Let’s be honest: a magical paintbrush and some wonderfully vibrant genies sounds like the recipe for a charming adventure, right?
The PlayStation 4 has a rich selection of exclusives, but Concrete Genie has always stood out as something special. Sure, it may not be from one of Sony’s more prolific first-party studios and it doesn’t have a big-name director behind it, but the trailers showed off an enchanting world and colourful gameplay that did something different.
Players areput in the shoes of Ash, an adventurous young boy who dreams creatively but finds himself tormented by the local bullies. Things take a turn when he uncovers a magical paintbrush though, which allows him to use his creative side to bring the streets of his hometown of Danska to life by lacing them with his own colourful creations.
The main gameplay experience sees you using this paintbrush to liven up the dreary streets, with Ash utilising his own creations to bring colour and joy to the once sullen town. It was a little disappointing that you simply use pre-made designs to cover the walls, but the way that you can either use motion controls or the right-stick to actually paint feels intuitive.
Of course, you can paint with any old paintbrush, and Ash is equipped with a magical one. What makes it magic? The genies. You’ll have opportunities to paint these special genies as you work through the game with each offering unique abilities that are essential to get through some of the platforming and puzzling sections – admittedly, there’s nothing particularly tough to face and it’s always obvious when you’ll need their help, but they’re charming companions to have. Plus, the fact that you have a hand in creating them is neat and allows the player to splash a bit of their own personality into the experience.
The majority of your time in Concrete Genie is spent painting the world around you and scaling the environment, though there are some things to be wary of. Those aforementioned bullies never seem to be too far away – if they manage to catch you, they’re not shy in dumping Ash into a… well… dumpster. They’re not tough to evade though, so they shouldn’t cause too many problems.
Interestingly, there are some brief combat elements that come into Concrete Genie late into the game that allow you to use your paintbrush in some cleverly destructive ways. It breaks up the formula of what is otherwise a pretty peaceful game and it certainly changes up the vibe – I would have actually liked to have seen more of it across the entire game.
PlayStation VR owners will be glad to see there’s a VR mode to play through, with players able to show off their creativity in a fun (albeit brief) experience that utilises the vibrant painting gameplay of the main story. It’s a nice addition to Concrete Genie that actually feels a little bit more fun thanks to the use of the Move controllers, and it helps caps off what is yet another thoroughly enjoyable exclusive on the PlayStation 4.
Concrete Genie is charming, colourful and full of enjoyable gameplay mechanics that ensure there’s plenty of fun to be had throughout. Whilst it would’ve been nice to have had a bit more creative freedom as far as the painting is concerned, the neat genie companions and the late-game combat mechanics help ensure that Concrete Genie is another PlayStation 4 exclusive gamers won’t want to miss out on.
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s): PlayStation 4