There is something incredibly wholesome about the new action-adventure game from developer PixelOpus. Concrete Genie dares to do something different, combining a mix of platforming action with a dark but beautifully designed world.
Set in a fictional town called Denska, Concrete Genie is a wonderfully imagined tale where artistic hero Ash tries to turn the abandoned and polluted town into something more beautiful. In a world where we often deal with video game worlds and enemies through destruction, this platformer invites us to look at things a little bit differently.
There are two main game playing elements to Concrete Genie. The first is that of a fairly familiar platformer. Guide Ash by jumping, climbing and running through a semi-open world. The only real antagonists in the game other than the desolate town itself comes in the form of bullies who chase Ash around, taunting him for being different and throwing things at him.
As the story unfolds we learn about these bullies and see some backstory into their own personal misery which goes some way to explain why they are the way they are. This message is human and relatable and is a wonderful thing to be teaching younger players through the art form of gaming.
The second element to Concrete Genie and the most impressive and unique is the use of Ash’s giant and magical paintbrush. As you go through the game you unlock art work designs (from Ash’s journal). By using the stencils of each of these artworks you can turn dark and polluted walls into moving, glimmering, surprisingly impressive looking works of art.
By painting endless combinations of different patterns, plants, stars, oceans etc you create these really personalised works of art that really make you feel creative regardless of your real world artistic ability. You also unlock and create unique and magical genies on your way (by painting them) – each with different elemental powers and personalities, which assist you on your journey and add another interesting layer to the gameplay.
The controls are what make Concrete Genie so intuitive and fun to play. All the painting is done using the motion controls on the PS4 controller. This is the first game where it has actually felt like a beneficial decision to use this part of the controller rather than merely a gimmick. It is super easy to use and the way the paint brush responds to your movements really empowers you to get creative and have fun while doing so.
Your works of art that you paint over the town turn out stunningly regardless of how many ideas you blend together, really leaving you with a sense of satisfaction and pride at the way you brighten the town of Denska.
Overall Concrete Genie is a refreshingly unique and artistic game with a quirky approach to platforming and gameplay that people of all ages will get something out of. Whilst not hugely long, there is still plenty to climb, paint and do during your 6 hour journey.
– Ashton Brown