We live in times of worry, doubt and strife. Luckily, indie game companies have our backs. Zut! games, a small indie game studio based in London, has gifted us I Love Hue Too, a more uncanny successor to its predecessor, I Love Hue. Ha, ha. Puns.
I Love Hue Too is a game that strives for a different standard of hardcore. It’s a quiet kind of thinker game, as puzzlers generally are. You’ve still got a goal to achieve, but it doesn’t press you to fulfill them. Zut! claims to favor “loads of replay value and groovy retro feel” in their games. I’m not completely positive that they’ve achieved the “groovy retro feel” goal with this game. I get an overall vibe of “disgraced psychic haunted by dreams” meets “color theory.” However, they’ve definitely got replay value. Nine hundred levels aside, I could play and replay this forever, probably.
The rules are simple, as usual: unscramble the mixed-up color tiles on a color board to complete a level (hooray, color theory! With enough colors in the mix, everything becomes an ugly brown in the middle eventually). Finishing a level gives you a little heart. Gaining enough hearts unlocks further sections of the game. This is a step up from I Love Hue’s use of prisms, a kind of in-game currency, to continue gameplay. You ran out of prisms at a certain point and had to buy more. Here, we have hearts, and its better.
There are ten to sixteen levels per section. You’ve got big sections, which are called “Knowledge” and “Dreaming” and stuff like that, while harder sections subdivide into smaller sections that call themselves “Protection” and “Leadership” and other abstract concepts. Each big section is a different array thing, and the subsections are funky little symbols in the array. Does this make sense? Eh. But it looks cool.
I Love Hue Too tells you the fewest moves possible it takes to complete a level, as well as the world average. You can aim for these goals, but you don’t fail if you use too many moves. You’ll just feel bad about it. On the inside. In an attempt to keep you from hating yourself, I Love Hue Too is super encouraging. I mean, there aren’t a ton of games out there that will actively put down the player (I guess it takes all kinds), but this one is incredibly supportive of you in all your endeavors—seriously. I think it might propose marriage to me at some point soon.
If you get below the world average it gives you some mantra to say to yourself, like “I am a glorious oracle! I beat the world average!” But if you complete it in the fewest amount, the mantra gets more intense. Something along the lines of, “I am a wonderful, amazing, gorgeous, creative color magician! I solved this level with the fewest moves possible! WOW!!!” (These quotes are taken directly from the source). While getting the fewest moves is actually difficult, I’m not sure it warrants that much praise.
On the flip side, if you can’t beat the world average, it just tells you “Fantastic!” or something. Which, you know, is fine, but it’s kind of a step down from “gorgeous, creative color magician.”
This is all pretty much the same as the previous I Love Hue, only with more psychedelic mystery, prophesying, and the general inclusion of an overall theme besides color-matching. There are also other improvements and additions from the first game. The one that stands out most in my mind is the noise when you move a color tile. It isn’t weird anymore. This doesn’t sound like a huge improvement, but listen, I played I Love Hue wearing headphones and I had to turn off the noise because every time I moved a tile I thought something in my neck was popping, which was neither fun nor groovy. I guess it was kind of psychedelic, but not in a good way. I Love Hue Too also features a black background instead of white, and it includes way more creepy eyes in the design than the first. These are all a plus.
In addition to all these little details, there are more features, such as the “daily divinations.” Daily divinations are basically a mock-tarot reading and daily challenges rolled into one. Zut! has included more variation to the shapes in the puzzles, as well. The shapes for the first game were all squares, but in this one they’ve got all sorts of multi-faceted two-dimensional objects.
Also, they added fun and spooky little narrative pieces for each section. These narratives are purposefully vague and all talk about starlight, for reasons unknown.
Of course, we face the dangers of repetition that always come up with games like these. After about 200 levels, you start to start to get that feeling of “hey, haven’t I played this one before?”
We also face a two-edged sword: free hints. You don’t have to watch an ad or pay (actual money) for hints. They just add on extra moves to your total for the level, but that’s whatever. On the flip side, there’s random ads that happen between levels. These ads serve only to remind me how much I hate Merge dragons and Gardenscapes. You get the usual “skip after five seconds” rule for these ads. And hey, ads suck, like, as a rule, but it’s better than actually paying for the game—speaking of, you can get rid of ads forever for one easy payment of $4.99. Bleh.
The music is composed of pleasingly repetitive synth beats that graciously drift to the background section of your brain while you attempt to solve the puzzles. To be honest, I turned off the sound and switched to listening to the Wall-E soundtrack after the first few puzzles, because it’s not like you need the music.
The colors, of course, are gorgeous. I’m always a fan of a good color spectrum, and let’s just say, we’ve got the range. And the shape variation of the color tiles is definitely a step-up from the first game. We’ve got it all—triangles, squares, diamonds, hexagons, weird hexagons, octagons, shapes that look like eight-pointed stars, shapes that look like price tags, shapes that look spikes that look like you could impale a vampire with them, and so much more! (Listen, geometry was never my forte.)
This game itself isn’t super intense, but in these trying times, something calm and relaxing is probably what we all need at this point.
Is It Hardcore?
I Am Conflicted
Listen, I love this game—it’s a good game. But it falls short of being truly hardcore. It’s too chill for the more intense gamers out there.