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E3 2018 Hands-On Preview: Concrete Genie Brings Art to Life

One of the more creative PS4 exclusives coming later this year is Concrete Genie, a story about a young bullied boy. Ash can use a magic paintbrush to bring art to life, in order to restore his town from the darkness that has overwhelmed it. It’s a game that’s looked fascinating in demos, but I’ve been eagerly waiting to get my hands on it. At E3 this year, I finally had the opportunity to play it for myself, creating beautiful living art and avoiding the wrath of the town’s bullies.

Ash can paint on almost any building surface, and the interface is extremely easy to navigate. I was able to switch between a number of different environmental objects, such as trees, hills, flowers, and stars. Don’t worry, if you don’t have a creative hand, Concrete Genie’s art is quite dynamic. No matter how you paint, the picture ends up looking quite stunning. It’s fun to simply toy around with the different effects. My paintings brought the town back to life from its once grey and drab state.

Concrete Genie Preview 1

The goal of the game is to light up all of the districts, or at least that’s what this demo had me doing. As I ventured farther into the town, things got a little more challenging. Eventually I wasn’t only painting landscapes. I was bringing monsters called genies to life with my brush. They would then wander across the wall, occasionally asking me to paint specific things, like a certain flower or tree. Genies are used to solve various puzzles, and being that this seemed like a very early portion of the game, I’m sure that the puzzles will get a bit more complex.

Sometimes I didn’t have the ability to paint what the genie wanted, so I had to run around the town looking for floating pages. These pages gave me additional assets to paint, crucial for solving some of the puzzles. Caution was advised while trying to find the pages though. Bullies wander the streets and will actively try to steal Ash’s brush. Clambering up to the roofs of buildings helps to avoid them, and occasionally walls can be painted on from this safe vantage point. As easy as the bullies were to avoid in this demo, they are definitely a threat to be aware of, and again, may become more of a danger later in the game.

Genies can be custom painted by the player, so some I made ended up looking short and stubbly with all sorts of horns and things, while another one I made looked like a furry version of Trogdor. No matter how I paint my genie, the game will animate it, and it feels magical to see my creation brought to life so naturally. Sometimes the genies would hit a barrier of darkness on a wall that couldn’t be passed. At this point, Ash used the “super paint” ability to wash away the darkness and bring back the light, allowing the Genie to move forward.

I wasn’t able to fully complete the demo before I had to run off to my next appointment, but the deeper into the town I got, the more complex some of the puzzles and paintings became. Concrete Genie has a very unique style and mechanic to play with, I just hope that the brush doesn’t run out of paint before the end of the journey. The game has a beautiful style, from the 3D look of Ash as he runs around the town, to the living two dimensional landscapes and monsters you can paint on the walls of the town.

Games like this one present unique ideas of their own and find themselves beyond comparison. There is something nothing else like this game out there. If you’re looking for a sense of magic and wonder in your games, Concrete Genie captures imagination in a bottle and digitizes it. You can let the genie out when it releases later this year.

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