snipe91594's Asemblance (PC) review

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An Experience that Hits the Mark as Well as a 50 Cent First Pitch

Asemblance has great aspirations and a great premise. Take a few detailed environments and reuse them in a way that doesn't make them feel stale. In these environments, you'll spend most of your time combing through, picking up items, and interacting with a small number of elements. It's similar to Gone Home in a way, but is a bit more restrictive in what you can pickup and do.

You start off in a strange place. A cold metal room with sirens blaring and lights flashing. A voice, some sort of A.I., informs you of what to do. You interact with a monitor to answer some questions and begin the meat of the game. You're presented with a sort of holo-chamber, within which you can choose various locations and times to visit using the aforementioned monitor. Each of these locations is absolutely gorgeous. The attention to detail in each environment makes it obvious that Nilo Studios was very careful in placing each object, each scrap of paper. The main crux of your exploration is that you are simply trying to figure out what is going on exactly. After exploring an environment there is usually one object you can interact with that will unlock the next room. Beyond these interactions there is very little to do besides look at things.

And this of itself is not a terrible thing. Games like Gone Home use this mentality to great effect, but for the following reason, Asemblance misses the mark. The main root of Asemblance's problems is that after exploring all the rooms its very easy to stop and say: "Oh, that's whats going on" and be done with it. The initial sense of mystery that Asemblance creates with its opening and the first exploration of the environment is effective but that sense of mystery starts to diminish quickly after you've explore the same environment more than two times.

I mentioned that one of the interesting ideas Asemblance uses is the reuse of environments. At moments, you will return to an area you've already visited and something will have changed. In most games this would be par for the course, but the way Asemblance presents its level design gives this a unique feel. The problem with this, however, is that after the first revisit, the effect is highly diminished. The changes don't become surprising and they caused me to feel almost lethargic. It wasn't exciting to re-analyze the location, it felt like busy work to reach the next story beat. If there had been more substantial change to each location it would have been more enticing, but most of the details remain exactly the same. There is one moment, however, where the slight changes are used in an incredible fashion and, while it tells a portion of the story that is easy to figure out beforehand, it still induces a strong emotional response.

The things that make Asemblance somewhat unique end up being the things that make it bland and monotonous. That isn't to say there aren't things to enjoy: The detail and visuals are great; The initial mystery is intriguing. I enjoyed parts of the game and it's worth trying at the very least. It's just that Asemblance quickly takes a nose dive in the opposite direction. It becomes more of a chore & a bore. And, despite its length, it feels a bit to long.

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