As beautiful and as innovative the game Concrete Genie by PixelOpus is, it has somehow managed to elude my radar. It was apparently first revealed at last year’s E3 and on previous PSXs and Paris Games Weeks but I still had not caught word of it. That’s why when I was making the rounds at the Playstation Booth at Taipei Game Show 2019 this weekend, I was so taken aback by its gorgeous aesthetics, that I had to drop everything that I was doing and fall in line to play it.
Here’s what I’ve found out about the game in our Hands-On Impressions
Despite its striking visuals and colorful stylings, Concrete Genie is actually more like one of those games that you pop in on a lazy Sunday afternoon laying down on your couch cozying up with your favorite drink. It’s chill like that.
You control a boy named Ash in a gloomy, deserted old town called Denska. Ashe finds a magical brush that can paint luminous, moving images on the walls and breathe life to living magical creatures called Genies. It then falls upon Ashe and the Genies to reinvigorate the town from it’s dark and dreary state and bring life back to its streets.
Starry, Starry Night
The main gameplay mechanic in Concrete Genie is Painting. Tapping on the trackpad on the PS4 Controller unsheathes your magic brush and engages the painting reticule and interface. You use the PS4’s six axis motion controls to guide your brush stroke while holding R2 to paint your beautiful masterpiece on the wall. Once you’ve gotten used to the motion controls you’ll find that they’re quite intuitive and you’ll be making beautiful obras in on time. You’re also given a palette which instead of colors of paint, contain different images that you can bring to life. There are stars, trees of all shapes, grass, fruits, branches and even fire that you shape and adorn your beautiful concrete canvas with.
As you paint in Concrete Genie, you light up tiny light bulbs around the current zone that you’re in to signify your progress. Once you light up all the bulbs, you progress to the next area. Once you reach to the final zone, It’s time to put up you Masterpiece Painting! The Genies that you’ve summoned will come and aid you during these segments and tell you what they want on the canvas. Once the Masterpiece Painting is done the Genies will bring it to life and you’ll one step closer to saving the town!
Speaking of Genies…
You Ain’t Never Had A Friend Like Me
Ash also gains the power to summon magical creatures called Genies in every zone he visits. You can shape these Genies in however way you want them to look using the same painting controls as described before. But instead of flowers and trees, you’re given an assortment of heads, tails, wings and horns to craft your mystic helper. In our hands-on time, we made a large towering Genie with seven tails and horns as long as it’s body; a small angry genie with a long winding tail, and a cute little genie with feathers for arms and a single horn on its head!
Once you’ve brought you Genie to life they will run around in your drawings interacting with them and playing around in them. They will even interact with “real world” items! There was even this one bit where you have to call your genie towards a basketball and a hoop and he’ll grab the ball and shoot it in! This interaction also ties into the gameplay as sometimes you’ll need your Genie’s supernatural strength and abilities to help move objects in order to progress.
Genie’s also grant you the power to use Super Paint which covers more areas and lights up more bulbs than your regular paint. Super Paint also allows you to paint on walls that have a mystic looking energy around them which is inaccessible to regular paint. By painting what a particular genie suggests through a friendly thought bubble, you will gain their favor. If you make a genie happy enough he’ll grow with energy that you can harness via your Magic Brush which will give you access to Super Paint.
Painted To A Corner
Not everyone you run into in Denska is helpful though, as Ash also runs into a gang of bullies that hassle and make life difficult for him. There’s no real way to fight these bullies, at least not in the demo I played, as they’ll quickly overpower Ash and push him to the ground as the magic brush rolls away from him. The best recourse is to just run and use the game’s vertical level design against them. By climbing dumpsters, parkouring up the rooftops and using ziplines you’ll evade the bullies and live to paint another day.
Note that, as far as we know, encountering these bullies and being pushed to the ground is the game’s only fail state. It’s not even a hard stop in terms of gameplay. Once you get pushed to the ground, you take a while to get back up but you don’t necessarily stop playing. There’s no game over screen and gameplay continues normally once you’re on your feet. I guess this serves a subtle metaphor for bullies, they’ll knock you down but they should never really keep you down.
Between its gorgeous visuals which evoke Kubo and the Two Strings vibes mixed with a healthy dose of neon paint and a relaxing almost zen-like gameplay, Concrete Genie is sure to be a staple cool down game to shake the stress away from a busy day. We can’t wait to hunker down on the sofa with a glass of cocoa when Concrete Genie comes out on exclusively on PS4 in 2019
Check out the trailer here:
What would your Genie look like? Let us know on the comments below or on the GG Network Facebook Page! We’d love to hear what you think!