When Concrete Genie was first announced, the game seemed more like a game about putting graffiti on buildings than a platformer along the lines of the Uncharted mixed with an incredibly thought out story about bullying and forgiveness. When I saw the reveal of the game back in 2017, I knew it was a game I wanted to try. The painting concept along with the beauty of the game is what caught my attention and I really wanted to see what the story truly was about.
The story starts out in the bleak town of Denska. Denska is largely empty of citizens aside from a group of bullies and the protagonist Ash. Ash sticks predominantly to himself and has a notebook that he draws in. At the beginning of the game we see that a darkness has taken hold of the town. The story really kicks off when the bullies take Ash’s notebook and rip it up; spreading it across the town. I think this is where the lessons of the game start to take hold and kids who play the game will be able to identify with Ash. The journey of the game is to restore the notebook and destroy the darkness in the town. Along the way, Ash learns to believe in himself and to stand up for himself. The story is a great strength to this game.
From a game play perspective, Pixelopus nails it. It has the exploring and platforming side that fans of games like Uncharted and Sly Cooper have come to love. The painting side allows players to be super expressive in how they want to relight the lights in each section. When it comes to bringing the Genies to life, players are allowed to design them however they want. There are pages of the notebook scattered throughout each level and take some exploring to find them. These pages will provide players with a mix of new choices from new genie body designs to new weather effects and scenery.
Another area that Pixelopus nailed the game is with the visuals and lightning. As players start off, the game is bleak, and the world is not as vibrant. Once the players start bringing the lights back on and pushing out the darkness, the world begins to come back to life. Shading shifts from bleak to welcoming.
Overall, this game is a must play in my eyes. In some areas, it is a little easier for those veterans of platforming adventure games, however it does pose a challenge to the younger players. The story provides great lessons on believing in oneself and overcoming bullying. Creativity is strongly encouraged throughout the game and has limitless possibilities especially in Free Paint Mode. For those that are looking for the Platinum Trophy, this is a game that rewards trophies through game play and simply enjoying the creativity. I would give this game a solid 9 out of 10.