We knew going in that the promise of Sony's cheaper PlayStation VR headset meant that the graphical output was going to be inferior to that of its competition. Even with this knowledge, some of the titles have been shockingly unimpressive. It's easier to work around the headset's lower specs when using abstract art styles that don't imitate reality. So, when a game does try and imitate reality, things look quite a bit less impressive. And this is one of the many problems The Assembly has.
A first-person puzzle game, this is pretty standard fare. As a virtual reality launch title, it's perfectly adequate we suppose, but it's unlikely that you'll have any interest in returning to it down the road. One of the most important things for VR is to consider whether or not the game actually benefits from being in VR. And after spending the four hours it took to beat, we've decided that in the case of The Assembly, that answer is a resounding no.
This is why the game is in VR, though: it would be wholly unremarkable if it weren't. There is nothing in this game that would really set it apart from anything else, or make it memorable – other than the fact that it's a VR game.
It's a game that sees you assume the roles of two different characters, one – Caleb Pearson – being an employee of this vague, mysterious group referred to as "The Assembly", while the other – Madeleine Stone –undergoes "trials" as part of the hiring process at the site. While overseeing Madeleine's trials, Caleb begins to uncover some unethical research problems in relation to a strain of a killer virus. Most of the narrative is actually rather vague, and it's unlikely that you'll find yourself particularly engaged with the story; the plot isn't bad per se, but it's not very good either.
Caleb's portion of the game is more of an adventure game, as you uncover all sorts of information pertaining to this research as you try and take your leave from the facility. Madeleine's portion of the game is where all of the puzzles come into play. Well, all five of them. Shockingly, none of them are even especially challenging, with obvious solutions telegraphed by the game. To be fair, they are actually kind of fun – especially one where the goal is to get all of the synapses of several artificial brains firing – but they never really push your mind to truly work. And simply put, there are not enough of them. For a puzzle game, we were really looking for more, er, puzzles.
Possibly the biggest problem with the game though is just how it looks. If you've seen footage of the PC version of The Assembly before, you'd know that it looks pretty good. Not incredible mind you, but still pretty good. This is not the case with the PSVR version. Some of the textures look nice here and there, and the character animations are impressively fluid, but overall the game looks like it's about two or three console generations behind. This game in particular feels like a much greater step backwards in visual quality than many of the other VR experiences that we've seen. In fact, the graphics are so poor at times, that it can cause some VR sickness.
It's actually really strange, because the sickness doesn't stem from motion. Instead, the act of merely looking at things just happened to induce nausea on occasion. There's a lot of text-based reading in this game, and considering how poor it looks, this caused us some real problems. Even with the game in sharp focus, text is a bit challenging to read, and it made it hard to play for long stretches of time.
PlayStation VR's tracking problems are on full display in this title, too, as we found screen jittering was rather frequent and head-tracking was problematic. We played at multiple times of day to see if natural light or any other characteristic had an impact, and the game was equally problematic in all times of day. Rebooting the PS4 entirely seemed to reduce the issue, however.
The Assembly isn't bad, but it's not good either. It's a puzzle game without enough puzzles, and a pretty forgettable plot. A massive downgrade from the PC version of the title, the visuals can induce headaches or nausea if played for too long, and this is made even worse by the fact that the game doesn't need to be in virtual reality to begin with. It's a title that's cynically riding on the coattails of VR novelty, and while that may make for smart business, it doesn't create a great experience.
I played a bit of this on Oculus and the voice acting was so bad for what they were trying to pull off. Is that still the case?
Shame, it looked like it had potential.
Ahh well, if you'll excuse me I've got to get my rhythm violence on.
I wanna see a review for Wayward Sky. The demo intrigued me but I'm still not sure.
Also, Loading Human. I want a good story driven VR experience. Can't wait for Robinson The Journey, Farpoint and Psychonauts. And I'm also super stoked for that F-Zero/Wipeout like futuristic racer Radial G. Which actually has cylindrical tube tracks just like F-Zero! Oh, and Trackmania Turbo, Moto Racer 4 (possibly) and definitely Ace Combat 7! Resident Evil 7 demo was amazing but I hated how demonic it was. I don't mind scary or zombies but the game has just gone all out evil (which, contrary to its name has never been like this before).
@JaxonH Reviews of both those games forthcoming.
seems like the WII all over again quick cash in with waggy movements added for no reason & the kinect move games that cashed in as well.
This will kill VR off.
Dont get me wrong would like it to succeed. I can understand why people like it.
But a huge complaint is that like me there are lots of people that it wont work for. 3d movies 3ds all don't work as I dont have level vision. Same as VR but unless you try it or see reviews from reviewers that have the same issue. None of the vr maker's seem to point this out. Or fogging of glasses etc.
@get2sammyb Eh, yes and no. The voice work isn't exactly amazing, but it's not very good either haha. Like a lot of the game, it's just adequate.
@Anguspuss Without an official solution for stuff like that at present, I'd recommend checking out r/PSVR on Reddit. I've definitely seen multiple posts about fogging glasses, so that would at least for now, definitely be a good means of discussing problems of that nature!
@gbanas92 The glasses aren't an issue for me as it just wont work for me with or without. But im a firefighter over 10 years & when potential recruits came for physical & claustrophobia tests. The tests had to carried out carrying our equipment. But as they couldn't use the air cylinders the masks would fog up really quickly. But this should have been addressed before these all reached market. There are various things try I live in north pole so heat humidity isnt an issue for me.
But they should all state if you have lazy eye defective non binocular vision you should try before spending a load of moneyj
@Anguspuss That's a fair point. I don't think I've ever actually seen those issues discussed in an official capacity before, and it certainly sounds like something that should be!
All the games I've played so far I've found myself soon forgetting about the poor graphics because I get so wrapped up in the immersion and simply the pure fun I'm having. Driveclub is a great example, it looks absolutely awful but cheese and rice is just so fun. I've been so close to buying this but I think I'm gonna give it a miss now
@gbanas92 This game is going on sale on PSN for 9.99 today. Would you be more forgiving of its flaws at this price point, or do you still think the problems would outweigh the potential enjoyment it can offer in vr?
@Rob_230 It depends on how desperate you are for new VR content. If it weren't $30 it certainly would've seemed less like a cash grab. It still wouldn't have been a good game, but it would have been a little easier to live with some of the flaws. If there's nothing left for you to play on VR, then I'd say go for it, but if there are other cheaper VR titles you're still interested in, I'd say prioritize those.
@gbanas92 Thanks Graham! I get my Vr on Tuesday so have a handful of other games to play (farpoint, until dawn, batman, psychonaughts, rez, thumper etc) so i might give this a pass for now in that case!
@Rob_230 Awesome! Welcome to the club! (It's freakin awesome haha). I can think of several titles you didn't mention that I would 100% recommend before The Assembly! Which if you find you're looking for more stuff, just ask! (Don't wanna presume and force more selections on you haha)
@gbanas92 Thanks Graham always welcome more recommendations.
I should add that I picked up the danganronpa and spiderman demos, job simulator, bound, and volume coda as a result of the cross-buy promotion when I got the game for my vita. I also have rise of the tomb raider and tekken 7, although not getting my hopes up for those 2 in vr! Will get resident evil 7 too of course.... If im brave enough Haha lots to work through - im just so excited that I want as much as possible.
Super excited about the new opportunities and possibilities afforded by vr and can't wait to start playing. Truly feel it will transform my views on what is possible from the medium.
@Rob_230 Yeah, I definitely agree with the "I just want as many unique experiences as possible with this technology" mindset haha. Luckily there's a wide variety of free things to mess around with. The free Call of Duty VR mission is quite cool, even if you don't care about COD. I'd also say Allumette. It's a free short film, and it's just a nice little thing to have.
And then for games worth buying not on your list already (glad Thumper's already on that list haha. I love it so much!), I would recommend adding GNOG! It's a really fun, puzzle game, with incredible visuals and sound design. For a nice little narrative heavy game, Fated: The Silent Oath is cheap and cool! Tumble VR is another cool cheaper puzzle title. If you like sports games, I think RIGS is still the best AAA VR game there is so far. Its online community has struggled to stay relevant, but it's been reinvigorated by sales occasionally.
And then if the price is right, VR Worlds is worth it for the variety of experiences! London Heist is short but amazing, and Ocean Descent is one of my go-to's for showing off VR to people unfamiliar with games! Hope that helps!
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