Along with technological developments and times, video games that were once used as a medium for fun are now growing into interactive and creative media that have a variety of visions and missions. Although the point is still presenting a pleasant and interesting experience, many developers come to offer something special. Some focus on the side of the story, some focus on the moral message you want to pursue, and some are even designed to make you move more actively in the real world. For Concrete Genie from PixelOpus and Sony Interactive Entertainment, he grew into an attempt to understand one of the classic problems that was never resolved – bullying.
Welcome to Denska, a city of despair that used to be so lively and colorful. But a variety of economic and social problems slowly but surely, making it a city that is now just, filled with the shadows of his happy past. In it, lives a child who likes to paint and also becomes the main character in the story Concrete Genie – Ash.
Continuing to strengthen his artwork book with pictures of the creatures he created from his imagination, Ash’s day was not so good on that day. He met a group of delinquents who for no apparent reason, ruined his favorite book and threw it away. Ash ended up stranded on a lighthouse to find the pages of his book that magically, now looks like life. As can be predicted, this is where the point of Ash’s life changed. One monster named Luna now lives and gives it a giant brush as a “weapon”.
With this giant brush, Ash is no longer just able to adventure to find the pages of his art books that are still scattered, but also restore Denska’s life to return to the past. The key lies from the roots of darkness that seemed to shackle this city, which indeed can only be destroyed and cleaned using Ash’s brush. The initial mission was simple, by “returning the lights” to lights around the city that were extinguished by using his magical paintings. But it was not easy, Ash also continued to be chased by a group of naughty teenagers who seemed unhappy with his presence.
Bright Color in the Darkness
When you see it for the first time, Concrete Genie does offer a unique visual presentation approach. When you play it interactively, running, jumping, and doing a variety of activities required, it does look like a third person game in general.
Comes with super smooth animation, complete with maps to show where the next objective is, it does appear to be present with the quality of third person games with a fairly wide world that should be. However, this approach is different when you enter the cut-scene that is available to strengthen the side of the story. Most of the animation here actually suggests a more noticeable stop-motion style, where broken motion emerges even in the facial expressions of characters. Character details are also built with a strong clay-motion impression, which seems familiar to those of you who have enjoyed films with a similar approach. Uniquely? Only characters get this approach, given the world of Concrete Genie is built with a serious three-dimensional model.
As for the audio side, Concrete Genie presents an appropriate and appropriate approach. The music he offers must be recognized as not memorable, with content and genre that will not be enough to make you miss and listen to it separately in your Spotify application for example. But at least this was sufficiently relieved by the sound effects of the Genie – magical creatures born from Ash’s brush that sounded cute and full of personality. Moreover, some of your images can also bring up live animation effects that are also supported by certain sound effects.
One interesting detail that also made us fall in love with the Concrete Genie presentation came from the reflection of the world he offered. Although not necessarily as crazy as ray-tracing technology on a PC which is now a highlight of the latest technology, Concrete Genie offers a similar sensation, especially in places with standing water. Seeing the pictures you make on the walls of a building, including Genie who keeps moving though, is reflected in a nearby puddle producing a pampering experience for your eyes. Unfortunately, there is no weather effect in Concrete Genie. You will not find the condition of a city that is wet and full of puddles, which are suddenly filled with reflected images that you have scattered in various corners.
Of course, Concrete Genie won’t be that simple. There are so many parts of the wall that have been mastered by the roots of darkness, that it is no longer possible to be colored and drawn just like that. For situations like this, Ash needs to access the ability to draw at a higher level called Super Paint. Access to this ability will open once the bar with a brush on the right side of the screen is full. Only active for a limited time, you will be able to destroy the roots of darkness with this ability. The good news? The Power Bar will be filled along with your actions, from turning on the light bulbs we talked about earlier to interacting with the Genies you are making.
Luckily, Ash also had the ability to ask these Genies to follow where he went by using his brush. By using this one button, Genie is within reach, as long as it meets the requirements we wrote earlier, will immediately follow where you are going. This function will be very useful when you, for example, want to ask them to gather where puzzle locations need to be solved. Cool again? The map we mentioned earlier will also show the location of these Genies and their current status. With a number of different emoticons, you can immediately find out whether they are staying, running after you, or are in a panic because of the way they were supposed to go for whatever reason, they cannot pass. For this last matter, of course you have to investigate and find a solution.
The puzzle in Concrete Genie itself is not difficult. By just doing a little observation, especially with the hints button that sometimes appears if you keep quiet, you will easily stroll. But for other extra busyness, following the side of the story, you can also hunt for the pages of Ash’s torn and scattered books in Denska. These pages can provide you with new picture patterns that you can paint and combine, or even new Genie shapes and limbs that you can creatively create. Paper containing drawing patterns can usually be found near the puzzle location, while for the body parts and the basic shape of Genie itself, it takes a lot of hard work to find.
Apart from the unique gameplay of Concrete Genie, it must be admitted that what PixelOpus has to offer will not be suitable for all types of gamers, especially those who have expectations that it will end up as a game with a thicker action taste. If you don’t enjoy the process of drawing the corners of the city of Denska with the variety of patterns you have and end up just drawing the origin to light a light bulb related to the progress of the story, then Concrete Genie will feel like an unappealing bland game. Arranging the execution from the beginning becomes something important to enter the game with the duration of the gameplay, and not too long.
Let’s talk about bullying first. One of the biggest questions that may arise in your mind: what makes it different from “just kidding”? There are two indicators that can be used to categorize whether an action is called bullying or not. First, the reaction of the target joke itself. If you are joking, the subject you are making is laughing and feeling comfortable with it, then “joking” here still falls in the category of mere jesting. But if the opposite situation occurs, where your “joke” actually makes the target of your joke sad and uncomfortable, then the sentence you are making is no longer a joke. A “joke” requires two parties – those who throw jokes and those who are the subject of jokes consciously accept and enjoy the joke.
Second? Specific target. If your target is joking you and your group are always aiming and attacking one person, repeatedly and repeatedly, then you start to have to check that whether the action you are doing is indeed already entered into the category of bullying or not. Because it should, if everything is done in the name of having fun or inviting laughter, jokes should not end with specific targets that are all. Jokes, whatever faults, should be shared equally among everyone in the group, all of whom get the same “attack” portion. If you and your group are just “joking” with just one person? Maybe it’s not just a joke anymore.
Even with this knowledge, Concrete Genie still managed to slap one of our mindsets that was still wrong about bullying. That the victim of bullying, for one reason or another, exhibits a set of personalities or behaviors that might trigger it to be targeted. So when Concrete Genie surfaced in the form of trailers and screenshots with the keyword bullying as the main theme, we thought that there was something about Ash that made him end up being bullied. That he must have a certain past, did something specific, or just got along with the wrong group. When tasting this game, we just realized, that this is a toxic mindset.
Because the deeper you dive, the more you understand and understand that Ash has no problem at all. He is a normal child who grew up in a happy and harmonious family, who happens to love to draw. He has no conflicts with other people, he acts like a child his age, he lives his life with mediocrity. Like bullying in the real world and the combination of our mindset that is wrong, Ash represents victims of bullying that often come from children or adolescents who are trying to live their lives as well as they like, exploring hobbies and identity. That unfortunately, for reasons that are not clear, a group of bullies made him a target which then changed his normal life into “hell”. Hell that can leave scars of trauma until he is an adult.
But Concrete Genie itself is not exactly perfect. One of the biggest weaknesses in our eyes is the structure of the mission and the gameplay he was carrying. With the progress of the story that depends on how many lightbulbs you light, which can be triggered by randomly drawing the nearest walls, there is no extra motivation for concocting an artwork as beautiful as you can. Even though there is the potential to mix structures that encourage you to produce more beautiful artwork by combining more patterns, structured or not. This will make Concrete Genie feel like a game with better drawing mechanics. The absence of memorable and inspiring music for this heavy theme also provokes an extra question mark.
But despite these weaknesses, Concrete Genie is still a unique and interesting game at the same time. It is not designed for all types of gamers, especially those who come and expect a thicker action game. But for those of you who want something new and different, a game for families that are present without explicit violence, or just better understanding the bullying that might happen to you or your relatives, either as perpetrators or victims, Concrete Genie appears as the right media .
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