Concrete Genie review – a bright and thoughtful exploration of some dark and difficult themes • Eurogamer.net

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Ever since its announcement at 2017’s Paris Games Week, PlayStation unique Concrete Genie has been nothing quick of intriguing. The setting, the beautiful artwork fashion, the creative sport play – this an bold sport for Pixel Opus, a studio of college graduates whose solely different title is Entwined, however that ambition has served them nicely. Concrete Genie is every little thing I hoped it could be.

Concrete Genie review

  • Developer:Pixel Opus
  • Publisher:SIEE
  • Platform: Reviewed on PS4
  • Availability: Out now on PS4

It sees you step into the footwear of Ash, a younger boy exploring and portray in his now deserted residence city of Denska. It’s not lengthy earlier than you are interrupted by a group of bullies who rip aside your sketchbook and shove you onto a tram, trapping you in a haunted lighthouse. It’s right here your journey begins, and the dilapidated city begins to brighten up along with your discovery of a genie and a magic paintbrush.

Concrete Genie is predominantly about portray. Your important purpose is to gather the ripped pages of your sketchbook and use your designs to brighten the city’s gloomy partitions. Each new space you go to will offer you new themed sketches, from forests and flowers, to ponds and thunderstorms, every designed to replicate Ash’s feelings at totally different factors within the sport. To carry out the portray you may want to pick out a design out of your sketchbook, then drag your controller within the path of the way you’d prefer it to seem. It’s very a lot designed so regardless of your creative ability, you can also make some stunning work.

It’s good to search out a sport that bothers utilizing the movement controls within the DualShock 4 – it is even nicer to search out a sport that makes use of these movement controls fairly nicely. At first they really feel finicky, however when you get the grasp of it you may end up pace portray stunning landscapes very quickly. If you do not fancy waving your controller round within the air pretending you’ve got a magic paintbrush, you’ll be able to choose to simply use the analog sticks to color too (although it is by no means fairly as satisfying enjoying that means).

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The rating is pleasant too, every design you paint triggering a distinctive sound or piece of music that performs as you paint it. When you end portray a zone, Concrete Genie rewards you with an outline of all of the areas you’ve got lit up. It’s uncommon to search out a sport the place the participant helps create the ambiance of a setting, and it is a fantastic feeling to look again at what you’ve got finished to revitalise the city.

Throughout you may have probabilities to attract genies, vibrant creatures that dwell in your paintings, and can assist you bypass obstacles to progress. Red genies, for instance, have fireplace powers, and can burn issues like tarps to create platforms so that you can leap on. Genies will not at all times aid you totally free nevertheless, every has a totally different persona relying on the way you draw them, and sometimes they will ask you to attract one thing – like an apple to eat, or campfire to heat up round – earlier than they’re blissful that will help you out. It’s fairly coronary heart-warming watching them lovingly observe you round, and makes an in any other case lonely map full of life and character.

Sometimes once you name the genies over that will help you, they do want telling a few occasions earlier than they will step in. Occasionally I discovered that they’d perceive my request, however simply took their time to get to it, whereas I frustratedly stood there waving my paint brush round like a nutter. This is probably going simply me being impatient although – the sweetness of a sport like that is that there is actually no rush to get every little thing finished, and you may have rather more enjoyable in case you take your time with it.

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While we by no means discover out the place the magic of the genies has come from, there are snippets of lore to search out all through the sport, pertaining to how Denska grew to become this dark and desolate place. The implication is that an oil spill ruined the fishing trade there, although with Ash’s discovery of the magic that appears to linger within the city, it appears environmental disasters aren’t the one consider play. This ambiguity permits the sport to discover essential themes not simply concerning the setting, but additionally about how our feelings can have an effect on the world round us.

For starters, a sport that covers concepts of saving the setting could not have come at a extra pertinent time – whether or not it was intentional or not, a story about children saving a city ruined by human error appears extra related than ever.

Themes round emotion are explored via the tales of the bullies, exhibiting us occasional glimpses of their backgrounds serving to Ash to raised perceive why they act so cruelly in direction of him. When I spoke to the sport’s artistic director in July, we mentioned how the studio has researched bullying, and one of the primary messages he hopes gamers take from the sport is easy methods to break the bullying cycle “with some tolerance, empathy and understanding”, and this message actually comes via in direction of the top of the sport. While the plot is considerably predictable, it does not take away from the very fact it has been crafted with care and consideration true to the message it is making an attempt to ship.

After your peaceable time portray, there are some fairly heartbreaking scenes that push the story into the top sport. You study concerning the occasions which have lead the bullies to behave the way in which they do, and watch them ruining some of the work you and your genies have spent treasured time creating. The tone of the sport modifications after this, introducing a new risk within the type of the Dark genies we see within the trailer.

With these enemies comes a new fight mechanic that is fairly stark in distinction to the remainder of the sport play. It’s not too difficult and provides an fascinating change of tempo to the story as nicely, giving Ash a new outlet to launch some emotion, and face a larger risk than what the bullies had introduced up to now.

It’s throughout this part that incorporates my solely gripe with the sport, and that is simply that the Dark genies look a bit odd. Unlike your genies painted on the partitions, these dark genies are 3D, and sadly some of their options look a bit, nicely, derpy. While the 2D creations you make transfer fluidly, the 3D monsters have their options clipping far and wide.

After finishing the primary occasions of the sport, you’ll be able to proceed the place you left off in Denska to color and gather something you’ll have missed fully undisturbed. While it solely takes about 5 hours to finish the story, given sufficient time I may spend days traversing its modest open world, portray, repainting, and hanging out with my genie buddies. There’s one thing about city exploration that is at all times fascinated me too, and I’m at all times shocked there aren’t extra video games (that are not horror associated) that delve into its world, however Concrete Genie scratches that itch, offering a artistic outlet to go together with it.

Concrete Genie is an bold sport, and it matches that ambition with coronary heart. There’s a lot of it right here, from the animation fashion, proper right down to the experiences of every character. There’s one thing touching and private about some of the tales advised, and it makes all of the distinction. The finest strategy to have these tales really feel genuine is to have them come instantly from private experiences. I hope whoever on the dev workforce could have skilled these items is aware of what a actually pretty sport has come of them.

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