PC, PS4, Vita, Xbox One

No mat­ter what un­earthly pow­ers you’re given in a 2D puz­zle-plat­former, there’s usu­ally a point at which you end up deal­ing with crates. You’ll push them, you’ll pull them, you’ll clam­ber on top of them to reach higher ar­eas, and, on oc­ca­sion, stack them. The first crate is al­ways the most dis­ap­point­ing: a sign that how­ever un­usual a game’s core me­chanic may be, it’s happy to rely upon the most rudi­men­tary of puz­zle in­gre­di­ents. Hue’s colour-chang­ing hook is a strong one, but too of­ten it’s in ser­vice of the kind of co­nun­drums we’ve seen many times be­fore.

With char­ac­ters and build­ings sil­hou­et­ted against a grey back­drop, at first it looks like a CBee­bies re­make of Limbo. A pa­per trail of letters re­veals that you’re look­ing for your ab­sent mother, a sci­en­tist con­duct­ing dan­ger­ous ex­per­i­ments with colour. Be­fore you can lo­cate her, you’re tasked with lo­cat­ing eight colour frag­ments, steadily un­lock­ing more of the world and erad­i­cat­ing the grey. In real terms, your power amounts to mak­ing things dis­ap­pear and reap­pear: the colours at­tach them­selves to a ra­dial wheel bound to the right stick, and you nudge it in the ap­pro­pri­ate di­rec­tion to re­veal or hide ob­jects from view. The only limit to your abil­ity is that you can’t be in the A high­light is a puz­zle that in­vites you to for­mu­late a multi-step plan to pro­ceed. Re­mem­ber­ing the or­der you need to switch colours is sim­ple enough, but com­bin­ing that with timely move­ment is some­thing else same po­si­tion as an ob­ject you need to reap­pear; as a re­sult, you can never paint your­self into a cor­ner, which cuts down on the frus­tra­tion of hav­ing to restart a room af­ter a mis­take.

Some puz­zles will, how­ever, re­quire a few re­tries. Hue smartly mixes up more thought­ful, se­date chal­lenges with those that de­mand sharp re­flexes. In one room, you’ll as­cend a stair­way as coloured skulls bounce down to­wards you, forc­ing you to shift colours with the right ana­logue as you climb with the left. Later, you’ll run across plat­forms of the same hue as de­scend­ing lasers, leap­ing for safe ground and shift­ing in mid-air be­fore the beam con­nects. If most puz­zle games try to make you feel smart, Hue is of­ten most suc­cess­ful when it makes you feel stupid; in the heat of the mo­ment, with your feet rest­ing on a crum­bling plat­form and a large gap in front of you, a pan­icked shift might just make it dis­ap­pear all the quicker.

Even dur­ing its most de­mand­ing sec­tions, Hue never stoops to frus­trat­ing fussi­ness, while its smart pac­ing en­sures that no ideas out­stay their wel­come. Its story is nicely nar­rated, its art is charm­ing, and its puz­zles are de­cent enough. In other words, it’s a per­fectly pleas­ant way to spend a few hours, if that’s all you’re look­ing for. But mere hours af­ter play­ing it, Hue is al­ready van­ish­ing into the back­ground of our minds, leav­ing only a vague sen­sa­tion of some­thing more tan­gi­ble.

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