Hue for Xbox One review: Color in the world

How can people say video games cause violence when games like Hue exist?

Hue is a puzzle platformer developed by Fiddlesticks and published by ID@Xbox. It's colorful, yet sorrowful, and so sweet it'll leave you with a content glow for a week.

You control the character Hue, who lives in a greyscale world. His life is changed by the discovery of color. His mother was a researcher who developed a ring to help her see colors too, but she was betrayed by her assistant. Now she is just a formless shade, unable to interact with the world. Hue's mission is to find her.

Hue can use his powers of color-changing to interact with the world and solve puzzles by manipulating colors. The beautiful hand-drawn line art is still striking even without color or shade and serves delicious detail to each level.

From the get-go, even with one color to use, you can see obstacles of other colors you don't have yet. You may be back-tracking to and fro to open and unlock new areas as you discover new ones, but there is a level select option to take you to the closest level start point. Some of the paths end up looping back on themselves anyway, but the level select menu also shows you how many mysterious beakers there are to collect on those levels.

Sometimes you'll come across a room that is nothing but a winding path or ladders, but during these moments, your mother will talk to you through letters you find. This helps develop the back-story, and these moments are tender and sweet enough to pop a small ember of light into the darkest of hearts.

On the surface, Hue is innocent and has a simple premise. In execution, it's brutal. Some of the puzzles are so difficult, I've had to go to bed and return the next day to try again. I sat there for the longest times at points, thinking to myself, "Why is this so difficult? It's only colors!" Not one to let a game best me, on one occasion I sat for seven hours solid and some of the levels were taking me at least an hour to work out and complete. I just didn't feel like stopping.

It's a process of trial and error. The game takes it's time easing you in until you understand the mechanics of making objects disappear by matching them with the background, but also traversing the level to make progress towards finding Hue's mother.

The levels start off being reasonably simple, making obstacles in your path vanish with the flick of a thumb. As you make your way through the game, you discover more colors. When you do figure a puzzle out and make progress and find a new color you feel like you've genuinely worked something out. It's not easy but it is so addictive!

If a yellow obstacle is in your way, you can make the background yellow, and the obstacle will disappear. It gets more challenging and exciting in later levels where there may be a variation of colors and platforms that will disappear and appear as you have to change the background to progress.

Selecting a color is done by using the right stick. Pushing it in any direction will bring up the color wheel to make your choice from. Some platforming elements require you to switch colors on the fly, in mid-air. This isn't possible while you're standing close to an obstacle, so even though it may only be a few jumping segments at a time, they're quite stressful as Hue is pretty delicate.

Hue boasts a color-blind mode, which when selected in the menu will apply an extra icon to each color so you can differentiate between shades. With green/blues and red/pinks, the color-blind mode means you don't to have miss out just because you're a few steps off from having dog-vision.

Hue is deceptively long and throws surprise after surprise at you. When you think you've got the hang of things, it gets changed up. At first, I could deal with rolling skulls that I had to change the color of so they'd roll harmlessly by, I coped with the moving platforms with colored lazers shooting out of them. By the time I got to squirty goo that changes the color of things that pass through it and bouncing blocks that change when you jump on them, as well as lazers and falling skulls -- I was stressed, to say the least. Admittedly, by the time I got to the point in the image below, I was very tired and had been playing consistently for a long time. That one level took me at least an hour to work out how to get the key at the bottom. While I almost wept with relief that I wasn't beaten by a game about colors, I could have cried when there were still more and more levels to go through. Every time I felt like I barely made it through with my sanity, only to be met with more.

Even though Hue is incredibly trying on your patience, I was surprised at how invested in the game I became. The voice acting was so expressive and tender, I felt like I was being narrated to by my own mother. There was a sentiment in her words that I think all people could relate to.

Summary

A game that will leave you feeling furiously stupid and a genius of brobdingagian proportions simultaneously. Hue very much reminds me of Limbo, only far less sinister and almost no spider leg removal at all. Hue is a heart-warming and an enjoyable experience.

Pros:

  • Beautiful simplistic art style
  • Gentle music to help your brain
  • Color-blind mode
  • You feel like Einstein when you make progress

Cons:

  • Takes considerable thinking outside the box
  • Later levels are incredibly difficult

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This review was conducted on an Xbox One using a code provided by the developer.

Lauren Relph

Lauren Relph is a games writer, focusing on Xbox. She doesn't like piña coladas but loves getting caught in the rain. Follow her on Twitter!

8 Comments
  • How are the cons cons? These reasons are exactly why one would play this.
  • Not really cons as such but its just a way of showing the things people may have issues with. If you're not a lateral thinker or don't have the patience for working levels out for over an hour, wouldn't you want to know ahead of time in a more concise manner than reading the entire post?
  • Awesome review Lauren.   Any take on the Achivements? Are they a lot of grind?
  • They pop when you get a new color. There is only one you may have to grind for, worth the most of course, but if anyone gets it on their first crack, I'd be surprised.
  • Enjoy your reviews. Is this not getting a UK release or price? Not in the store yet. This game worries me as it looks like one I want, but it will monopolise my time. Do I get this or Inside? This seems like excellent value due to the amount of play time.
  • The official release date is tomorrow, Peachy :) Check again in the morning! :)
  • That review was atrocious. Most pretentious and unecessary use of "brobdingagian" and it's apparent that the reviewer considers difficulty a negative attribute. 
  • Are you annoyed because you had to look up the meaning?