Top Critic Average
This game is by all means not perfect, but what it gets right is exactly what it’s going for. It’s there to confuse you, to point you in the right direction, to drip out info while still giving you a lot to examine. I feel like sometimes it uses us against ourselves, even when it doesn’t expect us to.
Prospective players should be ready to look outside the game for solutions — there are online images to consider, timestamps to mull over, a reddit thread to consult, and even emails — actual emails — to send.
To call Asemblence an unorthodox game would be an understatement; it’s a game that throws convention off a cliff. I doubt many would find it fun, or even satisfying in a traditional sense, but it's a game that pushes the boundaries of what a game can be – that questions our most basic assumptions of the medium, and that is something we desperately need.
The world creation is where this game shines. The limited amount of areas is full of small details. When looking at random documents and reading them, they’ll have actual information – not just gibberish to make it look like a document was written without any real content.
The fact of the matter is, there aren’t a ton of experiences like this around on PlayStation 4 (perhaps with the exception of SOMA): puzzle-driven psychological thrillers are fairly scarce. And though the puzzles aren’t as rewarding or playful as The Witness, a small collection of my friends have been spit-balling theories and ideas back-and-forth for the past couple of days in an attempt to unravel the last mystery. For $9.99, it is an experience I highly recommend trying out, even with its faults and being for a niche audience.
Asemblance delivers an intriguing narrative based around a time looping mechanic, and makes a lot out of very little. The game may not have many environments to explore, but each one is carefully layered and crafted to allow the story to emerge at whatever pace you're able to keep up with. It helps that the title has genuinely interesting – and, oftentimes, unnerving – ideas, which, when paired with the menacing music, makes for an engaging experience.
Asemblance tells us a surreal story, full of mystery and suspense: a short but intense psychological horror game, in which the gameplay comes second.
Review in Italian | Read full review
I believe that Asemblance caters to a very specific niche of gamers. If you love tearing apart a game and trying to figure out how every little secret and every item placement is relevant to the grand scheme of things and you really love a complicated ARG, then this is the game you need in your life. Everyone else will probably only be confused and frustrated.
Some parts of the Asemblance are executed incredibly well, but having clocked in at just over an hour, it’s a tough one to recommend. Those who enjoy tearing apart this specific type of interactive thriller will have a ball searching every detailed nook and cranny for fresh clues, while the majority of gamers simply “won’t get it”. Either way, we’re intrigued to see where Nilo goes next and whether its ambitions for a landmark narrative series can actually materialise.
Asemblance takes inspiration from the likes of PT, The X-Files and The Twilight Zone and brings them together in a package that hints at a franchise with a future that's bigger than what it currently offers.
It's just a shame there isn't way more game here. If this truly is the start of a franchise, I'd potentially be up for more titles, but I can't deny how much this sparse pilot entry leaves me wanting.
Asemblance seems to be trying to posit a number of thought-provoking questions to the player, but neither the narrow gameplay nor the convoluted narrative articulates this message effectively, and the result is a diluted experience that is over before it began. Hopefully Nilo Studios has the opportunity to deliver more fulfilling and expansive episodes to the series in the future, but this first outing doesn’t inspire too much confidence.
I applaud Nilo Studios for trying something different, their outstanding quality of graphics and sound, and for creating something that forces the player to think outside of the confines of the average video game.