iHUGU – A vibrant, baffling hugfest that lacks substance

Oct 28, 2017

iHUGU (I hug you) wants to make you a better human being; its message is that love will set you free. The game tasks you with spreading positivity by hugging a host of quirky characters, but you’ll be embracing more fulfilling adventures elsewhere before long.

The title’s vibrant, pixelated art style and throwback soundtrack are appealing, and there’s a catchy synth reggae theme tune. But beneath the colourful, arbitrary weirdness there’s very little in the form of substantial gameplay.

You are required to hug each new character you encounter. For some reason it’s Game Over if you hug the same one twice in one level— you can’t be that free with your love, you weirdo. It’s also curtains if you don’t hug someone you’re supposed to. And you’ll have made them sad. Aww. iHUGU is essentially a memory game. You swipe right to hug someone, or swipe left to avoid them. It gets dull quickly. Alternatively, you can encounter just as many bizarre characters swiping on Tinder for half an hour. During a level, if you aren’t sure whether you’ve met someone before, you can select a lifebuoy (obviously) to skip the social awkwardness. You can’t do that IRL, so it beats Tinder there I guess. Each time you make a correct call in the game, you get a heart. These are totalled up to give you your score, which can be ranked online, and your hearts contribute towards a worldwide total. This accumulated love, I assume, is right now congealing underground like reverse Ghostbusters II Mood Slime. Or maybe not.

iHUGU Review | Appolicious

iHUGU wants to make you a better human being; its message is that love will set you free: https://appolicious.com/ihugu-a-vibrant-baffling-hugfest-that-lacks-substance

Amid the hugfest, in little bonus rounds, you can also collect clovers (again, obvs). You can catch them as they fall from the sky, or grab them by jumping over bins. Clovers can be spent in a cute lottery machine that unlocks new playable characters at random. Daily quests reward the player with bonus clovers and decorative stars for their character. Unlocking characters and gaining stars will earn the player achievements. But, seriously, anyone who sticks at iHUGU long enough to gain the latter achievements is probably in need of an actual hug. Another kind of bonus round involves a ‘hug fight’ with the game’s mascot, Hugman. He’s a buff, humanoid heart who wants to take you to the gun show. If you don’t fancy the random lotto, this wonderful character can be purchased for £2.49 — a price totally in the spirit of love and kindness. I mean, it’s not like you can buy entire apps for less than that or anything. If so inclined, the player can also purchase a few other special characters as well as packs containing clovers, stars, and lifebuoys.

It gets dull quickly. Alternatively, you can encounter just as many bizarre characters swiping on Tinder for half an hour.

iHUGU certainly has a sense of humour: among its population of playable characters are cheeky renderings of political figures such as Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un, and Vladimir Putin. Hopefully these won’t get anyone nuked. They’ll bring a wry smile, but they’re not going to motivate you to chase those clovers for long. Additionally, you can unlock pop culture favourites like Harry Potter and a fun menagerie of weird creatures. However, the game crosses the line with its lazy cultural stereotype characters which, instead of spreading love, might cause offence. On a more positive note, from the initially unlocked toons, you could choose Moss from The IT Crowd or a kind of rabbit-dog-llama creature thing. You can customise your character using parts of the ones you’ve unlocked. I combined the two just mentioned, because I like my rabbit-dog-llamas dressed in smart casual.

iHUGU is a bit of a novelty; its charms are purely superficial. It’s a commendably upbeat, unconventional game, with a lovely retro style and some humour, but the gameplay severely lacks depth. It’s fun to try but it won’t hold you for long.

Our Rating

Lovely retro style. Catchy theme song. Quirky with some humour. Customisation.Gameplay severely lacks depth. Some stereotyped characters. Some cynical pricing.
Price: Free+
Price: Free+
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Adam Wareing

A Scouse adventure game fan with a weakness for Mexican food.

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