Hue opens with a little man, a side-scrolling grayscale world, and a letter. I guide him forward to pick up the letter, and as he does, narration begins. Hue – the main character, not just the title of the game – is being written to by someone lost and trapped outside the known world, and must go in search of her. How did she become trapped? Through the manipulation of color.
Hue places players in an initially monochromatic world, that begins to show hints of color as the player is given them. A color wheel is accessible at the tap of the right stick if playing with a controller, meaning that a given shade is just a nudge away. Activating a color on your wheel will turn the world around you that color, save for black objects, which you will learn are always solid and present no matter what. On the flipside, a lot of objects in the world are a certain color, always one that shows up on the wheel. Turn the world the same color as an object, say goodbye to that nice little block or doorway. Quick color-swapping becomes instinctive after a little bit of platforming and self-adjusting.
Within the context of the preview, I played to the point of getting three colors on the wheel (there appear to be 10 in all). The game so far does a well-paced job of making its puzzles more complex. The player might have to turn an environment blue in order to eliminate a blue blockade halting progress, but in doing so may also get rid of a blue plank holding a boulder back from crushing them. There’s an impressive amount of thought put into these levels. As a third color got introduced, I found myself having to do more and more mid-jump color changing and the like, making platforms in some colors visible while disappearing others.
It’s also worth noting that Hue‘s visual design is pretty great, even during parts when everything is rendered in shades of grey. The whole thing has a very storybook-like visual feel, complimented by some more mysterious elements. In my time with the game, I was guided by a mysterious hooded figure, and found gargoylish statues and structures that gave me pause to wonder about the true nature of Hue‘s world. More of that when time comes for the full review, of course.
Hue is also doing a lot well with its narration. Every letter collected in the game’s world begins another bit of narration by the writer, a woman who has gone missing after experimenting with the perception of color. The plot unfolds exclusively through these letters (thus far), slowly revealing a story involving a mysterious man named Dr. Grey. So far, things are unfolding in a way that doesn’t show a lot of plot in the foreground, but plenty in the margins.
Hue has plenty of colors to show off, and we’re still discovering new shades as we go. A full review will be incoming in the coming days, so check back for more as it makes itself visible to the realm of the chromatic. Hue shows its true colors on Steam, Xbox One and PS4 on August 23rd.