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Game Review of Antichamber

Posted February 6, 2013 by Esteban Cuevas in Reviews

As I was making my way through Antichamber, I came across a big, empty room and didn’t know what to do next. This wasn’t new for me as the various puzzles in this game take time to figure out. I noticed a hole in the ceiling so I looked up and it said ‘Don’t look down’. I looked down and the floor blinked at me. This freaked me out and I jumped back to where I was. When I turned around and looked back, the floor had disappeared completely. I had to take a break as my mind struggled to comprehend what had just happened and that is when I realized that I had never played a game like Antichamber.

The premise is simple. You are in the Antichamber and you need to make your way through by solving various mind bending puzzles. Many of the puzzles deal with your perception of reality. Sometimes walking backwards changes where you can go or looking at something closely changes where you’re at. All of the puzzles take time to figure out and at first, you’ll be so stumped that you may give up. When I first played Antichamber, I stopped after 10 minutes, shrugged and decided that I just didn’t understand the game. However, I tried it again and after some time, you get a feel for the game.

Littered around the Antichamber are these panels that when clicked on give you a vague hint on what you need to do next. Aside from this, there is no tutorial or help for going through the game. Experimentation is the only way to figure out what you’re doing. You can only interact with things, jump, move around and later, distribute blocks so there isn’t much for you to do but that’s why you’ll try things like staring at something and walking instead of running. This game will teach you to think differently about the world around you and these skills you learn will help you later on in the game.

The appeal of Antichamber is the desire to understand this place that you’re in. Like the best puzzle and adventure games, realizing how to solve an obstacle in front of you is invigorating. Realizing that you need to go back rather than move forward in one of the earliest puzzles is a great example. Adding to this are the environments, which look so clinical and clean, it feels inhuman and at times, scary. Such is the way that people respond to the unknown. In that way, Antichamber is a celebration of comprehension, as the world becomes less intimidating as you continue on and understand the world.

At any time during the game, you can press Escape and return to the room the game begins in. Here you can change settings, look at the control configuration and check on a clock that counts down from an hour and a half. From what I can tell, it doesn’t mean anything other than the game can be completed in under that time. Your play time will vary, though I’ve seen the game completed in under a half an hour. Also in this room, you can choose which rooms you’ve previously been in you can teleport to. Since you can access this starter room at anytime, you can restart or retry various puzzles you’ve come across whenever you like.

The graphics resemble Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher’s work as most of the world is white with black lines shaping corridors and rooms. Throughout the world are various bright colors that are used to identify differences in rooms or areas and serve to accentuate various places. There are some abstract objects as well that when combined with the color palette, are strange but intriguing. The level design is almost incomprehensible as I can’t understand how the removal of items that once was there was technically possible. It’s a technical achievement as well as an essential component of the game. Sound is kept to a minimum with ambient music that helps giving the game as sense of desolation.

Antichamber gives an experience no other game released is offering. It changes how you think about puzzles in a way no other game has. It has its own logic that you must learn. Truth be told, this kind of experience won’t appeal to some people and you do need to be in the mood to play this game. Accessibility issues aside, if you are a gamer who can appreciate more obtuse experiences that not only blow your mind but expand what a game experience could be, both thematically and technically, give Antichamber a try. You won’t regret it. Or you might if you buy it backwards or if the floor winks at you or something. I don’t know. After playing Antichamber, I only see in monochrome now.

Final Score:

4 out of 5


About the Author

Esteban Cuevas

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