When you think of genies, you’re probably more likely to think of Robin Williams and Aladdin, not the sentient drawings that we see in Concrete Genie. It’s an interesting concept: you play as a young man, Ash, who lives near the outskirts of Denska, an abandoned town home only to roving groups of kids. While enjoying some alone time, drawing his genies and other creatures, bullies steal his notebook, and scatter the ripped pages to the winds of the city.
In his quest to find them, Ash finds his way back into Denska, where one drawing in particular comes to life – Luna. The genie becomes your companion, teaching you how to use the magical paintbrush to not only bring other of Ash’s creations to life, but to lead them around Denska, painting away the darkness and bringing light back to the city.
As Ash continues to find pages of his notebook scattered around the city, your options as the player opens up more as well. You can paint different patterns, and even different kinds of genies as well. Keep in mind that these creatures can only travel on the surfaces on which you paint them, and Concrete Genie uses the environment to throw several puzzles your way. The genies also have unique abilities, including being able to light things on fire, so use them to your advantage whenever you can.
In my view, the most interesting thing that Concrete Genie offers are the controls – it’s the first game that uses the PlayStation 4’s Dual Shock controls in such an integral way. The controller is used to move the paintbrush itself up and down, and while it can get wonky at times, it offers an easy way to reset the cursor at any time (depending on how you’re sitting on your couch, perhaps, it might get tricky, as I learned). The good thing is, you don’t have to be good, either – even if you’re just splashing paint on walls, the paintings still get done, and truthfully, it still looks pretty decent most of the time as well.
The whimsical, adventurous spirit of Concrete Genie is a fun ride for the five hours or so it takes to beat – it’s not a huge investment and yet still manages to instill some heart into Ash and the mournful city of Denska. It admittedly can be somewhat clunky towards the end, but the charm that is wholly on display at all times makes it worth it.
Concrete Genie is currently available on PlayStation 4. PixelOpus provided a copy of the game for coverage purposes.
You can catch Sho on Twitter at @SNSAlli if you have any questions about Concrete Genie. Or, you know, you love movies, video games, or anything else.