"A Heart-Warming Journey - Paint magical creations and playful genies with Ash's enchanted paintbush as you rescue the town of Denska from darkness."
Every once in a while, you're introduced to a new game/adventure that is a breath of fresh air, a unique take on gaming, and an original idea. It's not often that it happens, but when it does, it's an amazing feeling that should never be passed up. Concrete Genie is exactly that.
The game immediately throws you into a mini tutorial of using your paintbrush, whether it's with the motion sensor dualshock 4, or with the analog stick instead. Followed by cutscenes introducing you to the cast of this game, and how your main character, Ash, gets caught up in this whole fiasco. It's quiet, the atmosphere is dark and depressing, and the game sets off a very vibe to start you off with. Shortly into the game, you'll be tasked with collecting some random pages from your scrap book. Soon followed by you finally being introduced to the main gameplay element/focus of this game, the paintbrush.
This is when the game immediately takes a step into a new direction for games, and introduces you to some of the most fun mechanics I've experienced in a while. There's no action, no major puzzle solving, just a kid with a paintbrush, fulfilling the wish of your first Genie you meet, by lighting up light-bulbs with the paintbrush. Followed by creating your very own/first environment piece, and Genie. The feelings this gave off were phenomenal. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but to be making up art pieces with very limited choices felt so good, I immediately wanted to unlock more options, paint more things, go crazy with it. The previously dark atmosphere is lit up with colours and static objects that breathe life into the room/area.
Playing through the first half of the game and just painting up new Genies, fulfilling their wishes of objects, collecting pages to have more choices for Genie and art pieces, lighting up light-bulbs that breathe literal life into the area, to eventually doing masterpieces for each area. The entire feeling and vibe this gives off to not only the atmosphere of the game, but the player, is great. It's just a peaceful journey, which is accompanied by hiding from bullies, but that's soon forgotten about with more art. Whether you decide to only paint where needed/where the Genies want, or paint wherever you choose, it's a great feeling. Everything suddenly feels so live, and it stays forever too, so you can run around and just see where you've previously been and tagged. These painting requests by the Genies will add even more life/fun to the game, too. They'll ask for specific things in specific areas in forms of collectibles, which then trigger little events with them. Giving a Genie flowers to fool around with, giving multiple genies objects to play on. For them to not only interact with the player, but also among themselves, creating their own personality/character that's just fun to look at and watch. You can edit these Genies features to improve them/change them, but they'll always be present and running around these areas, giving you even more incentive to make them how you want, creating even more attachment to you.
This is only the first half of the game, the second half is where the game skyrocketed in enjoyment for me. I spent the first half just painting, exploring, sightseeing, hunting collectibles and just making the areas as bright and lively as possible, with no interruptions besides minor puzzle-solving moments, in which Genies were playful like children and added fun to it anyway. The second half, on the other hand, immediately turned into this action-like game. Everything goes haywire and messes up, forcing Ash to learn new abilities, not in the form of painting, but in the form of combat. I wasn't sure what I expected, but it was certainly not this. To go from painting, exploring and no fighting, to fast paced combat with paint-skating, dodging attacks from the enemies and putting as much hurt on them as I can to get down their HP, it was an AMAZING change of pace. There's nothing wrong with a peaceful game with no action, but to go from peaceful, to hectic with such an easy change, without any hiccups or any problems is hard to do, and this game does it perfectly. The combat isn't too wide, it's skating around, and using 3 different elements to fight different genies in different ways, but essentially all the same play-style, but this is enough to give me a ton of fun and enjoyment. I noticed certain ramps and placements of objects now have a use for me to skate off of, making the chase-sequences so much more fun and engaging, as I had previously wandered what their point was, if they were just there for scenery as the bullies have bikes.
The balance of gameplay and the way it handles is amazing. From just simply roaming, platforming rooftops and other areas, painting pictures on walls, having genies help you out in puzzle, to combat with skating around and battling enemies with certain elements, cutting them off with jumps and shortcuts, it's all done very well. There was never a point where I had issues with the controls, or I had any sort of bug, or anything that hindered my play, everything was as perfect as the story. The story isn't too deep, or out there, it's a matter of negative emotions bringing out darkness, and you're the boy that has the power to bring light and happiness, despite how you're treated by others, or how the world may be, you'll always see the better in things. It's simple, sweet, and it's perfect.
The finale of this game is as magical and wondrous as the intro. You start the game with a dark, bleak environment, to end it it with this bright, magical, lively town is the greatest of feelings. Being able to go back and look at everything you've painted all throughout the game, everything you've created, is an amazing feeling. This game is a great journey, whether it's your style of game or not. It's masterfully done, and it's full of great energy and great times, from start to finish. A cheaper, different game in a market full of expensive, high budget AAA games, it's ABSOLUTELY worth a try, a play, to experience and potentially love. The devs behind it clearly put in their time and effort and deserve as much back. Not to forget the AMAZING soundtrack, at points quiet and barely there, but loud and prominent in others to add to the epic feeling you're meant to be getting.
Try it, play it, love it. If it's not your game, then at least you tried. It's cheaper than most games releasing nowadays and worth the money.