Concrete Genie review
Released: October 8th 2019
Genre: Action-adventure, Singleplayer
Imagination and art combined
Imagination and art, when combined, are a powerful source but when its entwined with a strong and meaningful narrative – it opens up a world full of wonder and excitement. Sony’s in-house developers, Pixelopus married these key elements beautifully when crafting their newest PlayStation 4 exclusive Concrete Genie in such a way, I really didn’t want to leave. It was everything I hoped it would be.
Concrete Genie set in a once vibrant town
Concrete Genie throws you into the shoes of Ash, a young boy with a creative flair. After witnessing his beloved once vibrant town Denksa fade to a dark, ugly ghost town due to it being corrupted by the oily underbelly of negative emotions, he sets out to restore it to its former glory. This process would be a lot simpler if it wasn’t for some bullies who prowl the streets, setting Ash in their sights and thus making his good intentions all the more difficult. After the bullies ripped up the pages of Ash’s art book sending them flying all over Denksa, Ash searches for them which leads him to a lighthouse set high on a hill overlooking the decrepit village.
This is where we met Luna – a beautiful but troubled genie – who gives Ash a magical paintbrush and where the world of Concrete Genie truly opens up. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a skilled artist to paint in Concrete Genie. With the simple use of the Dualshock 4 controller and the in-game pre-made images, you make cold, bleak walls and buildings come to life again; creating some of the most wondrous colours and creativity I’ve witnessed in a game. Not only do you craft artistic masterpieces all over the town’s structures breathing life into it once more, but you also encounter some unbelievably cute monster friends along the way.
These helpful friends are genies and they guide you along the entirety of your journey. While interacting with these adorable characters, I found myself with a constant smile on my face. Pixelopus have done an outstanding job at making the player care deeply about what they are doing. Not only about the games main character Ash and saving the town, but also the welfare of the genies. I felt like I was making a real positive difference while crafting beautiful lush tree designs or twinkling stars across a stunning aurora sky, banishing the black oil from buildings in the process. It wasn’t lost on me that while I was playing Concrete Genie, I was also going through a particularly tough time so this process had a real therapeutic effect on me so it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Puzzles, painting and breathing new life
Painting and interacting with adorable creatures isn’t all you will be doing throughout your time in Concrete Genie. The puzzle elements come to life fairly soon into your journey which is also combined with your task to reignite the strings of lights dotted around Denska. This then opens up many paths that will see you taking on the challenge of fixing fuse boxes and other obstacles that stand in your way, some that will even require the help from your friendly monster buddies who are only too happy to help. Each genie you encounter has a set of very special abilities that are perfect for what lays ahead. As the story unfolds, you will get to meet red genies, who generate fire; electricity-spouting yellow genies; and blue genies, who produce gusts of wind.
A journey steeped in understanding and kindness
The game’s puzzles and challenges are enjoyable and really satisfying once completed. I didn’t personally experience anything that was too much of an endeavour. Nor encountered anything that was too simplistic that could be classed as underwhelming. What Concrete Genie does extremely well is telling the story. Especially the awful group of bullies you can’t get away from throughout your gameplay. In the latter part of the game, Ash comes to realise why the bullies behave the way they do which leads into a real heartfelt message. Kindness, understanding, and overcoming play a big part in this compelling game with enough charm and wholesomeness to make its short journey a worthwhile and delightful journey.
Not ready for the end of your Concrete Genie journey?
Thankfully, my adventure into the world of Concrete Genie didn’t have to end when the game did. Dark Horse Comics and Pixelopus have announced The Art of Concrete Genie, a 160-page, full-colour art book packed to the brim with illustrations and artwork.
Here we will find many of the games characters and monsters explored further. We see more of the wonderful “living paint” mechanics and the lore that drives the town of Denska. Having experienced the game, it was great to then to take a look behind the scenes at how they first created Ash. Aswell as the many concept drawings that were considered before perfecting the main character. Not to mention the adorable genies that I now look upon as friends.
The background and art of the bullies is a lovely touch. We witness what they could have looked like, one of the artists thought about obscuring their faces to make them seem more menacing. However, they felt doing that would take away the fact that bullies can look like any normal kid. One of my favourite parts of the book – there are many by the way, is the “living art” section where the early stages of the designs take place.
Since all the designs you paint in Concrete Genie are based on nature, this area explains how they initially crafted these. This gives a beautiful insight into the creative and talented team at Pixelopus. The artbook is really comprehensive and detailed not to mention the wondrous colours that emit from each page. Had a long day? Light some candles, cosy up on the sofa, and get lost within the Concrete Genie world yet again.
Supporting the Valks
Any and all commission paid to the Valks through affiliate schemes or patronage goes back into the site. It helps with the hosting costs and the running costs. Anything you purchase through our links does earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. The continued support of our wonderful community is what keeps us going, so thank you again and again!
As always we hope you enjoy, if you would like to support our podcast and the site you can join our Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/thevalkyries
If you don’t want to join up but want to support us, you can donate via Kofi here: https://ko-fi.com/I2I6FUC7