Assemble with Care
Gameplay 7
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Assemble With Care casts players in the role of Maria, an antique restorer who arrives in the town of Bellariva seeking to finance her travels with some repair jobs. While she finds plenty of unique things to repair, Maria also learns more about her clients and herself in the process. Assemble With Care is a cozy and charming game that lacks any challenge but is still entertaining while it lasts. 

Gameplay: The game is very short and lacks any challenge, but the story is good, and the repairs, as basic as they are, are very satisfying to do.

Graphics: The pastel-colored visuals are very easy on the eyes, and the overall art style of the game is very charming. 

Sound: The music and sound effects are good, but the voice acting is superb for an indie title. 

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Assemble with Care

Developer: ustwo games | Publisher: ustwo games | Release Date: 2020 | Genre: Casual / Puzzle / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

In this age of planned obsolescence, it’s hard to imagine someone being able to finance their world travels by repairing things, but that’s exactly what Maria, the protagonist of Assemble With Care, does. Maria is an antique restorer whose wanderlust caused her to leave behind her parent’s antique store in favor of traveling the world. Assemble With Care opens with Maria arriving in the sun-soaked town of Bellariva, where the residents are gearing up for a food festival. Maria sets out to drum up some business by handing out flyers, but before she knows it, she’s helping people repair more than just their gadgets. 

Assemble With Care is a truly cozy puzzle game meticulously designed to provide a wholesome and relaxing experience. The game is divided into thirteen chapters, each presenting a different item for Maria to repair. These items span from a rotary phone and camera to a music box, projector, and even a neon sign. However, even players who are not very mechanically inclined will find themselves immersed in the soothing atmosphere of the game. 

Each level opens with stylish drawings of Maria and her customers and accompanying narration to explain the situation. Players are then presented with the object that requires repairs along with the necessary tools. These tools are typically a screwdriver for removing screws, some glue to stick things together, and some wires if the object in need of repair is electronic in nature. Each tool and component has a fixed spot on the screen, and players can pick up and rotate every object for a closer look. There are no time limits to worry about, and it’s impossible to mess things up beyond repair. No matter how haphazardly we applied the glue, it never spilled or created a mess, and Maria meticulously stored each screw that was removed in a small bowl. While wires must be connected in the proper configuration, the worst that can happen if done incorrectly is an LED lighting up red instead of green so players can try again. Even delicate components, like the cogs inside a watch, will simply not work until players place them correctly. This means the stakes are very low, and players never have to be afraid of botching any repair job. Unfortunately, it also means that each repair can be done in a matter of minutes, and players will be faced with the end credits at around the two-hour mark.

Visually, Assemble With Care features delightful pastel-colored art that complements the cozy feel of the game. The interludes are static, like the pages of a children’s book, but the artwork is really good, and the character designs are great. Each item that must be repaired only has a limited number of components, but taking them apart and putting them back together is still satisfying. Each repair job is set on a different background, and while these are basic, the inclusion of lights and shadows is a neat touch. The various patterns and shadows also help sell the illusion that Maria is fixing items at different locations during different times of the day. 

According to the developers, the soundtrack was inspired by the sounds of the 1980s, and the music is a great match for the visuals. There’s something nostalgic about fixing things like a handheld console resembling a Game Boy or a slide projector. The sound effects are minimal but decent, while the voice acting is superb. Rebecca LaChance steals the show as Maria’s voice, but the supporting cast delivers solid performances, too. This is important as a central theme of the game is how Maria helps these characters repair their relationships with their loved ones while fixing their items. From assisting a father to reconnect with his daughter after burying himself in his work after the death of his wife to helping two sisters mend their relationship, the characters are memorable and endearing. 

Assemble With Care was initially released on iOS, which means the game was developed with touch controls in mind. The controls work well for the most part, but it is still possible to misclick and put something down instead of rotating it or swapping items instead of combining them. This can be annoying, but players who take their time instead of trying to rush through the repairs shouldn’t encounter too many hassles in this regard. For such a short game, it is also strange that three levels don’t require players to fix anything; instead, they involve packing a suitcase or assembling a camp stove and making soup. If there had been many more repair missions, these levels could have served as a short respite to break things up, but as it is, they feel more like padding in an already short game.  

Overall, Assemble With Care is a charming title that is just the thing for players looking for an evening of cozy, undemanding gaming at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, a large portion of the two hours it takes to complete the game is spent listening to the story, and once completed, the game has no replay value. The developers added a brand new epilogue chapter to the game after its release, which involves helping one of the characters from the game assemble an espresso machine. It’s a little more complicated than the main game’s repairs, but it only adds a few minutes to the experience. Still, considering the reasonable asking price and the feel-good nature of the game, it will definitely find an audience among players who prefer their entertainment stress-free and to the point.  

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS *: Windows 7 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i3
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i5
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 630
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 2 GB available space

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