Return the color to a decadent city and controlled by stalkers with bad intentions. The anti-bullying argument of the new Pixelopus study was worthy of being followed, although its playable proposal has not quite convinced me at all by a monotonous rhythm and an execution that could have aspired to more. We tell you in our analysis of Concrete Genie for PS4.
Despite being interesting, I would have liked to have to say better things about a video game that has as its theme something as problematic and worthy of reflection as is bullying. The plot of Concrete Genie is not bad, but not convincing at all; and his game mechanics promise on paper, although they stay halfway once executed. The work of the Californian Pixelopus (Sony in-house company) could have embroidered it, and you feel your desire to do it, but my best conclusion is that everything stays in a beautiful story of friendship, colorful and attractive ideas … that It’s not too bad either.
It all starts in the fishing town of Denska, trying to bring life back to a scene punished by pollution. You do it with a magic brush and the help of some geniuses who, little by little, become that small but pleasant refuge that somehow keeps you afloat with respect to the harassing children who persecute you.
There is some stealth, of trying to escape from those thugs while returning the color to the village, but also of combative action towards the final stretch of the adventure. Sometimes it is entertaining, but other times it seems like a hodgepodge of concepts without much meaning. He wants to be a world of open exploration, but his goals are monotonous. He wants to have some action, but his combat mechanics are simple and not very stimulating. He wants to be pictorial, and although sometimes visually striking, the task of coloring the environment is quite guided, and in the long run a boring tad.
Concrete Genie, city of geniuses
Narratively it is not a game that works badly, but it does not dazzle either. The issue of teenage bullying has been treated in every possible way and in a thousand ways. Maybe he expected Concrete Genie to do things differently, to get out on the tangent, but in the end, everything remains in the typical story of a young man who is helped by some fantastic beings (geniuses) who leave his artistic creativity. Not bad, and at the metaphor level it works, but don’t expect anything you haven’t seen. Everything is quite predictable, with some aftertaste to an animated film for the whole family.
However, the plot is not important. The most important thing in the game is to paint the streets of Denska, submerged in a disturbing darkness. The videogame promotion told us that we would use the power of imagination to transform the city, but the scope of the proposal is limited. The geniuses, nice beings that we rescue as we move through several areas, tell us what to paint and where to do it to move forward in the game.
Although it works, the dynamics are not stimulating in the long term, because in the end the game is based on following instructions, except on a couple of occasions when a more or less elaborate puzzle puts us in trouble. There is some moment of brilliance in the set, but then you realize that there is no aspect in which the game acquires brilliance. The exploration is corseted, the platform is not very precise and the fighting is simple.
Its combat mechanics are simple and not very stimulating.
And it is curious … because most of the journey is very supported in painting. Only towards the end appear some combative mechanics that I have not just explained why they have not been more distributed since they would have given some variety to the gameplay. A strange design decision that is complemented by the fact that freely painting the city serves nothing more than personal enjoyment. There is no point or reward system that encourages us to use the brush beyond where geniuses tell us.
Everything is quite predefined. Actually, we draw pre-designed elements of a catalog that we expand as we retrieve sheets from our drawing book (which the bully children destroyed at the beginning of the adventure). Here I have to say that the DualShock 4 gyros work perfectly, although creative freedom is limited to establishing the dimensions of what we are going to paint on the walls since everything here is also surprisingly guided.
Concrete Genie has a free mode, and even once the story is over you can continue your journey in the search for more collectibles. However, I have not felt like continuing. In fact, it has cost me to reach the end of a game that despite its 5-6 hours, I do not think it gave for much more as it is proposed. Maybe you can recreate with its photo mode, which is not bad at all, or with the VR experience in case, you have Sony virtual reality glasses.
The best of the game? Without a doubt, its visual effects. If something is worth coloring, it is all to see the wakes that our magic brush leaves. The FX parade is the most positive and elaborate facet of a visual section not particularly ambitious, but well-executed at an artistic level. They are curious, for example, the facial animations of the protagonists during the sequences, which by the way are completely Spanish – yes, also voices – thanks to a very careful location, as Sony has accustomed us.
It shines more for its audiovisual values than playable.
Music is the other highlight of Concrete Genie, something that makes us conclude that the game shines more for its audiovisual values than playable. The composer Sam Marshall ( Entwined ) permeates some melancholy, sadness, but also hope for some themes that accompany our progression in the title with quality. One that unfortunately is not up to par with questions of concept and materialization, but that could be interesting if you take into account the important aspects in which it has not just convinced.
Concrete Genie presents a striking proposal, based on impregnating a city in decline, with the theme of bullying as a backdrop. His intentions are excellent, but his execution is somewhat regular, with elements of exploration, painting, and fighting that never cease to take off in a guided, monotonous advance and with hardly any challenge. A short adventure but with a nice message in the PS4 catalog, which is especially notable for its genuine audiovisual section.
- The visual effects are delightful, the best of the game
- Good quality in the soundtrack, setting the adventure correctly
- The narrative approach, with a beautiful metaphor and the complaint of bullying
- Dynamic using a predefined and highly guided magic brush
- The combat mechanics are simple and crude
- Little playable variety, with hardly any challenge