Social deduction games have had something of a boon in recent years and Assimilate! is one of the most recent ones to be released. It’s a 5-10 player game which requires an internet device to play on and an additional 25 players can observe and sway the scores. There are moments of fun here but prepare for some confusion too.
Of the 5-10 players in the actual game, there are three roles to assume in this Humans Vs Robot’s game – Human, Robot and Programmer. Each round sees a set of 20 passwords placed on the main TV screen and all the humans and the single programmer are sent the same single password from that selection to their device. Humans then have to describe it with three clues without making it really obvious which one of the 20 passwords on the screen they are calling out. The robot doesn’t get anything through at all. Instead, the programmer has to send just one clue through to the robot, which the robot sees and they have to place their clue into the mix based off that single clue. At the end of this phase, one clue randomly chosen from every human is shown on the screen next to their player name, alongside the clue from the programmer and robot. A discussion phase is then meant to take place as players (and the observers in the audience) can vote on who they think the programmer and robot are. After three rounds of this, your final choice is converted into points and is enough people guess correctly, the humans win. If not enough guess correctly, the robot wins.
From a technical standpoint, the devices and service ran smoothly. I liked that there are options to boot inactive players and also rejoin under your old names if you lose connection. It’s just as well as a couple of times the browser would seem to hang, especially on older android phones. Whilst the core gameplay is fine and does offer up a few laughs, it was also a little complicated to explain to non-gamers. This isn’t helped by how the scoring system is conveyed on screen, which had a lot of us baffled. At no point should games be trying to show whose won and lost by giving goals minus points and then declaring them the winners, even if that’s not what the game is trying to say. We also found the counters ran down to zero even if everyone had put in answers well before and just found the overall experience to be a little disengaged. Lastly, Jackbox 6 and 8 have social deduction games as part of those packs and whilst this does things slightly differently, it does make it more tricky to recommend Assimilate! if you already have those.
Ultimately, we played a few rounds of Assimilate! and found it ok for half an hour and then we’d all wanted to move onto something else. Each game lasts 15 minutes and whilst we’d come back to it in future sessions, it’d always be a quick fire round before moving off it again. I think that is because we all agreed we wanted more customisation of passwords and we wanted to be able to wrap up a game early too. In more sessions than not, the robot is discovered before the final round but you have to continue on regardless and that feels a bit lopsided. Nice idea, just needs a few tweaks to make a full recommendation.
Review copy provided by developer.
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