Review – Asemblance
Asemblance originally launched on Steam back on June 21st, 2016 and I heard nothing about it at the time. Fast forward to 2018 and it’s getting a release on major consoles and I had the opportunity to give it a go. And even after completing it and getting all of its secret endings, I’m still confused by it.
The game is heavily story based and essentially is a puzzle walking-sim. You wake up in a strange area and are guided by an AI from a machine that allows the user to simulate their own memories. You don’t remember how or why you’re in there, but lucky for you there is a machine to play your memories to help you try and escape. It starts off fairly eerie and at times seems like it’s going to transition into a murder mystery game. There are some intriguing memories you will go through, but ultimately none of it leads to anything satisfying.
There are multiple endings to go through, but most of them besides the last are pretty uneventful and don’t seem to aid the story in anyway. The final ending offers the most chunk of interesting story, but it raises more questions than anything and still doesn’t give a conclusion. The main issue here is the process of getting to these endings.
Lucky for the late players there are already people who have worked with the developer to figure out these puzzles. How is one suppose to figure out that you must open a drawer at exactly 1:01 on your stop watch, wait for the in game clock to turn to a certain time, then you have to run to a room and zoom in on a spot at exactly 16 seconds after the clock changed? It’s these kind of puzzles that make it more of a nuisance than anything and the payoff is so not worth it.
The gameplay boils down to you zooming in on objects to activate them. Sometimes this is done in an interesting way in that, while zoomed in, the environment may change. This also works against the graphics engine however. For the most part the game looks really good, running off the Unreal 3 engine, and walking around the 3 environments is nice. However, once you start zooming in on things trying to guess what to activate next it will show you the ugly face of low quality textures. The one human model they do have in the game is a stark difference in quality compared to the environments. It’s almost as if the developers were making a tech demo with the Unreal Engine for the environments and the rest was just thrown in there with random ideas.
The voice acting is decent for the AI, random audio files, and messages. The rest consists of strange audio tearing (on purpose) and a few couple music themes that are just on a loop. It’s very minimalist, which was working well back when I thought it was turning into a murder mystery. But towards the end the silence and theme tunes got annoying.
Apparently this is only the pilot episode of a mind-bending franchise inspired by The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, and the Black Mirror television series. Pilot episodes are typically a bit slower, but unlike Black Mirror or The Twilight Zone this episode doesn’t seem self contained. It didn’t answer any of its questions and seems like it will rely on the next game to really explain what is going on. As of now it feels like a $9.99 Unreal Engine 3 tech demo. While it starts out intriguing, it unfortunately does nothing worthwhile. I’m just not be able to recommend this to anyone, especially for the price.
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Asemblance is available now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
A copy of Asemblance was provided by the developer.