Pose Questions, offer no answers, have players question their own existence
Notice: A copy of this game was provided for review purposes. While we are grateful to receive this copy this does not influence our opinion in any shape or form.
gameplay 80 / story 75 / graphics 90 / sound 90
Imagine that the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland came to life and developed a video game. That game would be called Asemblance. This is a short walking simulator in the vein of Dear Esther and PT. And it’s a head fuck. Honestly, you will finish this game feeling like you knew more about it before playing it, than after.
The game starts off with an alarm going haywire and a red light flashing. Then an AI voice tells you to do something on the control panel. You do this and find there is no emergency and that the AI was testing you. Considering this is not the voice of GLaDOS, it can piss off with its mind games. But listening to it, in the beginning, is helpful.
You play as an unnamed character, in an unnamed place, with an unknown history. The control panel I mentioned earlier can boot up past memories of our protagonist. Some are pleasant, some not so much. The AI voice gives you little clues throughout as to what the hell is going on.
Slowly, you will wind up piecing things together and Asemblance will start to make some semblance of sense. But not a ton. The story is deliberately left ambiguous and confusing. Though I have an idea of what I think happened, someone else might think it was something else entirely. No one can be right, no one can be wrong.
With a story that unclear, it might not be a game for everyone. However, this game does pose the question of what is true versus what we perceive to be true. How reliable are our memories in reality? Just because we remember something one way does not mean that that is the way it actually happened. This game will leave you feeling very confused, not just about the story, but about your own brain as well.
The way your brain actually works is that the information goes in and then it gets copied over and over again to different places. The longer the memory is in your head, the more copies are made. Those of you that perhaps burned CDs as a kid will know that when you make copies of copies of copies, the quality goes down exponentially. If you are too young to get that reference, go watch the movie Multiplicity with Michael Keaton and leave me to rot in my sarcophagus.
What Asemblance actually does is bring attention to the fact that everything we remember is in segments. You remember bits and pieces and your brain takes what it knows of the situation and the people involved to fill in the gaps. It usually gives a full picture that is similar to what actually happened. But how do you know what was real and what was a blank that your brain filled? This game draws attention to this by only showing you fragments of the memories letting your own brain fill in some things but you are will never be sure. If that was the goal, job very well done.
For you trophy hunters, out there, I have wonderful news. I played this game for about 2 hours, I got all five endings and every trophy/achievement. There are 10 Achievements on Xbox One and 8 Trophies on PlayStation 4. The last achievement is called White. That is the most difficult because you will need a stopwatch. I used a guide to figure it out because it isn’t really anything that you could figure out on your own, nor is it anything that could just happen through a normal course of events.
Going for all of the endings is definitely something I would advise because it does give you more insight into the game itself and what is going on, but it’s like I said from the start. You will leave the game more confused than before you began. Plus I now have 1000G more than when I started, so definitely worth the price of admission.
Asemblance will confuse the hell out of you, but that is the ultimate goal. It pretty much tells you it’s okay to be confused and not have all the answers. Just keeps going through and you’ll pick up pieces along the way. You may never have the whole picture and there is nothing wrong with that. That’s a solid metaphor for life as well. Asemblance is inexpensive on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Steam, and it is certainly worth your time.
It is also important to note Asemblance is just the first part of an expanding series. Asemblance: Oversight is the second episode. There is no word yet if there will be more.
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