The Assembly Review

Some assembly required.

Virtual reality works best when games utilize it in ways that are inherently unique to the technology. Still, plenty of developers shoehorn games into VR that fail to live up to the technology's potential. Unfortunately, The Assembly falls into this category.

The Assembly is a first-person adventure game that throws you into the deep end of an ongoing story. A group of underground scientists--the titular Assembly--conduct experiments without the government standing over its shoulder. You take on the role of two different scientists: new recruit Madeleine Stone, and Caleb Pearson, a veteran looking for a way out. These characters only come into contact with each other for a brief period of time; otherwise, their stories are separate.

Stone, a scientist whose career was recently ruined, is undergoing trials to see if she's fit to join The Assembly. These trials will, at times, involve simple tasks like moving blocks around or choosing the right shapes. Other puzzles, however, expect you to move around the environment to inspect various objects, listen to audio tapes, or use in-game terminals to gleen information. These trials can be compelling; investigating a simulated murder to uncover the culprit is an unexpected-yet-captivating twist. Some of these quests push Stone to confront her past, though the game doesn't offer you enough of a chance to care about the character before it throws you into her troubled family history. This makes the choices feel less impactful than they should.

Pearson, on the other hand, discovers that The Assembly is creating something sinister based on his past research, which prompts him to take all the evidence he can find to expose the organization. His path is definitely the more interesting of the two and makes The Assembly feel like a dystopian society, where "The Man" is always watching. You travel through the facilities, identifying evidence and solving simple puzzles. Pearson will talk to himself, letting you know what you need to find or do. His story goes in some intriguing directions, but it seems to stop short just as you start to get engaged.

Unfortunately, neither story feels climactic in any way. It's more like you're looking in on a day in the life of the secretive scientific organization. This makes the narrative feel aimless and unsatisfying, despite the promising premise. With a bit more time, fleshing out, and room to breathe, this tale could’ve been a lot more intriguing. Some characters are introduced with little to no explanation as to who they are, and The Assembly would tell a much more entertaining, effective tale if you were allowed to spend more time learning about the world before arriving at story beats. As it is, the story is delivered at a pace that feels like it works against itself, making it hard to care about the game's events.

No Caption Provided

You experience The Assembly through a VR headset or playing it on a screen. I tried both, and the experience felt better outside of VR. I felt motion-sick in VR a couple times, specifically when moving through the facility on a wheelchair-like device or using an elevator. This problem didn't occur outside of these sequences, however, as you can travel through the world by teleporting from one spot to another. Teleporting in VR gets tiresome, though, especially when you're trying to find the optimal spot to look at a specific object in the environment. Stone's trials are much easier to accomplish outside of VR, since you can move faster and look around more easily with the analog sticks. If you can handle the locomotion, you can use the analog sticks to move in VR.

Viewing The Assembly's world through a VR headset won't enhance the experience, either. The most it offers is the chance to move around its environment, which doesn't feel like enough of an incentive to jump into an Oculus Rift. It doesn't feel like you're living in the world. Stone and Pearson's disembodied voices come from what’s supposed to be your virtual body, which makes you feel even more disconnected from the game. Elements like these, coupled with the non-optimal control experience, make it difficult to recommend playing The Assembly in VR.

The Assembly feels like a small part of a bigger, much more engaging game. It's a good foundation for a world full of mystery, but it ends just as it starts to get interesting. A game that fully explores the dystopian facility, its history, and the state of the outside world is something I'd be interested in. However, as it is, The Assembly is hard to recommend.

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The Good

  • A promising premise
  • Stone's trials are mostly fun

The Bad

  • The story ends just as it gets interesting
  • Playing in VR isn't crucial or engrossing

About the Author

Mat completed The Assembly in around four hours. He played the game inside and out of virtual reality and saw both endings. GameSpot was provided with a copy of the game for the purpose of this review.
15 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Byshop

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The voice acting was uneven in quality. This game could have benefited from better voice acting and a bit better writing.

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p1p3dream

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We really need a proper developer to make a VR game. And when I say proper, I mean a developer with a significant budget.

If the only titles we get for VR, are these "B" Budget titles, VR is going to kill itself off... Hopefully once Playstation get's involved and we see some of these AAA titles roll out, we will finally get what we paid for.

I'm a VR supporter, I think the tech is great- but we're not going to convince any of the skeptics with most of the current stuff thats out...

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Nforspeed

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Damn watch the trailer looked cool but to bad it's only Mediocre

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mane_basic

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this was a fair review for a vr game you pointed out the down side without giving the fanboy view some who review vr games do. after reading this I understand why it got the score it did. I hope you guys start to review more vr games as well as preview more vr games. I can barely find interview from vr devs. or gameplay before a vr game comes out. I hope at some point VR gets a it's own tab on page.

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Nforspeed

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@mane_basic: 100% agree

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deactivated-5ebc942967df5

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VR games in a nutshell. The technology is a joke when it comes to video games.

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Externalpower43

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@Prats1993: Absolutely.

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tsuingosuto1985

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Still interested in this despite what alot of people have been saying, just for the experience really more than anything, not expecting to have my mind blown but still.

JaxDagger - YouTubeGaming Channel

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Karmazyn

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another gimmicky disappointing VR title. Still no reason to spend over £500 for Oculus Rift. I am waitting for the system seller, can you release one please !

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mane_basic

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@Karmazyn: I own an oculus and I recommend waiting on vr the games r just not there yet. I am hoping this time next year we start to see bigger games coming out. save ur money put it toward you pc or to a xbox scorpio when there is a lot more money backing VR games

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Gamer_4_Fun

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Coming from a guy who gave solus project 5/10 does not mean much. Seriously though, I never seen this editor. Is he new or contractual basis?

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eLite0101

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@Gamer_4_Fun: At least he is somebody who doesnt over-inflate score like most do, where 7 is a "mediocre" starting point.

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Pawfalcon

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How disappointing, I had high hopes for this.

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DarthRevenX

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How did I guess the sub line was gonna read "some assembly required"??

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The Assembly

First Released Jul 19, 2016
released
  • PC
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One

The Assembly is an immersive adventure in VR where there are two sides to everything. An experience where perspectives shift, the right choice is never clear, and a question is always left open: When does the end justify the means?

5
Mediocre

Average Rating

6 Rating(s)

6.2

Developed by:

Published by:

Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Teen
Language, Violence