Concrete Genie is a simple game filled with charm that tackles themes of pollution, bullying, and redemption.
Created by PlayStation’s first-party studio and California-based game developer, Pixelopus, the exploration 3D platforming game features a giant paintbrush, puzzles, and creativity through drawing.
Concrete Genie‘s plot focuses on a troubled teen named Ash who escapes his problems by drawing in his sketchbook and exploring Denska, his old hometown.
A good part of the game includes exploring the different city districts of Denska and getting rid of obstacles with the paintbrush. As Ash, you can paint with your handy paintbrush on any wall throughout the city districts. Even though the game features artistic creations, players don’t need to have talent to create art in Concrete Genie.
Denska is a fishing port and a shell of its former self. Many years before the story takes place, an oil spill polluted the water. That event created negativity that led to the town becoming a ghost town because the population abandoned it.
With Denska abandoned, the port town still draws Ash to it even though his parents tell him not to go near the abandoned fishing port. He’s not alone though. A group of local bullies terrorizes Ash and his creativity any chance they get.
Early in the game the bullies rip out all the pages in Ash’s sketchbook. The pages are full of characters he’s drawn over the years, which he calls genies.
Ash finds himself at the town’s lighthouse where one of his newly drawn genies from his sketchbook, Luna, comes to life and leads him to a giant paintbrush with the power of living paint.
The paintbrush can erase the pollution, portrayed in the game as darkness, that afflicts Denska. With the paintbrush in hand, Ash has the power to bring light back to his hometown.
Ash can also bring his genies to life with his new power. There are three types of genies with different types of abilities, which include burning obstacles, turning on old electronic devices and blowing heavy objects away for Ash.
Instead of having the freedom to paint what you want, Pixelopus opted to create designs from Ash’s sketchbook. These creations act more like stickers than real drawings; the range of drawings includes flowers, thunderclouds, auroras, and so much more. Finding any of Ash’s lost pages adds more drawing possibilities.
Concrete Genie isn’t really about creating art for long periods but drawing something quickly while moving to the next goal.
Concrete Genie is a simple story about courage, forgiveness, and bonds. The game highlights Ash’s relationship with his genies as well as a ton of character development for the bullies.
While the bullies start off as generic stereotypes, near the end of the game they evolve into redeemable characters.
While Concrete Genie is a compelling game, it is a little too simple at times. The combat feels rushed or thought up late in the game development cycle but drawing on Denska’s walls with beautiful artwork is satisfying, rewarding and gratifying.
Concrete Genie is a unique game that anyone who owns a PS4 should think about picking up at some point. The story and gameplay mechanics Pixelopus has created in this game need to be experienced.
It’s by no means a perfect game but tells a delightful story about self-acceptance that isn’t too short or long.