Steam’s Next Fest is done and gone, but it gave us many wonderful demos to try out. Every Hue of You is one of them, and one I greatly enjoyed.
This is the debut visual novel by developer and publisher Cactus Jam Games, who you can follow on Twitter to keep yourself up to date!
Before playing, I did not have great expectations—the art looked pretty, but you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. I was wrong.
Every Hue of You follows the deeply personal and thoughtful journey of Twyla: A jeweller battling grief who awakens the power to enchant her creations with the energy of emotions.
CW: Discussions/mentions of depression, mental health, death and grief
Every Hue of You‘s demo is around a full hour, covering approximately one introductory chapter and introducing two main characters.
While I was expecting a shallow wholesome adventure, what I got was an emotional narrative that deals with emotions, mental health and adulthood. It’s the coming-of-age story I didn’t know I needed.
Maybe this is because of my tendency to want to go into games as blindly as possible, but this world’s lore truly captivated me. It caught me off guard how intimate it felt, and just how complex the world can be to navigate, since you have to always be aware of how you behave.
In this game’s world, emotions possess a special energy: Paeos. If you don’t keep your Paeos under control, anything can happen. An overwhelming joy can cause a field of flowers to bloom! Just as much, an intense anger can burn down forests.
So, in the city of Zenoa, people regulate their emotions so cautiously that emotional expression has become stigmatized and those who struggle to control their feelings are shamed by the community…
This type of world building and lore fits perfectly for the kind of story this game is telling, as it enables us to explore our feelings and the way mental health and grief is dealt with (unfortunately, in a similar way to our world).
In this world, the big worry is that something dangerous happening because of someone grieving or being in a depressive state and it draws an interesting parallel to our own world. Someone who is in such an emotional state isn’t necessarily producing “labor value”, so their value as humans is reduced — that’s just how our society works. People unable to work for whatever reason are called lazy and thrown aside to be ignored.
Going along with the narrative and overall story is the writing itself. It’s unfortunate, but a lot of OEVNs have either poor or lazy writing or are just very pretentious. Every Hue of You, however, has a relaxing pace and it made me lose track of time. The writing flows with the story like a natural breeze and makes the story all the more enjoyable. I even found myself grinning like an idiot while reading Twyla’s conversations with her clients.
Personally, my ability to enjoy and appreciate a cast of characters can be very hit-or-miss. I try to be open to every type of character, but some click with me and some don’t. This game managed to make me care for every character I met so far.
Even Twyla, as the protagonist—someone who’s usually a blank canvas for the reader to insert themselves in—feels like her own character, so full of life and struggles! While I have never properly dealt with the grief of someone’s death, I can relate to the emotions and the mentality it brings.
I love Twyla’s dynamics with both Lao and Jaz. Lao is like an old friend, while Jaz feels like your safe place, like both your cute niece and best friend at the same time. I can’t wait to play the full game and explore the rest of the cast! I miss them already.
I didn’t think I’d like Lao at first—he looks like your archetypal handsome man, but he’s very fun to interact with and I got more attached to him than I thought. Besides, I love the little butterflies in his design and he looks great. I do wonder what butterflies are meant to represent… maybe change? Maybe a transition in life?
Jaz is the local moth maniac.
She reminds me of my actual best friend, actually! Not because of the moths, but because she’s so bubbly and full of energy, even as she worries for her friend. I was able to relate a lot to Jaz’s friend, so their dynamic felt even more real.
Now, this is what attracted me to this VN in the first place. Call me a basic bitch, but if it looks weird or beautiful, there’s a higher chance I’ll play it. As I previously mentioned, I like to go in as blindly as possible, so the visuals are a crucial factor for drawing me in.
The art feels soft but full of life. Each character has many expressions and even Twyla herself gets a mini portrait so we can see how she’s feeling. It makes sense, especially in this world where emotions matter so much.
This might be the weakest aspect of the game—and it’s not even bad! That’s just how much I enjoyed this demo. The soundtrack feels casual and comfy to listen to, like something you’d listen at the end of tiring day. It blends well with the environment and makes the overall experience just that much smoother. It’s simple, yet effective in enhancing your present emotions—again, very clever, given the context for this game.
I usually don’t write a whole bunch about the UI or even the mechanics, as OEVNs UI usually are not distinguishable from all the other, but this one has a lot to offer—though I have some criticisms.
The UI is very pretty and smooth. The choices are done inside the textbox, which is a neat little details I enjoyed. However, the History/Backlog feature is counterintuitive, as VNs usually have the most recent text to show at the bottom while this one has it at the top. That not being the case here, it took a bit of time to get used to it. Besides that, the transitions between days are not smooth at all, and somewhat breaks the immersion.
When it comes to the mechanics, we have an in-game glossary—and a pretty smooth one at that, you just hover your mouse over the definition and a pop-up window with the definition appears!
I also loved the minigames in which Twyla makes jewelry. It’s really fun to choose which aspects of people you add to the whole creation process. My favorite bit was the “enchanting” bit. Maybe the big negative for me would be the “Simon says” mini-game, as it’s a bit sudden and fast to follow; it’s doable, but could be improved.
It’s been a while since I have played a demo, and covering these types of VNs for Fuwa enabled me to find so many hidden gems. Every Hue of You is one of those, and I hope the full version turns this beautiful demo into a sparkling crown, because it deserves it!
It’s just a demo, but it made me cry twice and I still think about it to this day, so I can only imagine what the full version will be like. I plan on reviewing the full game soon!