I’d never heard of nDreams before my appointment to check out an unannounced VR title on Oculus Rift. A quick search showed them as being – at least until now – largely focused on PlayStation Home, where the company has made its name. nDreams’ Wikipedia page also mentions Venus Redemption, a game the company was supposed to be working on targeting the oft-ignored female gaming audience. That project seems to be on hold for now, though, as nDreams has shifted its focus squarely onto Virtual Reality platforms.
The Assembly, they explained, is about a modern, trendy, secret, cult-like organization – “Think Google if it was a cult” – bent on bettering humanity’s chances through ethically-questionable science. You’ll play as two characters, switching perspectives between chapters. One is a member of the cult, the other is a victim of its experiments, offering both perspectives, and, at least in theory, some fun and tough moral quandaries.
The demo nDreams had on hand was a short 3-ish minute scene with the female character, who has been kidnapped by The Assembly. You strap on the Oculus, grab the controller, hit “go” and you’ll find yourself strapped down to a gurney, being rolled through hospital-like hallways. You can look around freely with the Oculus, allowing you to look into rooms as you pass by, crane your neck far enough, and you can see the frame of the gurney beneath you, or just look straight up at the passing lights. It’s a great introduction to Oculus, as it demonstrates the head tracking technology quite well, even if it is still a little nauseating at times.
You’ll wake up locked in a room with a bed, sink, cabinets, and an alarm blaring, warning you of a gas leak. The Assembly isn’t an action game by any stretch. It’s a “VR adventure experience.” You can take your time examining everything in the room until you eventually put the pieces together to solve the puzzle and unlock the door. It’s simplistic to say the least, but it’s something like a beginner’s guide to VR, this time teaching you the importance of smooth motions when you’re using a controller. I made the mistake of spinning around far too quickly when I was first examining the room, which was far worse than any roller coaster I’ve been on.
I can get behind the concept of The Assembly – nDreams hopes to have it available as a launch title for both Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus – a slow-paced puzzle adventure in Virtual Reality, designed more for the story than the action. The demo was far too brief, and the story is yet to be revealed to any real extent, though, so I can’t say quite yet how it’s going to shape up. The story is being written by Tom Jubert of FTL and other titles, which is a good start. Additionally, I’m told the game is broken into chapters designed to be playable in shorter chunks, so even if you can only handle VR in short bursts, you’ll still be able to enjoy The Assembly.
If you like VR and point-and-click adventures, you’ll do well to keep an eye out for more information on The Assembly. It’s not going to be the next big thing, but it might just satisfy a market that, to my knowledge, nobody else is catering to just yet.