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Awards

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You Might Like

  • VR Compatible
  • Cute
  • Genies
  • Creating art
  • Setting

Might Not Like

  • Short Campaign
  • Missed gameplay opportunities
  • Limited art assets
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Concrete Genie PS4 Review

Concrete Genie

Concrete Genie, created by Pixelopus, is a unique game where players bring a city back to life using vibrant artwork. With a runtime of 6-8 hours is this game worth picking up?

Ash’s Adventure

The game’s story follows budding artist, Ash, who wants to rescue his hometown, Denska. After an oil spill, the bustling seaside town is now grey, empty, and rundown. The town is also home to a gang of bullies who like to give Ash a hard time. During the game, you will learn more about this gang and spend time avoiding them.

There is a fantastical element, as Ash’s artistic creations come to life in the form of Genies. These beings can talk to Ash and help him fight off the rot which is taking hold of the town.

What I enjoyed about the story of Concrete Genie was how it tackled dark subjects. It discusses bullying, isolation and environmental issues but also the power of creativity. The game unpacks all these themes with great care. Everything is fleshed out and no stone is left unturned. The plot is engaging and unfurls at a rapid pace which makes it enjoyable to follow.

Discover Denska

When travelling through the four sections of Denska you’ll find yourself platforming and solving puzzles. Platforming is so intuitive that at times I wondered if Ash was related to Nathan Drake! Puzzles are fun to solve but aren’t the most challenging or dynamic. The best part of Concrete Genie is its paint mechanic. To rid Denska of darkness, Ash must paint murals across town with his magical brush. These paintings light up the town and unlock new areas. Players can also paint any surface they can find, just for fun.

When painting players can use motion controls or settle for the trusty analogue stick setup. I opted for the later as I've never liked the motion features. Yet, in Concrete Genie this is well implemented and easy to use. Motion controls do add to the fluidity of Ash’s brush, so they are worth a try.

When creating artworks, you can only use drawings found in Ash’s sketchbook. Due to the pages being ripped out, at the beginning of the game, players are tasked with finding these so they can paint different objects. Chasing down the pages was great fun as I was never sure what item I would unlock to paint. Revealing new assets to add to murals is satisfying as they add more depth to designs. You can paint mountains, starry skies, storms, forests and more. It really is something to behold when you’ve painted the whole town.

Near the end of the game, the gameplay alters. Suddenly, Ash can fight using a few basic attacks. This shift to combat was a strange decision and felt out of place in this world. The boss fights weren’t bad, but the mechanics felt half-baked and unnecessary in this little platformer.

Genie Graffiti

When it comes to painting, Ash can also create Genies. Genies are living creatures which can move around the map and help you with tasks. There are fire, wind and electrical Genies which will help you when solving puzzles. When creating Genies, you have access to assets which make up the creature. This means that every player’s Genie will be different as they’re created by you.

As I wasn’t great at painting, my Genies weren’t the best looking, especially at the beginning of the game. Nevertheless, when animated they were cute, and I loved watching them run around. Genie’s will ask you to paint specific items, do so and they will reward you with super paint. This ability will help you get rid of the rot which clings to areas of Denska.

As well as this, you can play with your Genies. Paint them apples and they will eat them; paint them snow and they will run around in it. They are moving designs against your painted backdrops. The way the game lets you overlap designs means you can create lush environments for your Genies. It's hard to describe on paper but just know it's aesthetically pleasing.

Vibrant VR

Along with the base game Concrete Genie also comes with a VR mode. One mode acts as a tutorial where players paint what they are asked to, and the second mode is free paint. In free paint you unlock different areas around Denska and can paint whatever you want using the assets given. The VR is a nifty addition and does add an extra 2 hours of gameplay if you have the PlayStation VR. In VR, players can see their designs in 3D.

Due to hardware restrictions, you cannot paint too many assets. If the world gets too busy your painted objects disappear. It’s an added fun experience but if you don’t have a PlayStation VR, the basic game is great on its own.

Final Verdict

Concrete Genie may be a small game but it's worth every penny. It’s a perfect example of quality over quantity. This game is charming, beautiful and heart-warming. I enjoyed jumping over the rooftops of Denska chasing art sheets and designing my masterpieces.

What took me by surprise was the story. This story packs a punch. It's not just about a boy being bullied, its far deeper than that, it's about connection through creativity and understanding. The redemption arc of the bullies was a particular highlight as I really didn’t see that coming. I thought they were an enemy to stealth around, but the game went deeper. It was an emotional rollercoaster, and I was cheering Ash on all the way through.

Despite praise, Concrete Genie does have some flaws. The combat section at the end was interesting but badly implemented. This made the final act less climatic. Furthermore, the game’s puzzles were far too easy. In general, Concrete Genie missed opportunities to make the game better. As a player there were a few times I was left wondering why they didn’t do that or why can’t I do this. Quick changes would’ve enhanced this game and lengthened its runtime.

Concrete Genie is a gem of a game. It tries something new and breaks free from the norm, yet the developer's vision of creativity isn’t quite realised, as premade art assets are restricting not liberating. Although this game missed a few opportunities to claw its way to greatness, it’s an adventure not to be missed.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You might like

  • VR Compatible
  • Cute
  • Genies
  • Creating art
  • Setting

Might not like

  • Short Campaign
  • Missed gameplay opportunities
  • Limited art assets

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