Imagine a world without colour. Allow your mind to wander to a dimension that only consists of dull greys and depressing blacks. There are no rainbows, no bright orange sunsets and no blue sky. Have you pictured it? Great, now you’re ready to dive into the colourful world of Hue, a game that shows the world exactly as you’ve just imagined – black, grey and depressing.
You read that right, I did get you to imagine a colourless world, while also describing Hue as colourful. Hue imagines a world in which colours are actually different layers of reality. The world’s inhabitants exist on the ‘Grey plain’ only perceiving grey and its associated shades. But, through the miracle of science, there exists an artefact that allows the wearer to perceive and interact with multiple layers of reality (colours) and once. And armed with that knowledge, you’re setting off on your quest. Like Marvel’s Thanos, you roam the world searching for coloured mcguffins – except, you’re not trying to wipe out half of all life, you’re there for the experience.
I truly love a good puzzle-platformer and it’s no exaggeration to say that Hue is unlike any I’ve played before. It’s a game that feels like they thought out and refined the core mechanics, before jumping into level design, and this definitely shows.
In the beginning, you use your available colours to access and explore other areas of the world. You can move blocks, jump over obstacles and collect keys which is standard when it comes to puzzle platformers. What makes Hue unique is that each colour allows you to interact with different aspects of the world. Change your colour to purple and all purple platforms and obstacles disappear – change back to aqua and suddenly all the aqua platforms have disappeared. To start with, this is simple to grasp, but later in the game Hue throws more and more at you. Soon you’ll be dodging multicoloured lasers while hovering on a multicoloured platform and it soon becomes a stressful race to choose the correct colour before you hinder yourself. It’s stressful but in an incredibly good way.
I was also quite surprised by how interesting and engaging Hue’s story is. You’re not shown much of the world outside of the brightly coloured platforming sections – but every now and then you find a diary (of sorts) which belongs to the woman who has invented the artefact that allows your colour swapping ability. She explains how she came across the discovery of colour, her revelations along the way and trials she had to overcome along the way – I won’t go into specifics, but the voice actress manages to create a huge feeling of empathy for the character and truly makes the story feel alive.
Another surprise I had when playing Hue was with its accessibility options. For a game whose entire core mechanic was based around colour switching, I was concerned that there wouldn’t be any room for those with colour-blindness – but the talented team at Fiddlesticks were one step ahead of me and included a ‘colour blind’ mode, which switches colours for symbols. I tried this colour blind mode (as someone without colour-blindness), just to see if the puzzles hold up, and happily, they do! There’s little difference between using the colours and the symbols to solve the puzzles and play the game as intended – outside of the vibrant colours used throughout.
The last indie puzzle-platformer I truly got hooked to was Teslagrad – in a similar way to Hue, they focused on their core mechanic and built the game around this. Happily, with its unique gameplay and vibrant world, I can see Hue being a solid competitor for my favourite puzzle-platformer. I’m incredibly eager to delve back into the colour filled world of Hue to uncover its many secrets (I just know I’ve missed a lot).
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*