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The Assembly hands-on: The future of VR is adventure games

Hayden Dingman | July 1, 2016
Adventure games may have fallen out of popularity in recent years, but virtual reality reinvigorates the genre.

That disappointment aside, it’s a competently-made adventure game. Cal’s episodes focus mostly on corporate espionage. He’s looking to turn whistleblower, so you’re focused on gathering evidence against the Assembly—digging through file cabinets, trying to find keys someone hid in a bookshelf, standard adventure game stuff. Unfortunately it also means “reading a lot of in-game emails,” which is fine except the Rift still isn’t great for looking at text. I struggled a bit there.

The Assembly

Madeleine’s episodes are way different. She’s being inducted to The Assembly and thus her chapters are a battery of mental testing, like MENSA puzzles in three-dimensions. Some are great—the last chapter of my demo involved a murderous-dinner-party-as-allegory, and rendered in a fascinating way. Other chapters feel a bit like VR gimmicks though, particularly her second test which is just “Move these boxes around in VR.” It almost feels like you can tell which chapters were developed very early in VR’s lifecycle and which are more recent, though that’s just my own biases talking.

In any case, navigation is done by way of teleporting, same as most of these new-era VR adventure games. It’s not a node system—you’re not constrained to certain areas. Instead it’s the standard “look-where-you-want-to-go-and-teleport-there” method. There’s also a free-roam method if you have a better stomach than me.

Which brings me to one other crucial aspect: There are some scenes early in the game I think should be reworked, but I don’t think will be. They involve you in a wheelchair or something, being pushed along by someone else. I didn’t get sick, but I did close my eyes at one point as the world went madly sliding past. In a game that’s so careful about keeping the player comfortable the rest of the time—that’s what teleportation is for—these scenes seem out of place.

The Assembly’s hooked me though, Xbox Controller and all. Ever since wrapping up The Gallery and Dead Secret I’ve been waiting for another polished and meaty adventure game to release. This looks to be the next big one, and I’m curious to see where it goes. It’s dated for a July 19 release.

 

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