Day 188: Asemblance

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Hard as it may be for me to accept, I understand at this point that I’ll never get to play P.T. I’ve viewed my share of videos, read up on theories, even played a remake, but experiencing it myself, unless I cut a deal with a shady PS4 reseller, just isn’t possible anymore.

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of developers out there more than willing to take its place in my heart. While I’d like to sit here and say that it’s purely quality that drove the demand for P.T., it’s also a matter of scarcity. It was a very unique thing that we no longer have access to, so while it may come off as opportunistic in some cases (ahem, Allison Road), I can’t exactly fault those that want to recapture that magic.

In the case of Asemblance, I can’t help but feel like the mere idea of creating an overly complicated mystery was the only motivator, giving no concern to whether or not it made any contextual sense or led to a pay-off. Context is a funny word to use in reference to the game anyway since it seems absolutely terrified to give you even the slightest clue as to what it is that you’re doing, both as the player and as a character in the story. It doesn’t take long for those two roles to break away from one another either, leaving you staring at a wall wondering what you’re supposed to be activating, but at no point giving you any reason to care about the revelation said activation may bring with it. As a proof of concept, it’s provocative, if a bit shallow. As a game you actually have to pay for, it’s borderline insulting.

That’s not to say that I found my time with Asemblance to be a complete waste, but I kept waiting for something; that hook, that dash of flavor beyond the cliched relationship with an antagonistic AI, but it never seemed to come, the game itself seeming more concerned with the next bit of “look at this cool effect we can do” before ultimately leading me back to the same place, asking the same questions. A good mystery is not only something that’s hard to decipher, but it’s also, in my humble opinion, something worth discovering. At no point in my brief time playing did I feel like it was worth it. Experiencing the first ending didn’t change that. Nor did it when I saw the second or… third. Even after a huge community effort to seek out the “true” endings, requiring the player to jump through an unreasonable number of hoops to activate, I just found myself staring at the screen afterwards, not because I didn’t “get it” as much as the feeling that there was nothing to get, outside of some free publicity via frustrated Youtubers.

In that regard, maybe Asemblance should be considered a success, accomplishing the only thing it seemingly ever really cared to do – get people talking.

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