Breaking My Backlog #2 – Hue

by Christopher David Lawton

Breaking My Backlog is a semi-regular features on in which I attempt to complete my entire backlog before buying any new games. You can read more about the quest and see my backlog here.

Spoiler Warning: The following post contains some minor spoilers for Hue. I can’t be held responsible if I open your eyes to a whole new world of color before you’re ready.

I love platformers. I have since I was five years old and I first played Super Mario Bros.. Even over 30 years later, I still hungrily consume any platformers I can get my hands on, especially if they try something new to change the game a bit, so to speak. This brings us to Hue, a game that asks its players to view and interact with the world in a new way. 

Hue is a game about color. Specifically, it’s about bringing color to a world that is mostly gray. With its simplistic graphics, it evokes immediate imagery of puzzle platformers like LIMBO and Inside, and the comparisons are apt. Hue starts out in a similar way with a young boy embarking on a quest for unknown reasons. He can jump from platform to platform, he can push boxes, and he can activate switches and collect keys. Where the game starts to deviate, though, is in the use of color. When Hue reaches a set of mines outside of town, where most of the game takes place, he encounters a pile of light blue rocks blocking his path.

Finding only one path further into the mine, he continues from room to room until he finds the first of 12 colors, which he will use to interact with the world. See, when the player selects a color, it changes the background color of the room to whatever color is selected, and any items within the room that are the same color fade into the background and disappear. This allows Hue to pass by the aforementioned light blue rocks, as well as other obstacles in the game that bar progress. It also allows him to complete puzzles within each room, by doing things like pushing blocks through colored barriers and or making platforms disappear or appear to reach previously inaccessible sections and items. It’s the equivalent of the weaponry in Metroid or the items in a Zelda game, really, but where it sets itself apart is some of the harder puzzles requiring Hue to change background colors in an instant. Perhaps, he needs to jump from a purple platform onto another platform that is blocked by a purple barrier. The only way to achieve this is to change the background color midjump, which is easy enough thanks to a highly intuitive control system that only requires a flick of the right analog stick to pull up a color wheel and switch colors. When you’re doing this from jump to jump to jump, though, and you’re being chased by falling rocks, it can get hectic.

As a fan of platformers, I loved every minute of it. The best platformers require a certain amount of franticness on the part of the player. This sense of urgency, to me, is part of the fun.

Where Hue really sets itself apart, though, is in its fantastic story. As the boy, Hue, moves through the game, he finds letters addressed to him, which tell the story of the color wheel that fuels the game’s mechanics, and how the wheel was destroyed by a mysterious figure known as Dr. Grey. The letters are all voiced beautifully by actress Anna Acton, and as the game progresses, the story is built piece by piece until what emerges is a hauntingly beautiful story of love and academia, STEM and progressiveness, and gender roles in both the house and workplace. It’s a heavy and complex topic for a platformer to undertake, and Hue handles it well, ensuring that the message is clear, while stopping just short of heavy-handedness.

Overall, Hue is a game that requires both the reflexes and attention of the player, but for those willing to invest some time into it, there’s a heck of a lot to love.

Backlog Update:

Two down.

Total Backlog: 211 210

(All images obtained from the official Hue website)