Antichamber is not a game for everyone. However, for those even passively interested in it: I urge that you set aside an afternoon, buy the game, put on a nice headset (or earphones) and just enjoy the experience. Antichamber is unlike anything else out there and you owe it to yourself to experience this beautiful work of art. The clever and intuitive puzzles, minimalist and striking visuals and the sheer sense of accomplishment with each passing moment make this (already) one of the standout indie game experiences of the year.
From the very beginning you know that you’re not really dealing with a normal game. After the opening logos roll, you’re not even presented with a title menu. Instead, there is a wall with white letters describing the controls that also allows you to tweak several of the game’s fundamental options. If you look around the room you’ll notice an image with a message after clicking, as well as a map. Instead of any type of introductory sequence or tutorial, the game throws you directly into the world – this is a common theme throughout.
There are no enemies to fight, no combat of any kind, no killstreaks or perks or anything like that, simply you traversing a series of wondorous puzzles. The biggest thing I can say about the game that will both describe what it’s like and give you a huge tip is that, for the most part, nothing is what it seems. Seriously. Did you just walk down a flight of stairs and then up another flight that both led you back to the same room? Turn around and go back the way you came – everything is changed.
Following the many puzzles in the game are usually humorous illustrations on the wall along with a piece of advice, such as “Sometimes the hardest step is the first one,” “Some choices leave us running around in circles,” or my favorite, “Life isn’t about getting to the end,” which I found inside a door labeled “Exit” as you can see below.
As I stated at the beginning, nothing is truly as it seems in this game. What looks like a dead end could be something else, what looks like a pit of death may actually be a path to something more and so on and so on. What’s most striking is the game’s subtle and effective uses of color. The majority of objects and rooms are presented in a simplistic mixture of black and white, which makes the bright and beautiful colors of the game stand out so much more.
This isn’t to say that this cerebral journey is pure bliss – it has its problems along the way. The controls aren’t as precise as I would have liked, making some of the more precarious segments a little more frustrating than they should be. I don’t think the game would benefit from more tutorials or hand-holding, but at the same time I do think a large chunk of gamers will be turned off due to the game’s perplexing interface and concept.
There were moments while playing this game that I seriously wanted to smash my head against the keyboard because of a particularly frustrating puzzle. However, every single time, if I took a step back and just thought about it simply, the answer would come to me almost immediately. Ultimately, I found myself enjoying what Antichamber has to offer and travelling through the various rooms never stops to be entertaining, but the best thing about the game is how you feel after you stop playing it. You will often find yourself remembering moments throughout the day, or coming across obstacles in your actual life that can be solved by remembering a puzzle from the game. As odd as that may sound, Antichamber is a game that teaches you not just how to solve puzzles, but it teaches you about life.
Antichamber is one of the most perplexing and wonderful games I have played in a long time. It isn’t often that, when trying to describe a game, I can literally not piece the words together in a clear and direct way. After these 800 some-odd words I may have spent more time describing things I did or the way I felt while playing the game, but that’s really what it’s all about. I don’t know how the situations will make you feel and it can’t be articulated objectively. Antichamber is a work of art that every open-minded gamer ought to play. In the meantime, you can check out a video below where I attempt at showing off some of the game’s interesting moments.
Antichamber is available now for PC and can be downloaded on Steam. Let us know what you think of the game and of this review in the comments below. How did it make you feel?
This review was based on a retail download copy of the game for the PC provided by Demruth.