Somewhere over the rainbow

Platform: PlayStation 4

Available on: Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One

Genre: Puzzle platformer

Developer: Fiddlesticks

Publisher: Curve Digital

Released: August 30, 2016

What a pleasant surprise this game turned out to be. I recently played through some longer titles and looking for a change of pace, I went to look at the old faithful PlayStation plus collection, and Hue caught my eye. After some short googling I was bought in. A 2D platformer, whose main mechanics involve manipulating colour to get through obstacles. Being a gamer for so long now as well told me that this wouldn’t be overly long, the perfect remedy to the epic length games I’ve been playing the past few months.

So what’s it all about then?

50 shades of psychedelia

The world which you inhabit is one of black, white and shades of grey and colours are your tools for progressing through the world. So let’s say for example there is a red block preventing you from getting to the door to complete the level and pass on to the next, simply what you must do is select the red colour from the wheel and the aforementioned barrier will disappear. To put it even more simply - If you pick a colour, all items on the screen matching it will disappear. Seems straightforward enough, right?

As you delve further into the game, you acquire more colours, eight different ones in total. The acquisition of them denotes the end of a chapter of the game. The more you get a hold of, the more complex the level structures become. Starting with the aqua, the puzzles (in hindsight) are very simple - Use the appropriate one to remove matching objects, jump across platforms, etc. Then the pace starts picking up a little, where you’re required to start making these switches in mid-air, where you’re in the middle of a jump and you need a platform to appear. The complexity only multiples as more colours are introduced to your palette.

Different types of roadblocks are put in front of you the more you progress, such as liquid that changes the colour of movable boxes, lasers and large skulls that drop to the ground a moment after you pass under them. I really enjoyed the challenge presented with Hue, there are some notable difficulty spikes but nothing you can’t master after a few tries to understand newly introduced mechanics. A few times throughout the adventure there are some quick moving and reaction-based hurdles to get through, which to me were without a doubt some of the more difficult parts. These sections require you to keep up the pace while running through traps, and sometimes while also avoiding incoming dangers which change colour. You in turn need to quickly change to something else in your palette to avoid dying. It’s fast-paced and can be a breath of fresh air after a few slower puzzles.

Manipulate the rainbow

I haven’t explicitly said it yet, but visually speaking this was a pleasure to watch as much as it was to play. The sometimes haphazard use of different and opposing colours helps to create a strong visual identity and I loved the way they accented the mostly black edges and borders of the levels. If you change from let’s say, orange to purple, the whole background changes to the new selection as well. This helps give levels different feels as well as acting as a very strong visual reminder of your current selection - It can be oddly easy to forget what you currently have set and thus can lead to dying.

Side note, the sound made when your protagonist Hue is crushed by something is vicious, fair play to whomever worked on the sound effects!

Anyway, it looks great as expected for a game using themes like this and fortunately never uninteresting to look at.

Hue and his amazing technicolour… eyes?

There is a reasonably simple story present here, though admittedly it’s not something I have cared to pay too much attention to nor have I needed it to motivate myself to play. Hue wakes up to find that his mother has gone missing, and as you get through the game you will discover she was working on some research that would benefit the land of black and grey you live in. I won’t get into spoiler territory, but it’s a pretty simple story that reeks of sadness at times.

The soundtrack does more to service the story than it does to complement the visuals, for the most part. The main theme is a very melancholic piano-led piece. This in a way betrays the gameplay you’re experiencing - it’s so vibrant and alive but the piano piece that is playing throughout most of your time is quite dour. This isn’t to say it’s a bad piece, it’s a great composition, it can just be a bit jarring. There are moments when the soundtrack evolves into something that is that bit more upbeat, but these moments are more fleeting than I would have liked myself personally.

Black and red, in my head

There isn’t honestly a lot to say about Hue, and that is a good thing and does not speak of its quality. It’s a technically sound, hidden treasure of an indie platformer, that I have thoroughly enjoyed playing. It has a perfectly reasonable difficulty curve and some collectibles there encouraging some exploration. I haven’t found a lot of these myself, despite actually trying to, so there is some level of replay-ability there to be found. If you’re looking to kill a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, there are much worse ways to spend your time, with this game clocking in around 5 hours. Take a chance on this little platformer that could, and you might find yourself having a really pleasant and rewarding time.

Pro tip: Turn off the game music and listen to Dark Side of the Moon while playing.

So eh… What's your favourite colour?

Play this game if…

  • You like indie platformers

  • You’re looking for a shorter game to play

  • You enjoy a wide colour palette in game visuals

  • You want the pants charmed off you

All images taken from the Hue press kit here

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