Now Playing: The Assembly (2016)

Yet another Playstation VR title. Grabbed this because it was on sale and looked interesting, but eh…it wasn’t that great.

Nice enough looking environments and an interesting concept of interacting with some secret science group with questionable morals (called…The Assembly), but as an experience it just felt incomplete. Puzzles are rare and too easy. Everything else is just walking around, looking through a lot of cabinets and drawers, most of which are empty.

The plot has a lot of potential, but it never really realizes it. You never really see the threat posed by The Assembly. There’s a lot of talking about it and apparently a lot of mischief going on off screen, but you’re never really directly exposed to it, and so it never really feels particularly sinister.

The few moral choices you have to make feel much the same. They usually refer to things that are going to happen off screen. For example, oh no, you have to choose who should get this kidney transplant, a 70 year old veteran that’s famous for his PTSD coping techniques or a random 7 year old girl. Except you don’t get to meet or even see either of them. It feels more like a question from a job application, which I suppose it technically is in this context, but it just doesn’t have any impact. Ok. I clicked old man. Now I forget about him and move on to the next room, never to hear about that situation again. Who cares?

This just had the feeling all around of being only the first episode in a larger story. It was all build up and no real payoff. It felt like it should have ended with “to be continued”, but they just said “fuck it, let’s just slap an ending on here and call it a full game”.

Oddly enough, the same can be said about the use of VR in the game. Apparently this was originally designed as a normal game, but had the VR capability added on afterwards, and it shows. Functionally, VR has no real use here and while the environments aren’t bad looking, they don’t contain any areas or scenes that are remotely memorable enough to go “wow, I’m glad I played THAT in VR!”. It just doesn’t add anything to the experience. In fact it only makes things more difficult, with the weird Here They Lie-ish controls you have to use to avoid motion sickness.

I wouldn’t really call it an altogether unpleasant experience in the end, but it was definitely ultimately unfulfilling and there are much better things to spend $20 and 4-5 hours on.

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