Concrete Genie is an excellent example of what happens when passionate developers pour creativity and originality into their games. For the past week, I had the chance to embark on a heartwarming journey filled with life and light in this new exclusive action-adventure game from one of Sony Interactive Entertainment’s smallest development studios, Pixelopus.
Concrete Genie is set in the fictional fishing town of Denska. Once bustling with life, the abandoned area is now a gloomy remnant of what it was, left to decay by its former people. The apparent reason for the townsfolk people’s departure was owed to the arrival of ‘the darkness’, which spread throughout Denska, making the town feel grungy and polluted. It is a mysterious, living organism with glowing purplish-black vines that creep around buildings and envelop objects as a parasite. The town’s only visitors are the hoodlum youth that uses it as their own personal playground. The story kicks off where, after a run-in with a gang of bullies, protagonist Ash watches helplessly as they rip apart his sketchbook and leave his pages to float on the wind and scatter themselves around Denska.
Shoved into a creaky cable car and sent to the lighthouse, he soon discovers that one of his lost sketches rides the wind all the way there too and, to his surprise, magically comes to life in the form of a living, breathing genie that lives on the walls. The genie, an adorable glowing little monster that communicates with hand gestures and deep, mystical growls, grants Ash a paintbrush and a cute little paint minion on his bag. She then tasks him with bringing light back to Denska by painting away the darkness.
Controlling Ash in familiar third-person movement feels natural and light. He’s a scrawny kid that is easily able to climb up walls, jump across roofs and zipline between telephone polls. Painting might feel strange at first as Pixelopus decided to use one of Playstation’s arguably underused features; motion control. Re-centering the brush is simple and after a short amount of practice, it not only feels easier but because you’re creating masterpiece elements with a magic brush, it feels right. For those who really don’t want to use motion control, the good news is that the game does allow players to use the right thumb-stick instead.
Knowing that the core gameplay hinges on getting creative in urban style, the developers spared no effort in giving the painting experience an abundance of detail.
You are encouraged to look for more missing pages of Ash’s notebook, each with a sketch of a new object you can paint.
The story is simple in its narrative with themes of home, adventure, being the underdog, discovery, understanding and even redemption...
A fantasy loving, Hip-hop dance teaching geek that once foolishly believed that he could download more RAM.
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Sony Interactive Entertainment
8 October 2019
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