Concrete Genie Preview: Shawn Layden said "We have to make this game" it’s perfect for PS4
“The whole team at PixelOpus is formed of super hardcore gamers, and they are very ‘well-read’, I guess you could say.
“We’re comforatable in acknowledging our influences, but also knowing that we need to use them as something new… something to build an interesting new experience on. Our hope was that by investing in the intuitive creativity of the painting mechanics that we’d make it feel like something new and unique.”
And it does. Concrete Genies is frankly unlike anything we’ve ever played before – the exploration and movements may feel like a PS2 3D-platformer (that’s not a bad thing!) but the painted genies that protagonist Ash has to create on the wall are ostensibly your creations: procedurally generated entities that behave differently depending on how you paint them.
“I don’t think we’d ever imagine we’d get to make a game about an artist in this way… especially at a huge company like PlayStation,” says Robillard.
“Everyone in the company was inspired by the theme of a bullied kid expressing himself via his art – a theme that is very relatable to kids and to adults. Bullying as a theme is not something that stops when you grow up – so it was a very rich vein that we could tap into.
“Making the creative mechanics as creative and intuitive as possible, then, became the most important thing – we want you to become attached to your artwork, we want you to be upset when the bullies are draining the colour out of it or ruining it. It’s your art as much as it is Ash’s – the main character’s. That’s the most powerful thing about games, right? They allow you to think of something from a totally new perspective.”
It seems like it was this perspective that captured the attention of PlayStation Worldwide’s Shawn Layden. It was this Okami-cum-Neil Gaiman aesthetic that made the Sony bigwigs sit up and listen.
It helps that the game has been designed with sharing in mind. Not only is the core action-adventure gameplay a family-friendly offering that supports the more mature PlayStation exclusives out there at the moment, it’s also a game that encourages you to share the genies you create to help you solve puzzles, that basks in the ability of letting you have your own creative agency when it comes to bringing Ash’s hometown on Denska back to life.
“One of Sony’s platform mantras in having the Share button front and center is ‘try and design gameplay that’s worth sharing’,” Robillard reveals.
“And that means it has to be very personalised to each player, and you have to give players the opportunity to make things unique – and we’re fortunate enough that with Concrete Genie, everyone’s game is going to be totally different!”
“Even our Photo Mode is going to have a bit of a twist – a time-lapse painting replay that will slowly fill in your in-game art, showing stage by stage layering how it was put together,” Robillard tells us, excitedly.
“And you can tweak and control that quite a lot, too. I’m very excited to see the clips and glimpses we see of that!”
After the likes of Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War and Uncharted 4 made such huge impacts on how we share games content with their robust Photo Modes, it’s no surprise to see a game like this revel in that idea – and push it even further.
You might be surprised to see us tout Concrete Genie – a budget £25 title! – as worthy of standing alongside the other PS4 behemoths, but it is.
From only a few hours of hands-on, we can see that Concrete Genie is an essential PS4 game – a creative experience that carries the torch of Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Jak & Daxter and LittleBigPlanet in such an authentic and loving way, you’d never know it was coming from a studio working on only its sophomore project.
Concrete Genie releases on PS4 on 9th October for £24.99.
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