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Topic: User Impressions/Reviews Thread

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themcnoisy

@Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy wow that's a great read, thanks for putting in the effort. zanki zero last beginning, never even knew it existed. But now I want to play it!

@Gremio108 @Th3solution So I have read the comments on Minecraft and its not just Lego, it's a kid version of sim city when I grew up.

Bear with me on this, the focus of sim city was to build - you are managing money to build new stuff, that new stuff gives you access to better stuff, you build outwards in your own vision, managing an ever expanding area. Then godzilla smashes the city.

It's pretty much the same except you swap out money for resources and godzilla for skeletons.

They also both have a chilled mode, you just create without the stress of random bad events.

Forum Best Game of All Time Awards

PS3 Megathread 2019: The Last of Us
Multiplat 2018: Horizon Zero Dawn
Nintendo 2017: Super Mario Bros 3
Playstation 2016: Uncharted 2
Multiplat 2015: Final Fantasy 7

PSN: mc_noisy

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

You're very welcome @themcnoisy

themcnoisy wrote:

Zanki Zero Last Beginning, never even knew it existed. But now I want to play it!

Seeing as it was the impressions from a demo and shoukd still be up there... You can!

I'm sure ShogunRok did a review for it earlier in the year. Or it might've been Jenny Jones whom does the more of lesser known AA titles/indies

-EDIT- It was Jenny and here's the link https://www.pushsquare.com/reviews/ps4/zanki_zero_last_beginning

Edited on by Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

"Words don't make changes. Wounds do." Agent Black - Iconoclasts

PSN: GoddessFoxy-E
PLEASE tell me who you are from PushSquare when adding me or I WON'T accept the request.

Ralizah

Honestly, I forget about Zanki Zero after the censorship controversy.

I might need to check out the demo.

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Gremio108

@themcnoisy I missed out on Sim City when I was younger. I still haven't played it to this day. Probably explains why Minecraft confuses me so much

Good job, Parappa. You can go on to the next stage now.

PSN: Hallodandy

DerMeister

@Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy There was a Crash review and I didn't know about it?!?

Great write up on the first game, and I agree with a lot of it. I've played it alot, 100%'d it a lot and when the remakes came I platinumed it and got the platinum relics (Which I'll never do again, you aren't missing anything). That's a lot for a game I consider 7/10 at it's very best. 2 and 3 are much better games, yet for some reason they don't get as much discussion as the original (or CTR for that matter ).

"We don't get to choose how we start in this life. Real 'greatness' is what you do with the hand you're dealt." -Victor Sullivan
"Building the future and keeping the past alive are one and the same thing." -Solid Snake

PSN: HeartBreakJake95

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

I didn't know there was anything censored/edited @Ralizah though thinking upon it I can probably guess what bit might've been altered Sachiko showing her X key also showed her undergarments originally I guess?

If there's anything else though I couldn't tell ya as the rest of the demo was pretty normal (As much as this particular game IS normal )


Ha ha Glad you enjoyed it @DerMeister!

Last time I played the trilogy (aka the first time at launch) I think I actually found the first to be my favourite of the bunch.

I think the second's altered physics bothered me more which was my favourite on ps1 (I didn't play the original version of the first much thanks to the save system annoying 16 year old me) and I was a little soured on it not feeling quite right.

I never actually played warped on ps1 though. Only a demo disc of Toad Village back in the day. So it was completely fresh more or less.

Be interesting to see what I think as I play the sequels again (Maybe the patches did something other then just adding hidden/trailer videos lol)

Edited on by Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

"Words don't make changes. Wounds do." Agent Black - Iconoclasts

PSN: GoddessFoxy-E
PLEASE tell me who you are from PushSquare when adding me or I WON'T accept the request.

Ralizah

@Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy A few CGs were altered to remove or lessen nudity. Also, according to the publisher:

All “Child” bedtime event cutscenes removed

Not entirely sure what that means, although the conjunction of the words child, bedtime, and censorship strike me as vaguely ominous.

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Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

oh. Oh. OOOOOOOOOH!

That sounds... bad out of context to say the least @Ralizah

In context of the game though They're clones and die within 14 days. Being reborn as kids via the extend machine only to repeat the process over and over. You find that out about ten/twenty minutes before the prologue ends and it's confirmed as the prologue ends so... It makes much more sense.

I can see why it might've been removed though too... plus it doesn't seem like it's cut too much content out at all (or seemingly important either)

It shouldn't ruin your enjoyment of it... Or be blindingly insulting over editing like a full body wedding dress

Edited on by Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

"Words don't make changes. Wounds do." Agent Black - Iconoclasts

PSN: GoddessFoxy-E
PLEASE tell me who you are from PushSquare when adding me or I WON'T accept the request.

Th3solution

I completed CONCRETE GENIE this weekend and although I’ve trickled out a few early and mid-game impressions, I feel inclined to leave a more detailed and thorough review of the whole experience.
Also, shout-out to @Arugula for his recently posted more succinct and infinitely more readable post-game impressions of this game. I mostly agree with his assessment of this very good, if not great, PlayStation exclusive. If you want the short version, I recommend his thoughts on the “What PS4 games are you currently playing” thread. For the rest of you who are stout of heart and have a spare 15 minutes, read on....

Extent of completion
First off, I should say that the game is quite easy and has a very nice obtainable platinum, but I’ve not platinum’d it yet. With just playing through the story and putting a small amount of extra effort to capture a few easy to do trophies along the way, I finished it with an 80% trophy completion. I completed the entire story and some of the postgame content, including the end game secret area and spent some time in the free paint mode. What I lack are some more hidden collectibles at the end and few specific scenes you have to paint for the genies called “Genie Moments.” I’m not sure if I will go back to put in the extra couple hours hunting all they stuff down. I probably won’t, not necessarily because I am sick of the game, but more because I have such a backlog and I’d rather move on to other things.

As for difficulty, I played the game on the default difficulty and I only failed a couple times - usually it occurred when I made an ill advised jump off a building and fell too far and once when I was too slow to accomplish a timed event and failed while I was scrambling through the art pages to find the right thing to draw. But 90% of the time it’s pretty hard to “lose” in this game if you’re at least an average gamer. In fact, I didn’t even know the game had selectable difficulty levels until a prompt came up toward the end game about it.

The Concept
What is most impressive about Concrete Genie is that it has a truly unique gaming concept. The intermix of art creation and a simple story, mingled with exploration, combat, and platforming in game is worthy of praise in and of itself. I’m always a fan of developers pushing the envelope with regard to game design. So for nothing other than trying something new and different, it’s a game worth one’s time.

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The Graphics, Art, and Animation
Much has been made of the game’s art design. I think most would agree that the visuals are quite stunning. The thing is, there are layers of what Pixel Opus is presenting here. What do I mean? Well, let me explain, as I feel like the graphics are a bit of a mixed bag:

  • The backdrops and set pieces are of high quality; the world feels realistic in its presentation with a slight “artsy” nature that doesn’t detract from the nice attention to detail in the buildings, dumpsters, roads, boardwalks, waterways, etc. of this abandoned harbor town.
  • Then when you paint and create genies (the little monster creatures Ash draws that come to life and serve as companions) and pictured landscapes on the desolate and abandoned buildings of Denska, the art work comes to life in a beautiful and vibrant way. It is so easy to paint scenes of wonder with the art tools provided. Sure, you’re basically picking from a subset of predetermined designs, but the way you mix and match them, position them, and alter the size and shape of them ... well, the possibilities are nearly endless. Even randomly putting up images with reckless abandon yields a mural worthy of a snapshot.
  • Then you have the graphical presentation of the characters, such as the protagonist Ash and the bullies that bother him. And here is where I have some issues. The character design choice for the human characters is oddly of an antiquated vibe that I can only describe as the next iteration of claymation. If you have seen the old stop-motion animation TV specials then you know what I mean. As realistic as the environments look, the characters and faces are very stylized in this strange retro look. The facial movements are stuttering and simplistic and appear almost doll-like. Ash’s hair for example looks very much like fake locks stolen from a Barbie and Ken collection. The whole thing is very off-putting and at odds with the nicely designed world and the gorgeous artwork you create with your paintbrush.

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I became accustomed to the character designs and animation over time and grew to appreciate them by the end, but I still think they needed some work. I’m not sure if Pixel Opus went with these character designs intentionally as an artistic decision, or if was a technological limit and they didn’t have the time or resources to make the characters look better or more real. At first I thought it was lazy developing since they look almost alpha design level, but the more I played the game, the more I think it may be just the way they wanted to present their ideas. I don’t know. I suspect it may have been a combination of the two — they didn’t have the resources to make photo realistic faces and motion, so rather than have an ugly rendition of the uncanny valley, they went further away to make the people look cutesy and stylized, which fits within the world I suppose. It’s a hard line to draw and I guess I can’t fault them for how it turned out, but it took me some time to warm up to the design choice of Ash and company.

The Characters, Voice Acting, and Plot
Speaking of characters, if we put aside how they look, how well are they realized and presented as people to get emotionally attached to? Well, that’s also a mixed bag. Ash is a sympathetic character, the victim of bullies who make fun of his artistic hobby. There are attempts also to get deep into the psyche of the bully characters as well and the game is clearly trying to make a worthwhile social statement here, despite the lack of depth obtained. The whole thing functions fine, but I don’t know if I really fell in love with Ash’s character the same way I did for, say, an Arthur Morgan or Aloy.

The voice acting is fair, but at times a little cringeworthy, honestly. Ash’s interactions with the genies seems storybook and definitely on the juvenile side of things. At times this makes for a feeling akin to watching a kids animated TV feature like Strawberry Shortcake or The Wiggles. For example when Ash tickles a genie with his brush in a playful way it’s intended to be cute I think, but it ends up feeling awkward as an adult playing this game.
For Ash’s VA, it can’t have been easy to pull off a good voice acting performance when you’re conversing with an imaginary friend who doesn’t talk back, and it shows here. The genies too are a strange mix of creepy in appearance and unintentionally disturbing in the gurgling and growling sounds they make. Again, they are supposed to be cute and endearing, but for me they can often come closer to the things of nightmares.

Untitled

The plot is fine. It does push a few agendas; subtly making a societal statement, but it’s not too heavy handed in its delivery. It’s mostly a quaint tale of a boy and his paintings overcoming conflict and I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers of what little plot there actually is.

The Gameplay, Control, and Functionality
So how does the game function as a ... well, as a game. That’s the point of the whole thing, right? If it’s not fun or engaging to play, then it doesn’t matter how pretty or how basic it looks.
The painting bits are spot on and excellently implemented. The platforming, jumping, climbing, and traversal... not so much. Ash handles and moves with a lack of accuracy I’ve not had to deal with since platforming on the PS2. His movement is a bit jerky and certainly inaccurate. It’s easy to overshoot a jump because he slides a little and the control is quite temperamental. Fortunately the “sticking and grabbing” part of jumping to a handhold is fairly generous. Also the game is not designed to be difficult, so if you miss a jump and end up in the drink, the game puts you right back where you started and Ash just says something like “Yuck! I hate getting wet.”
I will say that there is a shift in gameplay and movement possibilities in the last third of the game and I enjoyed his move set much more at the end. I don’t want to get too far into spoiler territory, but suffice it so say I wish the latter gameplay was a bigger part of the game than it ends up.

Among other shortcomings is the map. Bringing up the in game menu gives you access to a map with a few icons to guide you, but I found it unhelpful. In its attempt to be stylistic, it become fairly cryptic and borderline useless. It’s a cartoonishly rendered version of the streets and buildings and took me about halfway through the game to decipher in any meaningful way. It was easier to just wander around until you found your way or happened upon the collectible you were looking for.

>> And here I must say that Concrete Genie has one of my least favorite gameplay mechanics — the chasing a collectible that is triggered to flee when you get near it and moves around randomly trying to get away. I understand that it makes sense within the game because the collectibles are pages with design ideas for your art and I guess pages fly around in the wind like that, but I just hate this sort of chasing stuff in a game. First of all it takes you on a wild goose chase through the map for a little while and you’re so busy running after it that you lose your bearings so when you finally do catch the blasted thing you’re lost as to where you are. After which your inner dialogue goes something like this: “Oh, let’s look at the map.... oh yeah, I forgot —that’s pretty useless. Guess I’m going to wander around for 10 minutes to find the area I was working on...”.
A lot of games have these super annoying object chases and it’s one of my least favorite gaming tasks. (See also: the pigeons in Marvel’s Spider-Man.)

A small comment on the motion controls — I typically dislike motion controls, yet I left the painting on this default control setting despite having the ability to change the movement of the brush to the right analog stick. I never really was annoyed at the motion aspect of the control set even though I thought I’d eventually go in and switch to the alternate controls but I never felt the need.

Technological Achievement
Whenever a game bucks convention to do something different than the status quo there is potential for technological hiccups. How does Concrete Genie run and stay true to what it wants to be? Well, the game performed admirably for 95% of my playthrough until one of the final cutscenes it froze and then black-screened, forcing a complete exit from the game. This followed with a prompt to do a report to Sony, which I did. I had to reload the game, do the final gameplay sequence again and watch the scene for a second time (about a 10 minute investment). Of course I held my breath in panic that either my save file was corrupted or I had hit a game breaking bug, but fortunately the game didn’t stutter the second time and I proceeded through the last cutscene to the ending where the completion trophy popped and the credits started rolling. Honestly that was the first time in a long time and many gaming hours that I have had a game freeze and kick me out like that. I was running the latest patch, which I think is 1.04.

>> Minor annoyance with that aside, what the game achieves technologically is quite amazing. The murals you draw, including the genies you create, are all saved and show up throughout the game including the cutscenes. We have all played games where you customize a character’s outfit or appearance and then conveniently during cutscenes the game reverts back to the default appearance. I understand the complexity of making individual user customized tweaks save into the game architecture so that a pre-rendered scene can play out, so I forgive most games for the shortcoming. But here in Concrete Genie we see a very individualized environment and actual genie characters you draw and create are saved into the game structure and are permanently part of the backdrop and gameplay. It’s really impressive stuff. Even at the game’s opening menu when you boot it up it displays at static screen of a scene somewhere in Danska and it has your murals and paintings contained in it.
A lot of the genies can end up looking the same but if you make yours look a little crazy, you’ll be able to recognize them showing up repeatedly throughout your playthrough, and I love that.
Despite my quibbles with the character and facial animations, I send kudos to Pixel Opus for what they achieved here.

Value
I know in the purest sense a review probably shouldn’t consider a game’s price into a review. But I’m not a professional reviewer and I feel like commenting on Concrete Genie without mentioning its affordable launch price would be omitting one of its positives. I feel $30 is a fair price for the amount of content here. Yes, it’s only about an 8 hour jaunt, but if you’re so inclined there are several more hours to explore for a few hidden collectible, some post game content, a solid photo mode, and a free paint mode to just wander around and paint the town at your own will and pleasure.
The game appears to not be selling well, so I suspect it’ll probably be $20 by Black Friday and then potentially even lower within 6 months. Or if you are on the fence, maybe this will be a PS Plus title eventually, but for the current price it’s a decent value.

Overall Impression
Even with its inconsistencies in graphics and animation, wonky imprecise controls, and relatively forgettable characters, Concrete Genie is a solid value. It’s worthy of your time because of the innovative things it does technically and artistically, and has a unique beauty in its presentation that sets it apart. You’ve really never played a game quite like it, so if you’re feeling adventurous or stuck in a rut with a long open world shooter, check it out.

My score would be ... about 6.5-7 out of 10.

Edited on by Th3solution

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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Ralizah

@Th3solution Oh wow, that was a terrific write-up. I get what you mean about the character designs, but, personally, being a fan of that 'stop motion animation look,' I actually really dig the character designs. Less enthused by what I'm hearing about the controls, however.

You mentioned it controlling like a PS2 game, but really, it sort of seems like what a PS2 era game might look like if it was made for today's technology. Especially with regard to the weird theme (the PS2 was home to many strange and fascinating titles like this). I'll probably wait to get it until I actually have the time to give it the attention it deserves, but it's commanding more of my interest than most Sony-published titles this gen.

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themcnoisy

@Th3solution jaw dropping review Sol. Now I want concrete genie too.

These reviews are going in depth like the old magazines. 10/10.

Forum Best Game of All Time Awards

PS3 Megathread 2019: The Last of Us
Multiplat 2018: Horizon Zero Dawn
Nintendo 2017: Super Mario Bros 3
Playstation 2016: Uncharted 2
Multiplat 2015: Final Fantasy 7

PSN: mc_noisy

Th3solution

@Ralizah Thanks! And yeah, I hope I didn’t come across too harsh on the character visuals and character movement and control. I mean, the game is a lower budget AA type of offering and has a little bit of the indie charm that is becoming more rare on PS4 lately. Perhaps that’s why it took some adjustment for me. I shouldn’t expect Ash to jump around with the dexterity of Aloy or climb and traverse with the accuracy of Nathan Drake. It’s just the Sony first party games have set the bar so high that it felt almost half-baked in comparison (when in actuality it’s more likely a conscious decision to just be a different style of game). But if you like the aesthetic and know going in that it’s not going to have the big budget lifelike graphics then you’ll probably be happy with it.

@themcnoisy Thanks, man. Being a Dreams fan, I think you’ll especially like it.

Edited on by Th3solution

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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Forum Megapoll 2020 - Best Video Game Box Art: Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Special Edition

Arugula

@Th3solution Nice read and a very objective piece. I ended up achieving the platinum and I think my favourite thing about the game is that it just left me feeling happy which is so pleasant and unique for me from a game. Just a very charming creation overall.

Funny you mention about painting with motion, changing that to the right stick was the very first thing I did. Other than the unwieldy camera and the almost useless map I had pretty much no complaints. It definitely deserves to find a home in more gamers PS4's.

Edited on by Arugula

Arugula

Th3solution

@Arugula Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I agree about the pleasant emotional impact, as I felt the same.
I’m tempted to go back for the last 3 or 4 trophies, but the fact that the collectible pages and genie moments that I have remaining are not highlighted on the map means that I’ll be hunting for a while. I looked up a collectible guide online and it was really overwhelming. Maybe some day. I’m sure all it would take is about 2 or 3 hours to finish off the platinum.
How do you feel about the stop-motion animation for the characters and the climbing and platforming?

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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Forum Megapoll 2020 - Best Video Game Box Art: Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Special Edition

Ralizah

@Th3solution Eh, that's where I'll disagree with you. You don't need a massive budget to achieve a satisfying level of control. Zero budget indies do it all of the time. There's no excuse for the game not having satisfying controls.

I do like the implementation of gyro, though. The DS4 has such a nice gyroscope in it, but the Playstation crowd in general is so closed-minded about any control scheme that's not pure dual-analog.

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Arugula

@Th3solution I wasn't in love with the stop-motion style but the fit worked in the context of it and the developers vision. The fact the game is very forgiving in terms of platforming works for it too. For me, it worked, no complaints.

Arugula

RogerRoger

@Th3solution Top drawer review. Reading your thoughts over breakfast earlier beat any morning newspaper, hands down. Despite your final score and honest criticisms, it sounds like you've had a really interesting and enjoyable time with it, which I'm pleased about.

Are those your own screenshots (aside from the one of Ash, of course)?

"Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind."

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

Th3solution

@Ralizah @Arugula Yeah, fair enough on the issue of controls. I can’t help but compare it to the last game I played which was Spider-Man and the traversal was quite a bit more fleshed out, to say the least 😂. But on a similar level, I was comparing CG in my mind to the only other Sony exclusive released at a budget price this gen I played — Ratchet & Clank, and that game handles buttery smooth by comparison.

@RogerRoger The first screenshot is actually mine! My first screen post! I had representative shots for some of the other graphics that I wanted to display but I didn’t get them ported over in time. But the messaging trick worked well for me that you mentioned. I’ll be using that for future screen shots.

Edit: Oops.. let me give credit where due — it was actually @JohnnyShoulder who mentioned the message app trick to get the pics transferred. Thanks man!
(The PS4 web browser was as useless as predicted to upload screenshots to an internet library)

Edited on by Th3solution

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

————————

Forum Megapoll 2020 - Best Video Game Box Art: Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Special Edition

Ralizah

All of my screenshots so far have been self-generated, but I probably won't have that luxury for systems like Wii/U, PS2, 3DS, etc. that don't have screenshot utilities.

@Th3solution I set up a twitter account specifically for screenshot transfers, and just use that.

Edited on by Ralizah

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Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

I set up a twitter @Th3solution for uploading screenshots straight from the PS4 with pretty much no faffing about.

Never gonna touch the obnoxious site aside from embedding those piccys in the screenshot thread and review topic! 😅


As for the actual review it was a great read during my lunch break earlier and just re-read it again! 👍

I'll be choosing MediEvil as my budget priced Sony purchase when I get round to it... but Concrete Genie sounds very different from what I usually get and I'll probably bite at some point as it does look quite charming!

Edited on by Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

"Words don't make changes. Wounds do." Agent Black - Iconoclasts

PSN: GoddessFoxy-E
PLEASE tell me who you are from PushSquare when adding me or I WON'T accept the request.

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