Last year I played Reassembly as part of my Extra Life marathon and realized that I never got around to writing a review for one of my favorite games of last year. Better late than never I guess.
Reassembly can be broken into two distinct parts that influence each other immensely. There’s the part where you play and the part where you build.
Reassembly is, at its core, an original Asteroids style shooter where the player controls a vector graphic spacecraft’s thrusters with the W,A,S,D keys, and the craft’s attitude and weapon’s reticule with the mouse. The game has gamepad support so you can substitute analog sticks for the mouse and keyboard, but I found this method a bit too muddy. One of the most interesting aspects of the core gameplay in Reassembly, which can be broken down to fly around, shoot stuff, loot the wreckage, is the feeling of speed and the danger that comes with it that the relatively simple graphics convey. It’s amazing what a little screen pan, coupled with good sound design, can do to make you feel like you’re blasting off for parts unknown. The feeling of danger may also come from my constantly crashing into asteroids and enemy ships, though.
Speaking of enemy ships, you’ll find a lot of those in Reassembly. Every time you load into a new game the map of space is procedurally generated including enemy faction’s territory. If you happen to venture too far into enemy space the massive ship variety of Reassembly will quickly become apparent just about the time your explodes.There are currently seventeen factions in Reassembly distinguished from one another by the basic building blocks used to create their ships. Each enemy faction will attempt to spread its influence as far as possible across space by building a fleet of ships and destroying you and each other.
The part of Reassembly where you build your fleet is where the game really shines, but also where it can be slightly irritating. As I mention above every new game of Reassembly is a challenge of enemy factions who are constantly gathering resources and building bigger and bigger fleets of ships to challenge you. The way players defend themselves is by doing the same thing. The as you fly around, exploring the galaxy and blowing stuff up, you’re also gathering resources that you can use to upgrade your ship. You can also spend resources to tag friendly ships as part of your fleet. Eventually you can upgrade your ship to a factory and build your own fleet. Tinkering with the designs of ships and the makeup of your fleet is on of the joys Reassembly. It’s also the most annoying thing about the game. There’s a fairly steep learning curve when first using the ship editor and the game’s UI can be fairly dense and difficult to read. These two drawbacks are easily forgotten, though, once you finally get your main ship set up just the way you like it and have a fleet of twenty or so support ships following you as you fly through hostile space leaving destruction in your wake.
Reassembly also shines in replay ability. Every time you destroy an faction’s capital ship in game you unlock that faction as a playable faction. Couple all those ship styles to play with a truly awesome atmospheric soundtrack, and online competitive play and you’ve got a game that will keep you busy for quite some time.