A Serious Situation
I think I may be an odd gamer in some respect.
Rarely have I been one to get excited about a major release from a big studio. I like all sorts of games that span from a FPS to RPG’s. There are rare titles that enamor me to where I have to talk about it after I beat the campaign. The last review that really came from the heart was Unravel that released earlier this year as it brought out the light side of me in a way few games can.
Then there is the dark side of me that I forget about sometimes; the horror movie watching, dark literature reading fan that loves a mind-bending story that doesn’t always have a happy ending, or even a cohesive one. Asemblance, from Nilo Studios, has brought us a small, well-detailed game that will have fans starting the campaign over again and again to find the answers that they will want. It has been a long time since I have been so eager to unlock all the secrets in a game, and even after completing the trophy list, the intrigue is still high.
The setup in Asemblance is straightforward. You wake up in a chamber that contains a device that is able to replicate your memories. A computer AI talks to you throughout the campaign that actually exists to question what memories are real, and if you are actually reliving false memories based on the dates of those memories. There are only three past life experiences to choose from, and focusing on certain objects using the right trigger unlocks secrets from another memory that you have experienced already…but just not in the correct way. This is where players may get annoyed as there is an abundance of repetition in this game that some players may not like. However, this repetition allows us, the player, to get a better understanding of why any false memories exist and what happened in the main character’s life for this to happen.
Asemblance is a psychological thriller that takes it cues from older television shows like The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside, or more recently with its take on technology, Black Mirror. In fact, the developers at Nilo have mentioned that this game is part of a series where, just like the shows it takes its cues from, each game will be its own story and can be enjoyed separately. This may be turn out to be a great way to market their games, and if Asemblance is any indication, Nilo Studios may have a set of modest hits on their hands at the very least.
Of course, not everything is perfect. The character model that is used in the game isn’t very detailed, and there are spots in the game that seem to glitch out every once in a while. I kept on trying to focus on these spots because it seemed like an obvious thing to do. Whenever something significant happens in Asemblance, the picture glitches a bit, so looking at items that seem to have an anomaly made sense. It was counter-intuitive in the long run, but both may have been a design choice by the developers to mess with the player. Also, Asemblance is not a very long game either clocking in between one to two hours to complete an ending, and even less time going through it again to get another ending.
I am not going to pretend that I know the complete story to Asemblance, but players will probably be able to put the pieces together well enough with the few endings that you can obtain. The events in the backstory may not be very original, but that is just a piece of what the game is about. In the end, Asemblance is about the extent we will go to relive or forget the past, and the human perseverance to find out the truth no matter how painful it may be.
The endings aren’t necessarily easy to find. Like the famed P.T., there is a lot of trial and error that will take place. The “white ending” will be the ending that some will obsess about obtaining, but to do so there is a set combination of events that need to occur and are even timed based. Once you figure out the sequence, you will get the most clues of what is going on in the story.
I wouldn’t say that this game is scary either, but there is a moment or two that may make you question if you will want to continue. If 1980’s David Cronenberg and Stephen King combined their talents, Asemblance may be a result. Not everyone will enjoy Asemblance, especially those in the camp that believes narrative-driven games like The Stanley Parable and Gone Home aren’t really “games”.
Asemblance is a game that will mess with your mind. The only way to get through all the different endings is to perform trial and error in all the areas that the artificial intelligence will allow you to go into. Not only will fans of this P.T. style of the game love the dark nature of this game, but it will probably create a community that will want to help one another to find the secrets along the way, assuming that it hasn’t happened already. Prepare to obsess over the details that may or may not exist, and enjoy the hell out of every minute of Asemblance. The staff at Nilo Studios may have an interesting idea on their hands, and if Asemblance is part of a series of games coming soon, I will have to pay the ten dollars again in hopes of getting another experience like this.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available for: PS4 (Reviewed) and Steam; Publisher: Nilo Studios; Developer: Nilo Studios; Players: 1; Release date: June 21, 2016; MSRP: $9.99
Full Disclosure: This review is based on a copy of the game that was purchased by Hey Poor Player.