Republished on Wednesday 27th January, 2021: We’re bringing this evaluation again from the archives following the announcement of February 2021’s PS Plus lineup. The unique textual content follows.
Of all Sony’s in-house builders, Pixelopus maybe has probably the most to show. Its debut recreation, Entwined, did not set the world alight, and so its follow-up wanted to up the ante. It is truthful to say the younger crew has performed simply that with Concrete Genie, a much more formidable title that aligns itself extra with the common output of Worldwide Studios. That is to not say that is your typical PlayStation Four unique — removed from it.
Having clearly been impressed by the cinematic storytelling of Sony’s main gamers, the sport begins by introducing you to Ash, a younger boy with a creative aptitude. As he is minding his personal enterprise, some bullies arrive, steal his sketchbook, and tear out all of the pages earlier than sending him as much as the supposedly haunted lighthouse. Equally as essential as Ash is the city of Denska, deserted and overrun by delinquents after an accident causes a mysterious darkish rot to take maintain. After Ash receives a magical paintbrush, an honest tutorial will get you familiarised with the fundamentals, and then you definitely’re tasked with reviving the city by portray dwelling murals on its decrepit partitions.
It is essential we point out the tutorial, as a result of Concrete Genie’s controls are considerably unorthodox. Ash controls as you’d count on – he even scales buildings like a low lease Nathan Drake – however whenever you’re in paint mode, the DualShock 4’s gyro sensor takes priority. The excellent news is that portray is splendidly tactile and intuitive. After highlighting your chosen design, you merely maintain R2 and transfer the cursor as if portray a brushstroke. Movement controls do not sit properly with everybody, and you’ll swap them out for the precise stick when you desire, however they do make the sport very accessible, and it feels great to have your actions flip into glowing, animated footage.
You possibly can’t precisely freestyle, nevertheless. Portray is restricted to the pages you have unlocked or discovered throughout the miniature open world, every one providing you with both new panorama objects, genie decorations, or new genies to create. Regardless of not with the ability to paint simply something, you’ve gotten loads of freedom throughout the boundaries. What’s extra, it is virtually not possible to make one thing that does not look great — even when you’ve not a inventive bone in your physique. The fruits of your labour are virtually all the time a sight to behold — it is satisfying, and certain to deliver a smile to your face.
The titular genies are the celebrities of the present. Dotted all through every space of the map are alternatives to color these monsters that inhabit your murals, and once more, it is largely as much as you what they seem like. Nevertheless you current them, these creatures are a lot wanted companions in an in any other case fairly solitary journey. They will work together with you and one another in a number of methods, however most significantly, they will enable you to out with some environmental puzzles. This is not a recreation about problem, so do not count on to be stumped by these, however the occasional impediment in your path is a pleasant change of tempo, even when the act of portray is constantly pleasing.
What’s uncommon is how fight is launched to Concrete Genie. We do not wish to spoil something, however fight makes an abrupt and short-lived look on the finish of the eight-hour story. After a relaxed, gently paced jaunt as you brighten up Denska, you will very out of the blue be taught to battle and to color surf, the latter of which lets you transfer rather more shortly. It is a jarring change, and one you will must develop accustomed to pretty shortly. The ultimate hour or so is spent largely battling paint monsters, however holding it off like this feels as if the studio lacked confidence on this facet of the sport. It is stored in context by the story, after all, however it’s a slipshod closing step.
Regardless of its uncommon arrival, fight is a enjoyable addition. Like his genies, Ash’s assaults come within the type of hearth, electrical, or wind, and you may must match your offence to the corresponding shields. You should utilize your newfound paint browsing to remain cell, and a beneficiant dodge will get you out of hurt’s approach. It is quick and frantic stuff that, though hardly something particular, is fairly enjoyable whereas it lasts. Fairly why it is all left till proper close to the tip is past us; if something, peppering the story with small fight situations would’ve helped to maintain issues ticking alongside.
The artwork model, in the meantime, is beautiful, and we love the just about stop-motion high quality to the characters. Denska can initially really feel slightly chilly, however that is by design — it is actually a canvas upon which you’ll embellish to your coronary heart’s content material. The Free Portray mode means that you can go to the varied areas of the map and begin over with no distractions, which is a pleasant distraction. For those who occur to have PlayStation VR, you can even dip right into a supplementary mode that acts as a digital extension to the principle occasion. You will want a pair of Transfer controllers, however it’s equally whimsical, if slightly on the slim aspect.
The VR mode operates at a easy body charge, as is the requirement, however sadly the principle recreation falters on this regard. It is not a relentless hassle, however uncharacteristically for a primary celebration title, efficiency does take a success each every so often. Animations can really feel slightly clunky, too, however once more, this should not get in the best way all that a lot. The same old polish attributed to Sony’s video games simply is not fairly there. Fortunately, this can be a title that virtually will get away with missteps like these due to its sheer allure. It is not good, however that is completely a step in the precise route for Pixelopus.
Concrete Genie is a heat, joyful expertise that embraces creativity in a novel approach. Portray your approach by means of Denska is effortlessly enjoyable, and the genies that assist Ash by means of his journey are pleasant. Whereas this predominant thrust of the sport is properly realised, fight looks like an afterthought, because it’s stashed away proper on the finish. This and a few smaller points maintain the sport again from greatness, however taken as an entire, that is positively price enjoying — and fairly as an image, too.