Memories and machines, and man, oh my!
In Asemblance, you wake to find yourself trapped inside of an experimental machine. This is, of course, no ordinary machine. This machine was built to simulate memories. You have no idea how you got there, came to be inside of this machine. In order to break the cycle, you are forced to look into a past that you may not want to remember. Memories come and go, and this is what Asemblance lives and dies upon.
Asemblance had me intrigued from the very first reveal trailer, but going into the final game I had no real idea what to expect. As many know, I’m a hopeless romantic when The X-Files is mentioned, and that’s all Nilo Studios really had to include to get me hooked. Playing through Asemblance, I was constantly surprised and intrigued. This first “pilot” episode of Asemblance is described as a first-person, narrative-driven puzzle game that draws many different influences from games like PT and The Stanley Parable. Asemblance also draws from the questioning of perceived truths exposed in the popularized Serial podcasts, and the psychological methods and soundscapes of David Lynch. Asemblance truly is a fusion of so many different stimuli, all the while presenting itself as an entirely unique experience. It stands all by itself as something honest and rare.
"Playing through Asemblance, I was constantly surprised and intrigued."
While an experience like P.T. was distinctively palpable and took the Internet by storm, I honestly and legitimately feel like my time spent with Asemblance challenged my wits and problem-solving abilities in far more clever ways. P.T. did and does still stand, as a sole example of fascinating horror, but Asemblance is a multifaceted puzzle-box that challenged my ways of thinking and the angles from which I approached tribulations. P.T. did have a few different challenges for players to overcome in that teaser, but the game lets you progress relatively easy, always pushing you forwards. Asemblance, on the other hand, while there was always only one solution to progress in the narrative, Nilo Studios crafted intelligent ways of trekking forward. At the same time, Nilo Studios drove me and every other player bonkers over the first week or so that Asemblance was live.
While you should, of course, play Asemblance first and experience it on your own, there is a hugely interesting thread on Asemblance’s Steam Community Page, which follows the insanity that trailed the release of Nilo Studio’s pilot episode. While I only peeked my head in here and there after I myself found myself at a standstill attempting to find the last two endings to Asemblance, the work and effort and theories contained within that community page were marvelous and fascinating to watch. As mentioned previously, it took the community almost a full week to reach the true endings of Asemblance, and the methods used to find that ending are bizarre and bonkers and fabulous. Once you inevitably get stuck around the same part, you can check out ImTheBlueRanger’s YouTube video and experience the pure ecstasy as he solves a truly berserk puzzle and progresses towards the end. Additionally, you can also check out Bumbleworth’s YouTube video where he reaches the very end(?) of Asemblance.
"The work, effort and theories within its community were marvelous and fascinating to watch."
Now, while all of the work put forth by the community was phenomenal to watch from afar, this is where I hit a dead end and the insanity and frustration began. Liam and I both talk about it on a very special Asemblance Fireside Chat, and both agree about this point of conflict. Yes, the final puzzles and solutions were crafted with the care of a maniacal maestro, but the difficulty spike in finding the final White Shift and the “true” ending create an unfortunate roadblock. While I enthusiastically enjoyed the twists and turns and winding solutions leading up to those final two puzzles, that final roadblock soured things a bit. This predicament brings up an intriguing argument of creating something that any casual player can complete, versus creating something that requires a hardcore community coming together to overcome. Of course, that’s probably a topic for another day, but I am entirely intrigued to see what approach Nilo Studios takes with their next installment in the Asemblance series.
Nilo Studios, qualms regardless, have crafted a fantastic experience with their pilot episode of Asemblance. The team of Niles Sankey, Adam Burd, and Eric Raab have not only crafted a gorgeously unique experience, but also created one with heart and compassion. From their obvious inspirations in theme and tone to the dashingly haunting score, Asemblance is a very special experience. While it may not receive the large-scale publicity that P.T. did, the game for damn sure deserves that much, and more. Asemblance is beautifully troubling, but altogether poignant in the end.