Hello Dazzle! Thanks for coming and hanging out with me today, I’m glad that you are here. Today I am reviewing the game Hue. This is a game that I played on my Twitch stream and I really enjoyed the experience. Here’s the spoiler warning: I do talk about the plot and story of this game which will reveal things. This being an older game I feel like these reveals are pretty fair game. However, if you do want to play the game without knowing how the story unfolds then you should probably save this review for later.
This game is visually unique and interesting. The dramatic vibrant colors in high contrast against the black that generates the majority of the shapes in the world had a stunning and immediate impact. It was the artistic approach of the game that first appealed to me and was the reason that I decided to play it. I wanted to see more of it. The colors were bright, vivid and bold. Yet, their being separated out from each other also made it monochromatic.
Music and Sound Effects
The music and sound effects in this game are rather unremarkable. They neither offend nor appeal to me. They are simply there in the background doing their job without notice. Playing this game with the sound muted doesn’t in any way dampen the playing experience which reveals how little the sound added to the game.
The story is simple and rather predictable. It is directly connected with the artistic style of the game which only adds to the overall appeal of the visual style. The story offers some interesting philosophical questions, but doesn’t make any effort to explore them in any depth. I admit that I am one that prefers a deeper dive, so this was a miss for me.
As you move through the world, you are presented with the information that the majority of the people in this world can only see black and white, but that there is a small group who can now see color because of the Annular Spectrum. This suggests that all the people are biologically capable of seeing color and that color is present, but that something has happened to hide color from view. The story makes no effort to explain this strange relationship with color. But it does make a point to mention that there are those who cannot feel pain, suggesting that having variations to perception might be a normal state of being.
The plot revolves around the protagonist, Hue, searching for his mother who turned an “impossible color” due to the fracturing of the Annular Spectrum, a ring that she developed to allow the perception and alteration of color. During this journey, the player searches through a mostly black world, collecting shards of the Annular Spectrum, which will allow the player to make obstacles disappear by switching to the corresponding color on the color wheel. Thus, as the player progresses through the game they gain more colors that they are able to perceive and interact with.
There are some things in this story that didn’t make sense to me. Somehow, Hue’s mother is able to leave him letters which he can read despite her supposedly being unable to interact with the world anymore. It isn’t made clear who Hue’s father is, but it is strongly suggested that it is the professor that Hue’s mother was working with who also turns out to be the robed figure that has been giving the Annular Spectrum fragments to Hue. If this is Hue’s father, why doesn’t he just communicate with Hue directly? If he knows where the fragments are, why doesn’t he collect them to rescue Hue’s mother since he supposedly loves her? When you collect the colors you can now see different colors but you can never see them at the same time. Why not? Lastly, why does collecting the fragments of the Annular Spectrum allow you to save Hue’s mother? Since it required to manipulate color wouldn’t she need to be given the Annular Spectrum to return to her original color state? And why did it’s fragmentation change her color state to begin with since it only changes your ability to perceive the colors?
Overall, I felt like the story had potential, but was largely lacking. I honestly would rather there be no story then for there to be one that is this superficial and poorly fleshed out. I don’t think that the game really needed to have any kind of story at all for it to have been fun to play. The addition of the story felt like it was more a justification for the choice in art style then it was an actual effort to tell a meaningful story or to explore a theme. I was left disappointed.
World or Setting
The world is a 2 dimensional platform game which at first glance seems pretty mundane. But they introduce the additional element of needing to change through the color wheel in order to modify what is revealed or hidden within the frame. This adds an additional difficulty to the mechanics of the classic platform game as well as making for some seriously challenging puzzles. This was a great way to connect the action of the game to the artistic vision giving the game a beautiful cohesiveness.
There are places in this game that are just not needed. Levels or rooms that you move through just for the sake of moving through them. There is no puzzle, jump challenge or maze to these spaces. They are literally just taking up space as a transition between areas. They are completely unnecessary, slow down the action and are boring to move through.
Hue, the character you are playing, is flat and undeveloped. There is no character customization so there isn’t anything to compel me to project myself onto the character that I am playing as a means to fill that void. Hue’s age is never stated, but it is strongly implied that he is a child. He is smaller then the adult characters within the game and he is frequently referenced as being a kid. Yet there is no concern for him to being trudging off and about by himself either.
I never learned why Hue decided to go on a quest for his mother or how he felt about her. It wasn’t even clear how long his mother was missing for. The villagers that Hue interacts with did not seem alarmed or concerned that his mother was missing which suggests that his mother had been missing for an extended period of time. But that makes me wonder why now? Why does Hue embark on this quest now? If it was intended that she had just vanished then the lack of concern for her in the village is strange especially in context of the ending when they seem happy that she returns to the village.
Hue’s mother gets to reveal herself through the letters that are written to Hue. They are read out loud to you in her voice and they express both her thoughts and her emotions. In this way, I felt that I got a glimpse of who Hue’s mother was as a person. I felt that I came to know Hue’s mother better then either Hue or the professor (likely Hue’s father).
Level of Challenge
This game was ridiculously hard. Working through a room meant that you had to intellectually solve the puzzle with the minimal clues being offered then you had to manually solve the puzzle by being able to perform the jumps and timed color changes properly. Failing meant starting the room over at the beginning which could be very frustrating for the larger and more complex rooms. It would have been nice if there had been save points half way through the room in these more complex rooms.
The user interface was good. The controls were easy to use and could be changed to suit your personal preferences. Additionally, they had made the considerate additional interface option to turn on a color blind mode. I felt this was a great addition since the game would become unplayable to those who were color blind without this mode being available to them.
Novelty or Unique Qualities
The use of color for artistic effect and as an element within the puzzle dynamic was the thing that stands out, making this game unique within a long list of puzzle platform games.
While playing this game, I found myself swinging between frustration and elation frequently. Every time I killed Hue by missing a jump or timing the color change incorrectly, I felt that surge of frustration. However, because the game was so hard, conquering each room came with an enormous sense of accomplishment that became its own reward for working through the game. When I talk about a game being frustrating, people usually assume that means that I didn’t enjoy playing it. But that’s not true. I liked that I had to work for the win. I really enjoyed that every room was a challenge that forced me to think hard. It had the same feeling that the old Atari and Nitendo games had. The kind of difficulty that felt really good to conquer.
I personally don’t feel there is much replay value in this game. There is an achievement to find and collect 25 hidden beakers through out the world. I myself don’t feel drawn to replay through the game solely to get the reward of this achievement. If you are one for completing a game 100% and getting all the achievements then this would be a reason to play through another time. Beyond that? I don’t see the appeal. The story is lacking the ability to pull back. Working through the puzzles was what pushed me forward the first time, but now I know that I can do it so there isn’t that same pleasure I got with the first victory.
Do I Recommend It?
If you are looking for a challenge, this is a good pick. It offers great puzzles and difficult platform maneuvering. Just don’t expect there to be realistically fleshed out characters or a developed story, because they just aren’t there.
Well, that’s about it for my rambling today. Thanks for coming and spending some time with me. If you like what you read, click on that like button. It really does help! Until we talk again, you take care of yourselves!