adjust to the controls. With eight colours to find, the game has a pleasing array of puzzles and it never outstays its welcome, feeling very satisfying upon completion. For those who enjoy puzzle games, this is definitely recommended.