Concrete Genie Review
After a nearly two year wait, Concrete Genie makes its way to the PlayStation 4. Is this action-adventure game worth the investment, or should you look elsewhere for your next gaming hit? Check out our review and find out.
Concrete Genie Review
Concrete Genie follows the story of Ash, a teenage painter who has a bully problem. To escape this, he draws bizarre creatures that he refers to as genies on his sketch pad. Sadly it doesn’t take long for the bullies to target that and shred it to bits. After being forced up to the lighthouse in town, Ash finds a large paintbrush that allows him to bring his creations to life. Using the paintbrush, you make your first genie – and your first friend.
From the lighthouse, you can see just how bad the darkness in town has gotten. You set out with a goal to restore color to the city and to find your missing pages. Ordinary paint can’t defeat the darkness though; you need Super Paint. Super Paint comes from genies, and they will restore your super meter if you draw what they want. It is quick, and the genie’s interactions can be fun to watch as well. You do have to worry about the bullies, but they can’t climb and are easily avoided. Overall the game will run you around five to six hours.
These genies that you summon can be customized as you make them. You can give them horns, tails, mustaches, and plenty of other things. They also come in three colors: red, blue, and yellow. Red will burn tarps for you to expose new passages for you to explore. Blue will blow boxes around to help you jump over the water and other obstacles. Finally, yellow is lightning, and will activate power boxes for you and open doors. You do not pick their color; their spawn point determines their color. Note that I never ran into a section where I didn’t have the genie I needed.
Concrete Genie isn’t challenging by any stretch of the imagination. You will occasionally run into puzzles that stump you for a few moments, but there is nothing that is overly frustrating. The gameplay loop is pretty consistent until the last third of the game. You enter a zone, paint some lights, get super paint from the genies to clear darkness, do some platforming, do a puzzle, and wrap it up with a masterpiece. Due to how short the game was, I didn’t get burnt out on this; I kept wanting to see the new pictures and genies. The game’s progression did enough to keep me going from area to area.
I should probably mention that the drawing is fairly easy. You don’t have to even be remotely good at drawing to do well here. You sort of guide where the picture will go, and the game makes the picture. Sure, you might put a tree at a weird angle or draw a floating stalactite, but it doesn’t break the game. Once you get a feel for how the drawing works, you can make things look as goofy or enjoyable as you want. You cannot free draw though. The game has a set amount of images that you can use.
Unlocking more of these images is done by collecting your art book pages. By gathering the art pages, you get new genies, new art, and new body parts for your genies. Some of the pages float around, and you have to chase them around to catch them. Others require you to find them in a newspaper rack or a TV. If you plan on finding them all, you can expect to add another hour or so of playtime. There are also optional genie draw points that award you with backpack badges if you have the right art. They are just cosmetic pieces, but are fun nonetheless.
While you are going through this town of Denska, you do start to feel for Ash. Not only does he have to deal with the bullies calling him names and throwing rocks at him; he also has to deal with these malcontents messing up his art. While you are restoring the light to the city, you will come across graffiti of Ash’s face with words like “loser” and “ugly” next to it. You might be able to ignore it until Ash says something like “oh” with a defeatist tone. The game does an excellent job of having you root for Ash.
While the first two-thirds of the game is pretty tame and low-key, the last third brings in combat to the equation. It isn’t a complicated or deep combat system, but it did help up the break up the repetitiveness of the earlier sections. On top of that, you get to paint skate, which makes you move at a quicker pace. One of my more significant complaints with the game is how long it takes to get to this part. The combat might be average, but the paint skating is incredible for getting around.
Tech-wise there were a few frame drops, and I played on a PlayStation 4 Pro. These drops weren’t enough to mess with the gameplay, but they were noticeable a couple of times. I didn’t run into any crashes or bugs during my playthrough. There is a VR mode, which isn’t the campaign mode. It is separate, but I don’t have VR, so I can’t speak to it.
Concrete Genie can be summed up in just one word: charming. It may not be game of the year material, but it does provide an experience that players will look back at fondly.
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