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A Great Pairing

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    Rating: 4.0 – Great

    A Great Pairing

    Hue is at heart a puzzle game where you can change the background color of the stage and make all objects of that color disappear. Though it starts simply and lets you make easy progress with only one color to turn on or off, it soon adds a second color, and then a third. At that point, the puzzles start to get more interesting. Meanwhile, the game continues to add more colors, eventually granting you eight in total. By the end of the game, you’ll spend a lot more time thinking and planning before you just bulldoze your way through, lest you risk getting yourself stuck or killed.

    Killed? Well yes, that can happen, because all of this puzzling is delivered through platforming game play, so an element of technical skill becomes necessary as well, since some of the puzzles require you to switch colors in mid jump or fall, as the only safe place from the dangers of both colors lies in that split second of space in between. Other times, you must move quickly because time is limited due to moving objects of a color that you just removed or revealed.

    In my opinion, Hue strikes a great balance between both its puzzling and platforming aspects and plays smoothly. It also has great background music (mostly ambient and atmospheric, as opposed to melodic) and good sound effects. Additionally, I enjoyed the voice work that fleshed out the narrative, though I must admit the story seemed to be a little vague (maybe on purpose). Or maybe I’m just not that deep, and didn’t get it. It’s not that big of a deal – the game is fun, and the talking adds to the experience, even if I might be coloring my own interpretation into its intended meaning.

    Hue becomes challenging near the end, but not really frustrating, since despite the complicated setups, you generally have all the time you need to think things through before executing your plan. Though there are traps that can kill you, there are never enemies to chase or distract you. The only stage that I felt some true shenanigans were required was the last puzzle of the game, and it might just be because I did it the wrong way. Nevertheless, what I did worked, so yes, when you get there, it IS beatable! Just sayin’ there might also be a simpler way that I wasn’t grasping, because on another stage near the end of the game, I pulled off an impressive feat of platforming timing to pass a tough part of the stage, and then, after dying later in the level, realized there was a proper way to do the first part that I had missed. Guess I gamed the game – which is kind of satisfying in its own right!

    One gripe I have with the game is that some of the colors are too similar, and I often died because I selected the wrong one in a situation that required precision timing. Maybe this is on purpose to add challenge, but it wasn’t really fun replaying levels simply because I confused colors when I totally knew what I was supposed to do. Also, the game has hidden collectible beakers in it to collect, but since many of them are inaccessible on your first playthrough (due to colors you don’t have), a second go-around is necessary to get them, which is kind of lame. Puzzle games are fun the first time, but repeating puzzles just to basically unlock an achievement (I don’t believe these beakers change the ending) wasn’t worth it for me, so I didn’t even do it. It would have been better if a skilled player could at least potentially find them in a single playthrough, despite them remaining difficult to find or access.

    However, gripes aside, the bottom line is that Hue succeeds at what it sets out to do. There aren’t many "wow" moments in the game, but I still found myself smiling at how clever the game’s puzzles made me feel when I solved them, and I impressed my wife with the platforming skills I employed to execute some of the solutions once I figured them out. Hue isn’t big and epic or full of moments you gotta see, but it is a darn good puzzle game. If you like to solve puzzles, you’ll surely enjoy your time with Hue.

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