Review: Antichamber

Posted by: 2/4/2013

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As you walk around the world of Antichamber, the new non-euclidean first person puzzle game, you begin to realize how unique of a game it is.  The first time you are transported to a new area after looking through an intricate design, you understand that this is unlike any game released. While some games that take the ultra-unique approach fall on their face, Antichamber embraces its uniqueness all the way to the end and succeeds  This excellent puzzle game will have you questioning your every step, and how exactly the world is changing around you.

This indie game, developed by Alexander Bruce, drops you in a room with no clear objectives other than get out. The first room you start in is the main hub. When you press escape, you’re taken to this room regardless of where you are in the game. On the walls in this hub you will find a map showing where you have been in the world, the controls and settings for the game, and a wall of drawings that you find through your adventure. These drawings will give players hints and also help players with some of the simple mechanics of the game. This is all Antichamber gives the player. From there you must figure you everything on your own.

Each puzzle in Antichamber has its own specific challenge to it, and sometimes the same puzzle can change the next time you come across it. Antichamber will have players constantly guessing what to do and where to go next. The game will give the player some hints on where to go by using color and sound, but even then it can be difficult to decide on which path to take. Backtracking is another prevalent feature of Antichamber, but not in the negative sense. With the world changing around the player constantly, backtracking doesn’t feel like a chore. Plus with the ability to jump into any room the player has visited previously, it is easy to return to a previous area to solve a puzzle.

As the game progresses, you come across some items that will help you solve certain puzzles. The first item that you are able to use is this handheld block mover. Some people may think it is similar to the Portal gun or Gravity gun from Half-Life, but it functions quite differently. When you pick up a block, it stores it in an inventory of sorts inside the gun. This allows you to pick up certain blocks in the game and use the blocks to open doors, make ladders to climb on, and other uses. One complaint that I have with the block mover is that later in the game, there are abilities these items possess that the game does not make you aware of. This complaint extends into other areas of the game. Sometimes Antichamber does not let the player know what you can and can not do in the world. It adds to the mysterious nature of the world you are traversing, but in the end it just feels like poor game design.

At first Antichamber is a simple looking game. With its white interiors, there is not much to look at. But once you start to get into the meat of the game, you realize how gorgeous it looks. With its use of a white clean look mixed with blues, reds, and greens, it is reminiscent of a 80’s sci-fi film.

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One thing that Antichamber has over other puzzle games is that it has a high replay factor. With each puzzle being unique and challenging, it is easy to forget how to solve those simple puzzles in the beginning. Even as I sit here writing this review, I have a hard time remembering how to solve some puzzles that took place in the middle of the game. It will take a person about three to four hours to play through the Antichamber the first time around.

Antichamber is a fantastic game. The level design is very unique to puzzle games, the puzzles are very challenging yet rewarding once beaten, and the game has a very simple yet clean look to it. It is a game that must be experienced by the player, it can not really be described in a meaningful way. This non-euclidean puzzle game will have your head hurting, will have you frustrated, but smiling and enjoying yourself.

Score 9/10

Antichamber was developed by Alexander Bruce and published by Demruth for the PC on January 31st. A retail copy of the game was provided to us by Demruth for reviewing purposes.

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