The Assembly Review
Whether or not you are a believer in the staying power of virtual reality, it is here now and we must embrace it. The early games that we're going to experience may not always be the most mind blowing experiences, but what we are seeing is paving the way to the future. The Assembly by nDreams is a game that introduces a deep narrative that follows two characters through the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
When we are first introduced to the characters we find out that they are both scientists. Caleb Pearson and Madeline Stone are both at a critical time in their lives when they must make a serious decision that will not only affect them, but possibly change the world. Caleb is working on trying to escape The Assembly, while Madeline is attempting to become their newest scientist.
Both Caleb and Madeline have very different styles of gameplay. As Caleb, you are attempting to smuggle out classified material. This takes a lot of thinking and discovering all while making sure that no one finds out. Luckily, there are no real stealth elements to the game and it's pretty much narrative driven. This keeps the player going forward in a story that you really want to find out more about. Madeline's story is a little darker and is more like a puzzle game. You must pass trials and make moral decisions that will greatly impact your character's future.
The Assembly uses the Dualshock 4 and doesn't have an option for the PlayStation Move. I was a little disappointed at first because you really want to try out all of the cool new options of the PlayStation VR, but after awhile I didn't think that the Move would add anything beneficial to the experience. One awesome feature of The Assembly is that you can change your movement style. You can walk fast, slow or snap to locations. I originally put the game on walking fast (which is actually called normal) and found myself getting motion sickness. After playing with the control options for awhile, I found the perfect fit for me. I can't really knock the game for motion sickness because not everyone is going be as sensitive as me, however, I do recommend that you play with the options to find the optimal settings to prevent this from happening to you.
As far as exploring goes, The Assembly has a fairly large world. You make your way through plenty of different areas in this massive laboratory that is partially underground. This prevents the player from getting bored of the same old locations and even though the labs may look the somewhat the same, there are plenty of layouts and different rooms to go into. The variety in the lab and the bouncing back and forth between characters really helps drive the player forward.
There are a few minor annoyances with The Assembly that could have definitely been improved upon. I've played a few VR games and I have the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headphones which feature the ability to hear 3D audio. The audio in The Assembly doesn't utilize the spatial sound which would create a much more immersive experience. Another issue I had is that there isn't a lot to interact with in the world other than what's related to the story or things like drawers and cabinets that you can open that may or may not have something important in them. There are a decent amount of voicemails that you can listen to on phones, and computers you can log into to read people's emails, but it would benefit the world if the player was able to just pick up an object and toss it. This doesn't necessarily affect the gameplay, but it does help the immersive experience.
I finished the 12 chapters of The Assembly in just over 4 hours. I, unfortunately, had to stop twice because of motion sickness, but if that didn't happen I could have easily finished the game in a single sitting and been fine with it. Right now with the limited number of VR games out for the PlayStation, I would say that the $29.99 price tag is completely fair and that it is an enjoyable experience. If you like narrative driven games then I could comfortably say that The Assembly is one of the better choices for PS VR right now.
4 out of 5 stars
Thank you to nDreams for providing the code.