Games, films, and books love to question reality in their fictions, examining what is true and what maybe is unreal. Add a heavy dose of machine AI controlling the actions and dropping in some dice dictating fate and you’re pretty much sorted for a recipe for disaster.
The original Asemblance first arrived earlier in 2018, receiving some decent reviews for its short but mind-bending first-person adventure experience. Asemblance: Oversight is a direct sequel to that and throws you back into the world of hidden agendas and fragments of narratives. But does it successfully guide you down the rabbit hole or is it like meeting that architect man from the Matrix sequels? Well, it’s a bit of both…
Asemblance: Oversight is a first-person exploration game, with some small amounts of puzzling and a ton of multiple endings to discover. Like the first game you are put straight into a grey control room, with a talkative AI who is giving you instructions, but is it steering you in the right direction? Can it be trusted? If you’ve played the original then you might just be right to be a bit wary of all the things you hear.
You basically have access to a number of memories on a terminal in the main control area, and when you select a memory you head through a Star Trek styled holodeck to explore that memory while trying to move the game forward. In one memory there might be a lush land with flying birds and blue skies, leaving you to search for the one thing that moves the memory forward. Or there might be standard puzzles to solve or things that need taking from one memory to the next one. For example, you find a locked door with a voice-activated sensor in a room that you can’t go into, but in another memory you find a walkie-talkie with a voice on a loop. Maybe that will be helpful?
The controls are very basic with just a walk button, a zoom in option and a press of the A button which basically interacts with doors or objects. The pace is nothing more than just a slow plod, but that simply works well within the whole tone of Oversight. In fact, you could probably complete the main journey in just under an hour, but there are multiple endings to discover that push the story and the narrative further on, all while unlocking some very trippy sequences that are well worth discovering. I really like the narrative of the piece as a whole and the extra little details it puts around the levels. The themes it introduces are outstanding and this is a game that certainly leaves you hunting many questions rather than giving you all the answers laid out on a plate. It’s a game that makes you think and be curious, and that’s never be a bad thing.
For some players out there though the experience as a whole is all too remote and maybe a bit slow. Fans of the first game will relish the idea of stepping back into this world, but if you aren’t particularly down with these exploration experiences, then I would suggest that you stop reading now and go back to Battlefield. There is nothing for you here. I have to admit to finding that pace slightly annoying at times, but there are some brilliant stand out sequences and the storyline is very clever indeed. Asemblance: Oversight is also very short and strangely there is something unsatisfying about its length, rather than like that found in the first.
Visually and this is a game that uses a mixture of some surreal landscapes peppered with lush wildlife and strange AI anomalies. It has a great use of lighting and really does utilise the trippy effects well, letting you examine the world of what is real and what is fake. The soundtrack is very good too, especially at creating a beautiful but foreboding sense of dread when walking around any corner. The effects are all top notch and the voice over is very solid, with a special mention going to the AI which I love.
Asemblance: Oversight is not going to be for everyone. It’s very short, can be quite confusing and it doesn’t hold much sway in the way of gameplay and actual mechanics. But for me – someone who very much liked the first game – this is a nice little extra chapter that gives a well rounded yet unusual narrative mixed with a peculiar world and a very interesting premise to probe into. My advice though would be to head into the original experience first and dip your toe into the water before committing to a swim with Oversight.