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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Review: Hue (Sony PlayStation 4)

Hue review

Review by Mikhail M.

Hue by Fiddlesticks surprised me in every way, which is good, because on paper it doesn't sound like too much; it's a puzzle platformer that relies on colours. That simple concept belies one intensely well-crafted game, however, in which everything from the title screen music to the impactful voice acting and the puzzles themselves are near perfection. Hue is a game everyone even remotely interested in memorable experiences needs to play.

The premise in Hue is straightforward. The world is monochrome and resembles Limbo, and you, as Hue, have the task of finding your mother, and this is where the colours come into the picture. Hue’s mother is missing and he needs to slowly uncover more colours as parts of her research to find her. She is a scientist and has left him a ring that lets him switch colours in the world. Just like in Thomas Was Alone, there’s a narrator in prologues to new level areas. Voice by Anna Acton, the creative team have come together to do a fantastic job and I can almost hear her voice whenever I listen to Alkis Livathinos’ memorable piano score.

The right stick serves as a chromatic switcher in a wheel form. This is an important mechanic in Hue. When you move the right stick, time slows down (but does not stop) and you can switch the world to another colour. Each colour uncov-ers new obstacles or shines a new path open for you to progress. Level design is great and things get really tricky later on. Initially puzzles just have blocks that need to be moved, or obstacles disappearing as you switch colours. As you unlock more colours, more obstacles are introduced like moving platforms, lasers, fountains, balloons, and more.

PlayStation 4 indie platformer

A hub world connects every area together. Each area has its own colour for you to unlock for your switching ring. There are also beakers that serve as collectibles in each area. They often require you to go out of your way in a puzzle. The hub world and map may get a bit confusing early on but you get accustomed to it as you play more. Visiting previous areas is possible thanks to the hub world.

As a puzzle game, Hue is outstanding. Each puzzle either teaches you a new mechanic or gets your brain working. Nothing feels unfair and the only frustration you might feel is in the fast paced platforming sections that require mid jump switching colours. This made me want to fling my controller at the screen like it is 2010 and I’m playing Super Meat Boy all over again. Trial and error is fine in puzzles and platforming games but the split second colour switching might annoy some.

When I first watched the announcement trailer for Hue, the art and music sold me on trying the game. The art and watercolour look that is maintained even in monochrome areas is excellent. Switching colours feels great. Adding a new colour to your ring and unlocking an trophy as you see said new colour explode into the background is quite an experience coupled with the music. Even the overall look that has a coloured background with watercolour look but silhouettes of objects in front of it is remarkable. Subtle elements like animating water in the hub world are all icing on the gorgeous visual cake that is Hue.

Hue on PlayStation 4

Hue is a very special experience. Imagine taking some of the best bits of Braid and Thomas Was Alone and intertwining them into an equally amazing package and you get Hue. Hue deserves everyone’s attention and it also deserves a collector’s edition release.

- Mikhail M.

Review: Hue (Sony PlayStation 4)
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