Think The Butterfly Effect. Then mix it with a little bit of PT and add a dab of The Stanley Parable, and you’ve gotten yourself the mind boggling psychological horror that is Asemblance. According to Nilo Studio’s official website, their first game is “the pilot episode of a mind-bending franchise inspired by The Twilight Zone, The X-Files and the Black Mirror Television series.”
As exciting as it may sound, the game feels forgettable at the best. Mind you, there are plenty of great things about the game, but the execution feels a little sloppy, making the entire experience unfulfilling.
Now you can’t talk much about the game without spoiling some of it, so we’ll try not to mention the story too much. Your aim is to enter numerous memories using a simulation, in order to discover “the secret”. You wake up to a blaring alarm and an AI calmly asking you to help, guiding you through the process. You make your way to your memories, reliving past experiences, but as you get more and more into the game, you’ll realize that something is wrong…..way, way wrong.
The game’s entire focus is on environmental interaction. From a plush green mountain path to a shoddy, old office, you have to read, look intently at your surroundings, listen to voice recordings, as each of them is linked and provides you a hint for your next action. The (not so) friendly AI constantly tries to tell you that memories can’t be reliable, and that fake memories may be planted in your mind. The memories seemingly jump forward and back in time, creating a sense of confusion and disarray, with eerie music in the background making it seem like you’re trying to piece together a great mystery. But all the anticipation fades once you spend some time in the memories and realize there isn’t much going on in the end.
Asemblance is not a badly made game. The premise is intriguing, is perfectly complimented by the music, and there are multiple endings, each with its own discovery, prompting you to spend a few hours roaming around in the memories again and again, bent on solving the mystery. The best thing about the game, similar to PT, is maybe that you won’t be able to discover all the secrets on your own, and might need to go to various forums in order to get help. Nilo Studio is hoping to get the entire community to put their heads together is order to reveal the mystery.
What the game lacks, however, is a backstory. It doesn’t answer any questions for itself, there is nothing that indicates how the place came to be or who you are, and after a point it feels like you’re jumping from one random memory to another. Nothing in the game makes you feel connected to these memories, and it can turn from scary to frustrating really fast. The narrative isn’t very coherent, and the story seems to fall apart in bits and pieces. The plot feels very promising and intriguing, but the storytelling doesn’t really hold it together. Most of the endings are easy to obtain, but they’re all equally unsatisfying as you’re left with more questions than answers, and the game cannot exactly be called a cliffhanger. Now, Nilo Studio claims this to be the pilot episode, and that it will lead to better and more perplexing stuff, but as the pilot episode, we feel that it could have been a lot more.
The verdict? Asemblance is worth a shot. It is dark and scary, and you’ll get goosebumps every step of the way. It is intriguing and successfully manages to hook you enough to try to end it in as many ways as you can. Just don’t expect any closure when you’re done with it, because chances are you’ll be scouring the forums to get that last ending or to make sense out of what actually happened, or was happening, or will happen in the game.
For more news and reviews, keep checking back at Gaming Central.