Every Hue Of You Review - Emotive Resonance
Every Hue of You is a coming-of-age visual novel created by the studio Cactus Jam Games. The Melbourne based studio was lucky enough to receive funding from Vicscreen, and have decided to pay it forward by donating some of the proceeds of the $18(Aus) game to the charity “The Life You Can Save”. “The Life You Can Save” prioritizes charities that help others, rather than taking the money to deal with their ridiculous overheads. It seems that compassion and empathy are very important to the developers of the game, as while the game has an incredibly complex story, compassion and empathy are always there as an underlying tone. Of course, with a story as intertwined with emotions as this, it was always going to have some complexity.
Every hue of you takes place in a fictional variation of the modern world where emotions present themselves as Paeos. Inability to keep Paeos in check can cause the natural environment around them to become affected and change in a drastic manner. This can be something as small as a strong gust of wind to a full-blown hurricane. Any force of nature can be affected by these “outbursts”.
While each place has their own way of dealing with Paeos to prevent outbreaks, Zenoa used its founding philosophy of stoicism to guide them. This philosophy has the principle of using rational thought to help keep one’s emotions under control. However, under the guise of controlling Paeos outbreaks, regulations tightened leading to the eventual creation of the Paeos police. The Paeos police was the collective name of the anonymous tipsters who would tell the government about people using Paeos, intentionally or not. This led to greater dissent, eventually erupting into full blown riots as people felt emotionally repressed. This explosion of emotion was a disaster waiting to happen, and happen it did. A massive outbreak resulting in an enormous tsunami devastated Zenoa, leaving a massive scar that permeates the city to this day even though 60 years have passed. Stoicism became taboo, and the government formed the PRS, the Paeos Response Squad, a group of officers designed to help people get through their emotions when outbursts happen. This group is also known by another word, Tracers. Even the mere sight of one can make people feel on edge and leave an air of distrust lingering.
A young woman named Tywla is trying to navigate the world after losing her mother. Struggling with her grief she attempts to run her mother’s jewellery shop which used to be so famous that people from all over would come to visit. As she is keenly feeling the failure to live up to her perceived expectations from her mother, a Tracer named Laos enters the store. At first, unwilling to let the young man help her, Twyla eventually relents and in doing so, discovers that she’s a conduit with the ability to enchant jewellery with emotions. With a new purpose in mind, the Twilight Jeweller becomes home to the Enchantress.
Being a visual novel, interactivity isn’t huge but to make up for that the world of the visual novel must be brought to life with interesting characters, good sound design and most importantly, an amazing story. Every hue of you nailed these aspects. The story explores a variety of complex issues, including many that our society today still struggles with. It takes a good look at the problems we may face but inside a fantastical world where these problems have very visible consequences. Often in the act of making jewellery, Tywla uses compassion to try and get to correct emotion from the customer. She then needs to use empathy to apply the Paeos to the item she’s created. It helps that the characters and their stories are unique as well as diverse. The illustrations further showcase the type of person these characters are as they change to dynamic poses when the situation calls for it. The sound design will often help accentuate poignant and intense moments with vocal noises such as laughs, groans or sighs. Although this is the extent of the voice acting. Furthermore, during times when Tywla vibes well with customers in conversation, a small melody which is unique to each character will play. This is on top of the music already changing depending on who she is talking to. The Twilight Jeweller has a jazzy soundtrack that plays when Twyla is alone. However, as customers enter the shop, other instruments will also join in on the jam session. For example, when talking to Antonio, a woodwind instrument which is either an oboe or clarinet would complement what already is playing. It is a small thing, but each of these small things helps build a luscious world that feels lived in.
While there are many positives to this visual novel, Every Hue of you does have some downsides. It often feels like choices have no real consequence. It might give additional dialogue for a character, but otherwise, it’s straightforward. Obviously, having branching paths can become a mess very quickly and it’s why some visual novels like Rewrite require multiple playthroughs just to get the entirety of the story and a chance at the true ending. Every hue of you will only require one playthrough, but it’s not a bad thing as its narrative is incredible. It will stay with the player long after completing it. What won’t stay is the mini games.
The jewellery making mini game asks if the item should be made of gold or silver metal and then asks a variety of questions while Twyla is creating the piece. Unfortunately, these questions are a look into Twyla’s current thoughts which don’t really have anything to do with the actual piece creation. Aside from the initial metal choice, the design of the piece won’t change. It would have been nice if the creation process was more like a crafting mini-game or if the results differed slightly depending on the answers picked. It was hard to care too much about what was chosen when ultimately it didn’t matter.
The Paeos mini-game is where the player is required to identify how much happiness, anger, sadness and fear makes up the emotion that Twyla is looking for. Five Paeos will appear on screen to be chosen from, but aside from an achievement for picking it right the first time, there’s no real consequences for getting it wrong. Helpfully, the game removes the wrong answers ultimately leaving one option if you get it wrong four times. For emotions like joy, it’s not hard to tell what Paeos is required, but for other more complicated ones like arrogance, it can be difficult. Once the Paeos required is identified, Every Hue of you moves onto the last of the mini-games. In this one, players need to memorise the order the emotions show up to embed them into the piece. If the player gets it wrong, the sequence in which they appear will change. While simple, this mini game and the Paeos one gave me problems when I was using a keyboard and mouse. Every Hue of you supports both controller and keyboard and mouse, but I found the user interface was non-existent with keyboard and mouse. The prompts for things like next page, glossary and other options just disappear. Speaking of disappearing, mini-games are impossible when the mouse is not visible on the screen. I had to resort to clicking and dragging my mouse to find out where the pointer was to complete them. Hopefully this is something Cactus jam games will rectify in the future, but until they do, it’s best to use a controller.
Ultimately, Every hue of you is an excellent game unable to escape the downfalls of its genre. While Twyla learns how to deal with her emotions, players can learn strategies to deal with their own. The game tries to teach people that emotions are not something to be feared in a rich, well-built world not too dissimilar to our own. Just like humans and the emotions it features so prominently, it has its flaws but despite that, it’s an enchanting visual novel.
Every Hue Of You was reviewed on PC with code that was kindly provided by the developer.