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About the Story
Today has been an extraordinarily long day. You picked up the keys to your new apartment in the morning, you went shopping for furniture in the afternoon, and you've spent the evening putting it together.
And you're almost finished -- there's one box left.
ASSEMBLY is a story of magic and adventure. Can you assemble a small table? Can you save the world from the vengeance of ancient gods?
Content warning: supernatural themes and mild peril
Number of Reviews: 11
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There’s an old chestnut in adventure games: the recipe. You’ve got to make a magic potion, and you have a recipe, and now you have to first collect the ingredients and then follow the steps of the recipe exactly… and you’ll get the potion. I’m pretty sure King’s Quest has that kind of stuff. Or maybe it’s a real recipe that you’re trying to make, as in Savoir-Faire. It’s not very engaging – usually the real gameplay is getting the ingredients, or getting things ready, and then actually following the recipe is more a little task you need to get out of the way before you get the reward. You don’t want too many of such tasks in your game. It bogs things down.
So it’s bold to build a game that is all about following instructions! Assembly is such a game, although its not recipes we’re following, but IKEA instruction manuals. It’s like having little walkthroughs in the game, telling you how to construct, and also deconstruct, many of the objects you meet. Our protagonist is good at following such rules. Indeed, they’re incredibly bad at not following rules, being unable to unscrew a light bulb without an instruction manual showing them how to do it.
This could have been very boring, but Assembly keeps the instructions short, gives us frequent rewards for successful assembly and disassembly, and, especially, gives us a series of nice puzzles around these mechanics. This is no doubt the only game where finding an IKEA instruction manual feels good – although, come to think of it, All the Troubles Come My Way has this too, so scrap that. The puzzles are good, starting with some simple ones, moving on to slightly more difficult (Spoiler - click to show)(such as the lamp puzzle), and ending with one that is both simple and over-the-top and yet completely logical, applying IKEA logic to IKEA itself, giving us the comic reward we deserved.
Well, I guess it ends with one that went the least smoothly for me, (Spoiler - click to show)because I didn’t realise there was a flatpack box in my location, and it felt a little bit like a regression after the great scene with the collapsing stacks… but that’s a nitpick. This game is fun and light-hearted. There are some Elder Gods involved, but it never goes to dark places… at least, not to dark places you can’t illuminate with a good STRÅLA.
This game is a box of good ideas.
All of the puzzles revolve around following IKEA instruction manuals in interesting ways. They don't test your general puzzle-solving skills but rather how well you understand the logic of the world. If you're able to internalize it, solving the puzzles feels effortless.
Every eureka moment I had deepened my appreciation of this game. It understood and exploited the greatest strength of text-only games: the ability to conjure up truly strange images. The fact it was all my doing made it better. And I also thought the gimmick didn't wear out its welcome either; it was explored just enough to feel satisfying and to keep the narrative moving forward.
While the game was never going to focus on the story, the writing and the action were quite engaging. I was curious about the world and the tantalizing little details we got seem to evoke a larger cosmology.
Assembly is a humble work of genius. For such a simple conceit, the game unfolds in so many surprising ways and I can't stress enough how clever the game is. It's a clean and refined game that's easy to get into unlike the furniture it's inspired by.
This game is very, very fun. I liked the creating of different objects in certain places to get past obstacles, and the weird cultists! When writing this, I admit I haven’t finished, but I did have to use hints. It was a very fun idea, and I plan to finish it.
Song: A mix of 2+2=5 and Fake Plastic Trees’ music video. The cluttered idea of “two plus two always makes up five” has the weird contraption jumble of the game, and I have to admit I wasn’t “paying attention” for much of the game. The music video for Fake Plastic Trees has that shop vibe, and it starts quite happy, so that’s why.
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