The latest title by Bad Yolk Games is finally heading out of early access after around seven months. The bot building simulator Main Assembly that allows you to explore your wildest creative dreams is finally launching as a full game, and to mark the occasion, we've spent a while checking out what it brings to the table.
Considering this is an indie robot builder, there is no defining story. You are a Drone capable of designing, engineering, and building whatever contraption you can conjure up in your creative mind, and the goal is to simply make sure the robot you design can complete the objectives of a level, or that it actually works in a base sense. That's the catch really. Main Assembly basically pits your own creativity against logic, and asks you, "can you turn the craziest idea into a functioning robot?"
In terms of the building mechanics on offer, Main Assembly brings a diverse system that gives you the option to develop a contraption in pretty much any shape or size. There are plenty of components to play around with, each with unique properties such as motors or various wheels, and then on top of that, you can build chassis into whichever shape and size you so desire by bending and connecting plates and joints together. On the surface there is very little limiting your designs, but making the robot function is equally important.
Doing this will mean exploring the programmable systems that feature the most basic sense of electrical engineering. You won't need to remember all those terms from high school science, but you will have to figure out and get to grips with the basic logic behind how your robots run. Fundamentally, this can mean connecting inputs and outputs for the most simple result, but the more you play and the more skilled you become, this system can develop to be really complex to benefit your wild designs.
With this being said, and as much as it might seem like it, Main Assembly is not a complicated game at all. The many tutorials available will slowly coach you through the systems so you can figure out everything without so much of a worry. You'll then be encouraged to challenge yourself to build something a little more complex, and with every baby step of learning, you'll become a better engineer within the game. The experiences you gather from the many tutorial levels become crucial in the Challenge mode that plays very similarly, and asks you to construct a bot to complete a variety of simple goals, such as; pass through checkpoints, knock over dummies, jump over a small gap. The beauty of Main Assembly is that it never tasks you with something too difficult and because of this the game always feels rewarding to play.
Aside from the tutorials and the Challenge mode, both of which are quite packed with things to do, there is also a Sandbox mode to play around in completely unhinged, as well as the vicious Bot Battle mode. Sandbox lets you not only construct robots but also the world itself, meaning you could build a racetrack to drive a car around in, or even something much bigger should you have the creativity to do so. Bot Battle on the other hand, is a Robot Wars type of mode, where you create a robot and then fight other players for a shot at victory in an arena packed with environmental hazards.
One of our favourite aspects of Main Assembly is the many different ways you can build robots. We've mentioned cars, but why stop there? You can take to the skies by building a UFO, design a tank with a working gun, or even construct a creepy spider-bot inspired by H.G. Wells War of the Worlds. The point is, if you can create a design and have the skill to actually programme it within Main Assembly's systems, there really isn't anything stopping you in this game.
The problem with this design is that it can quickly become a little boring when you don't have a defined direction to follow. There is only so much bot designing you can do before you feel creatively tapped out, at least that was the case for us. Considering there is no pressure in this game at all, and you never feel pushed to complete something, we often lacked that drive to really push our boundaries to create something new. With this being said, the programmable and designing systems within Main Assembly would make for a great starting point in introducing young engineers into the CAD program, as this is quite alike a very basic version of that software.
For what it's worth, Main Assembly is an incredibly well designed game that gives players the tools to explore their own creativity. The world is easy to adapt to, and the designing programmes are never overwhelming, we just can't see ourselves spending hours and hours absorbed into this game. However, if you are a doting engineer, someone with an affinity for robotic design, or maybe even just a Kerbal Space Program fan, then Main Assembly is a game that will probably fill you to your heart's content.
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