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Concrete Genie: Hands-on with PlayStation VR experience

Concrete Genie has more than a single-player story to offer. It also has something special for PlayStation VR owners. Shacknews recently tried out Splotch and the Crystal Canvas.

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Sony and developer Pixelopus have put together a full single-player story with Concrete Genie. Players will venture out and explore the dilapidated seaside town of Denska, wandering the town with Ash and his magical paint brush. However, this isn't all that Concrete Genie has to offer. There's also a second component to the game, one for those who own the PlayStation VR peripheral.

Concrete Genie comes with a pair of virtual reality game modes. There's one that allows users to free paint with Concrete Genie's various tools. There's also a mode that follows Ash's artistic sidekick, Splotch, called Splotch and the Crystal Canvas. Shacknews went hands-on with the latter and got a taste of what PSVR owners can expect.

Players start off inside a cave, devoid of any signs of life. But once the game starts, Splotch appears on-screen and instructs players on how to decorate the surrounding area. Painting objects operates similarly to the main game, with players selecting an object and using their brush to paint whatever area they wish. The difference is that instead of a user interface menu, player selections appear on a canvas along their left hand. Meanwhile, the brush itself is controlled with the right hand. Players will be holding onto two PlayStation Move controllers, motioning like Bob Ross with his most trusted tools.

For the most part, players are welcome to decorate their canvas as they see fit. However, Splotch will jump in with instructions on which object the area needs in order to move forward. He'll ask for objects like flowers, trees, apples, or the sun. While the opening stage will come across like any one of the walls one would see in Concrete Genie, the second stage is where things really start to open up and feel more like an immersive VR experience.

The second stage will take players outdoors, with Splotch asking for new objects to help liven up the area. Flowers, plants, stars, and the like will illuminate the player's surroundings, as they earn more objects over the course of the game. The environment then switches around as the player paints a moon and a sun over the sky. Depending on whether they switch around to day or night, the objects will take on different colors, offering a different view of the surrounding landscape.

Our time with Splotch and the Crystal Canvas was all-too-brief, but the experience proved to be serene and relaxing. There was little pressure in place, with no fail states to speak of. Players could decorate the world at their own leisure, painting their ideal landscape. For his part, Splotch was a patient mascot, interacting with the player-placed objects in different ways. He'd frolic among the flowers, lay back along a large stalk, or pick up an apple on the ground and casually munch on it. He never rushed anyone at any point and was cool with just relaxing right along with the player.

While Concrete Genie's main single-player mode has a full story around it, Splotch and the Crystal Canvas is more of a relaxation experience for anyone lucky enough to own a PlayStation VR peripheral. It's a fun side mode, letting the player fully dive in and inject life, color, and art to their world.

Splotch and the Crystal Canvas, along with the VR Free Paint mode, will be included with the full Concrete Genie package at no extra charge. Look for Concrete Genie to release on PlayStation 4 on October 8. For more on the game's traditional single-player story, be sure to check out our hands-on preview.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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