During PlayStation’s E3 press briefing in 2014, Sony brought on a couple of developers on stage to debut an entirely new first party property unlike any thing else in their line up. Pixel Opus, an unknown and freshman addition to the 1st Party family were showing off Entwined. A serene, relaxing, almost indie like dream escape of a game designed to play up the flourishes of the artistic side in gaming.
5 years have since passed, and Pixel Opus is taking a stab at their sophomore effort. Enter Concrete Genie. Quite possibly the most unique, charming, beautiful, and approachable game in the PlayStation first party lineup. So let’s get to it – here’s the Remote Play review for Concrete Genie – a truly magical stroke of paint.
You play as Ash; a young talented artist who has no true friends. The game starts with Ash drawing Denska, a small town that’s covered by darkness. Moments later, a group of young kids bully Ash and tear his Art book. The bullies then dump Ash in a tram as they send him to the rumoured haunted lighthouse. As he arrives, he sees the pages from his book flouting like it had a life of its own. Once he enters the lighthouse, he finds a drawn picture of his favourite genie Luna. The genie then magically comes to life. Ash makes his first true friend and from that moment, your adventure begins.
The story sends a powerful message that can relate to those who’ve been bullied. The game sends you on an emotional journey to overcome the bullying and light up Denska.
The game plays like a puzzler/Adventure with some platforming. Your mission is to brighten up lights in Denska with the magic brush you receive from Luna. During your journey, you’ll be recovering the pages you lost from your book. As you paint your way and brighten up Denska, you will create genies who serve as your friends and assist you on your journey. These genies come in three different forms – fire, electric and wind – and each can assist you whenever you need help in certain areas. The controls are easy to get use to. During paint mode, You’ll be using the Dualshock 4’s motion sensor to paint the walls of Denska. It felt a little weird at first, but I got use to in less than 10 minutes. If you’re having trouble using the motion controls then there’s an option to use the analog sticks. It’s a great option when it comes to accessibility. Moving from zone to zone, I had fun painting the areas. Once you progress further, the town becomes an open hub. You can then explore and discover secret areas.
You can also interact with your genies by shooting a hoop, watching TV, playing peek a boo or just feeding them apples. These are treasured moments that will bring out the inner child in you.
Graphically this game is both a technical and artistic achievement. Particle effects in pastels of colors litter up the screen. Everything is illuminated in a sense where the atmosphere is cranked up to 11. Genies look detailed, faces and animation quality is exquisite, and most importantly – it’s just downright theatrics. The art style would give you vibes from a Tim Burton movie with its atmospheric look. There is one downside though. Concrete Genie does not support HDR at launch but will at a later date. One of my favourite features in Concrete Genie was Photo Mode. Although it’s been introduced in many PlayStation Exclusives, having this feature really makes you appreciate the craft.
The soundtrack really stood out in concrete Genie with it’s lush sounds. The flute really brought positive vibes. It’ll make you feel relaxed. You’ll hear sounds of other instruments when you stroke your brush painting the stars or anything else from your sketchbook.
In a gaming climate where headshots, zombies, and “kill everything in sight” – are norms; Concrete Genie chooses to take the road less taken. A virtual proof that optimism, imagination, and good will can be the core component of a game. Translating positivity into pixels is a daunting task, but Pixel Opus have managed to create something truly remarkable.
Developer: Pixel Opus / Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release date: 08/10/2019
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 4 Pro