Concrete Genie review for PS4

Platform: PS4
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: PixelOpus
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

I have a bit of a dilemma when it comes to Concrete Genie. See, the first 90% of it is outstanding. Not only is it one of the most gorgeous games I?ve ever played, it manages to build the game around that beauty. That?s an astonishing feat, and it made it easy to fall in love with the game.

My dilemma comes with that final 10%. I don?t want to spoil anything, but I will say that for that last stretch, Concrete Genie switches from being a game about art and finding beauty in unexpected spaces, to one that?s basically a big, long, kind of dull boss fight. Seeing as there?s no combat in the game up to that point — at least as far as I can recall (and it?s a pretty short game, so I think I would remember it) — it comes as an abrupt tonal shift, and one that doesn?t suit the game very well at all.

That said, while the boss fight means Concrete Genie ends on a bit of a down note, it?s not enough for me to disregard that first 90% that I loved. Because I really, really loved that 90%. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment I had exploring the abandoned fishing pier, searching for blank canvases on which I could create vibrant art. The platforming is top-notch, while the way the game incorporates drawing feels fluid and natural. Sure, it?s simply a matter of drawing pre-made designs, but the way the art almost literally jumped off the screen was a sight to behold.

It?s probably worth noting that Concrete Genie is fairly short. I beat it in two sittings of only a couple of hours each, and some of that was drawn out by the boss fight before I discovered I could lower the difficulty settings. At the same time, though, I think the brevity works to the game?s advantage. If it were a dozen or more hours of drawing the same designs over and over again, it?d start getting a little tiresome. Instead, you get a few hours to bask in one of the prettiest games of the generation, and it leaves before it wears out its welcome.

I?ll even add that my one issue with the game probably isn?t that major. Sure, the boss fight doesn?t fit in with the rest of the game, but it at least works as it?s supposed to. Throwing in new mechanics out of nowhere at the last second could?ve been a sign that the developers weren?t confident in how well they could implement them, but that?s not the case at all. They may be kind of out of character for Concrete Genie, but they still do what they?re supposed to do.

Besides, as I said, I?m not about to let an odd ending retroactively spoil a game that was otherwise a delight. In a couple of months, when I?m thinking about my favourite games of 2019, I?m pretty sure that whatever slight distaste I feel now will have faded, and I?ll be left with fond memories of a game that?s absolutely gorgeous.

Sony Interactive Entertainment provided us with a Concrete Genie PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A-