Concrete Genie is an action-adventure game from Pixelopus and is heavily inspired by Sega’s Jet Set Radio. A relatively new studio, Pixelopus is one of Sony Interactive Entertainment’s smallest development studios. And, Concrete Genie is only their second game ever, which they have developed.
First announced at Paris Games Week 2017, Concrete Genie was delayed from late 2018 until October this year. This extra time allotted Pixelopus to fine tune the game and add PlayStation VR modes to the game.
Let’s take a look at Concrete Genie and see how its story, unique gameplay and visuals come together to provide a solid experience along with a budget friendly price.
Concrete Genie Details
Platform: PlayStation 4
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Modes: Single player
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
A story about unique creations and personal connections
The game takes place in a small abandoned and polluted seaside town known as Denska. You play as a young teenage boy named Ash who doesn’t have many, if any, friends. He has a passion for drawing and escapes his troubles by drawing in his sketch book, which he keeps him at all times.
Denska is Ash’s hometown, so he often goes to the abandoned seaside town to draw and get away from people. Early on in the game, Ash is bullied and his sketch book is ripped apart. The pages are scattered around Denska and now Ash must go find each page to put his sketch book back together.
Over the span of the 6 to 8-hour adventure, Ash’s story explores various different themes including bullying, trouble home life, and personal connections he makes along the way. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised at just how well the story deals with these themes, which many teenagers face on a daily basis.
Magical painting experiences
In addition to Concrete Genie‘s story, gameplay it what makes this game a solid adventure. As Ash is looking for the pages of his sketch book, he discovers that he can bring personalized Genies to life. This is done by using Ash’s magical brush and “Living Paint”. And, depending on how you paint these Genies and what colour use will affect their personalities. Red genies will help you clear obstacles in your way, yellow genies use electric to open gates and power up machines, and blue genies use wind to move things.
As you make your way through Denska looking for the pages of your sketch book, the Genies help you solve puzzles and restore Denska to the beautiful city it once was. Denska is broken up to neighbourhoods, which require puzzles to be solved in order to advance. Additionally, you must avoid the gang of bullies as you make your way through Denska and repair any of the artwork that they deface.
I really liked the freedom of creativity that Pixelopus gives to the player. By using the found pages in Ash’s sketch book you can create your own vibrant street art designs. And, your Genies will ask you to add certain items to your paintings, which can later lead to new unlockable abilities for Ash.
Honestly though, at times, I found gameplay to be a tad bit repetitive. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed playing the game. However, it’s not until the last two chapters of the game that the gameplay is varied and-in my opinion-gets interesting. I don’t want to give too much away but the later chapters offer a welcome addition to gameplay that spices things up.
Living Paint brings the world around you to life
Pixelopus used the Unreal Engine 4 to power Concrete Genie‘s visuals and boy are they colourful. Since Denska is an abandoned and polluted town, the building and surroundings are mostly drab and dull colours. However, that all changes with Ash’s magical paint brush and paint. The beautiful creations you make are full of vibrant neon colours, make a world of difference and bring Denska to life.
Additionally, the game’s soundtrack is equally impressive as its visuals. The orchestral soundtrack invokes a wide range of emotions, such as loneliness, fear and victory. It all depends on where you are at in the story. For a game in this price range, I didn’t expect such high quality visuals and sound. Impressive!
PlayStation VR modes
There are two PSVR modes in Concrete Genie. The first is a mini game that stars Splotch, Ash’s backpack dwelling friend. In this adventure you travel beneath Denska’s lighthouse on a quest to unlock a mysterious new power.
The second is an immersive, first-person painting experience known as Free Paint Mode. You have a total of 4 different locations in Denska to choose from, where you can use all the Living Paint and genie brushes that you collect on your adventure. By using 2 PlayStation Move controllers you can create some pretty amazing things.
While I wouldn’t say that these two modes are must plays, they do add a nice touch to the game. Free Paint Mode had me coming back time and time again, long after I finished the game.
Concrete Genie is a heartwarming story of a young boy and the personal struggles he overcomes
Concrete Genie is a unique action-adventure game that deals with the many common struggles teenagers face. Gameplay gives you the freedom to paint until your hearts content and puzzles are never overly difficult but do offer a decent challenge.
The last few chapters of the game spice up the gameplay and offers an overall solid experience. Given that the game is budget friendly priced, I was very impressed with the visuals and soundtrack. I don’t usually expect to see such high presentation values in non AAA titles.
If you are looking for something different to play on your PlayStation 4, I recommend picking up Concrete Genie. For the price, you can’t go wrong. Although the story concludes Ash’s journey, I hope we will see Ash on the PlayStation 5 in the years to come.
+ Relatable and heartwarming story
+ Fun and unique gameplay
+ Creative freedom
+ Beautiful visuals
+ Fun PSVR modes
– Gameplay can get a tad repetitive early on
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF CONCRETE GENIE
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5