Gaming has developed so much over the years and we now see so many types of games and genres being made, with Asemblance being a perfect example of how different and more experimental games can be accessed by more gamers.
Asemblance is a walking simulator with exploration and light puzzle solving. The game comes from Nilo Studios and I would describe it as a psychological thriller, full of mystery and intrigue. I had no idea what to expect and I thought that it was going to possibly be some sort of horror game.
You awaken inside some sort of technological machine, or laboratory, which has been built to simulate important memories. The game starts out with flashing lights and a sense of uncertainty which instantly makes you wonder what is happening. You’re in some sort of control room and you’re greeted by an AI voice over speakers, which instructs you to access a nearby workstation and answer questions. The terminal also displays various memories, or locations, which can by accessed by a doorway. The first area you access is a woodland environment, full of trees and lush scenery. The game looks great and although the woodland area looks beautiful but it’s actually only a visual representation.
The main narrative of the game focuses on your wife, but its unclear where she is and what your relationship state currently is. As more memories and elements are found or uncovered you slowly begin to question and puzzle over what is actually going on. Like I said Asemblance leans more on the psychological side and not so much on horror or jump scare style moments, which seems to be the trend in this type of game. The gameplay is incredibly simple but also very clever and subtle, as you use X to interact with items and objects within memories. You can also use R2 to zoom in on objects, which can also trigger things to happen. Using R2 is vital and is often the only way you can read letters, notes and look at objects in detail. The game uses environmental storytelling throughout and is one of the main ways of subtly adding depth to the narrative.
In Asemblance, the majority of your time is spent walking, listening, interacting with objects and reading. I was disappointed with the lack of environments, or memories, as you revisit the same areas over and over, finding new objects and triggers that progress the game forward. In each memory you will find notes, photos, letters and books, which allow story elements and memories to unfold. Finding the critical objects can become frustrating and I often found that I was searching areas for long periods before progressing. When you find the item that is needed the world around you glitches and you therefore know you’re heading down the correct path.
The AI voiceover guiding you is integral to the sense of progression and it greets you each time you return to the chamber. I really enjoyed listening to the voiceover and the subtle way it guides you is extremely helpful. There are three different areas to explore: a woodland area, your apartment and your office. It’s hard to talk too much about the story without giving things away, but it’s a short game with different paths to take. The game does a great job of conveying a sense of mystery and wonder that makes you want to push forward to find out what happens, even if ultimately it leaves you feeling unsatisfied.
The presentation of the game is great, with slick graphics and high-definition. The movement is slow-paced but smooth and the environments look very realistic. The use of glitching and flickering effects instantly remind you that the areas you are exploring are simply visual representations of memories. The controls are simple, using the thumbsticks for movement, X to interact and R2 to zoom. The walking is incredibly slow but you do move slightly faster with R1 but even with that it feels like and endless crawl. The sound design is also great, with relaxing music that adds a somber tone during exploration. The AI voiceover works well and the sound effects also add depth to the exploration and experience. The more time you put into exploring and looking at objects, the more you will ultimately get out of the game and its narrative.
Overall, Asemblance is a game that looks great, with realistic environments but the gameplay feels slow-paced and repetitive, which in a way adds to the sense of mystery and tension. I would have liked to of seen more environments to explore to mix things up but the narrative cleverly develops through the smallest of moments and interactions which keep you wanting to push forward and discover the next crucial step. I would recommend this game but don’t expect action or scares, as this is more of an ethereal experience with a somber tone.
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