Assembly Required

Some people love going to Ikea, some people hate it. I’m probably in the former camp, as I always pick some stuff up that I never knew I needed until I saw it. The downside is obviously traversing a labyrinthine building, walking through multiple bedroom displays while trying to resist the temptation of napping on the beds. This is where the indie game Assembly Required comes in. If you’re well versed in the ways of Ikea, then you’re probably quite suited to the game. In it, you have to build your own version of the Swedish superstore, tailoring areas to four different subgroups of people that enter your shop.

Who doesn’t love DIY?

You have a lot of moving pieces in Assembly Required. It’s not just a simple job of tossing together some junk and hope people buy it. Before you even place any items down, you have to choose a boss to help lead your shop to glory. There are a handful of bosses that you can hire, each with perks that offer bonuses to certain aspects of gameplay. Then, you also have staff members to hire that keep the shop ticking over, who all have different attributes to further enhance your shop. This does come at a cost – as no-one works for free after all – and balancing the finances can be a real challenge. You’ll always need to be adapting your shop to your customers, but also trying to ensure you’ve got enough staff to grow your shop and make it better.

Creating the shop itself can be a bit of a challenge in Assembly Required as well. You’ll get four lines that go from the entrance of your shop, to the exit. Place some displays in some places and perhaps the elderly patrons of your shop will wander over that way, but everyone else will ignore them. Or maybe you’ll plop down a few different displays, attracting all of your patrons down a pathway. The only issue here is if you make it too narrow, people might get in eachother’s way and ignore it. Putting a decent maze together to keep your customers trapped for as long as possible, while still having enough to keep them interested definitely makes this game fun to play through.

Missing pieces

There does appear to be some parts missing from Assembly Required – most notably a decent tutorial. While there is some basic bits, there is nothing advanced, and quite frequently even during the tutorial I wasn’t overly sure what I was supposed to do. It also doesn’t really set you up for the actual game, and after I started, I had no clue what I needed to do in order to progress the game.

It may be me, but I did struggle a little – or a lot – with the messages in game as well. While they may be fine on a smaller screen, or playing it at 800×600, playing it on a modern computer (ie, not one from the late 90s), means that the message boxes are tiny and extremely easy to miss. There were a few times where I was clicking on things, expecting to perform an action, only to realise that hidden away in the bottom 5% of my screen was a tutorial message telling me to click where I was clicking, but only after I’d dismissed the message.

The Final Word

Assembly Required is a decent game, but the lack of real direction or information in the tutorial makes it quite a slog to play through. It’s still quite fun, but there are some flaws that do need to be fixed. The developers do seem quite keen and proactive, releasing a patch the day after Christmas to improve the game, so I do think that given time, this game will realise it’s full potential, but it’s currently a little way off.

6/10

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