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Antichamber (PC) artwork

Antichamber (PC) review

"A brain-buster for sometimes the wrong reasons, this puzzler is still worth your time."

A game like Antichamber should not be played by people like myself; games that have puzzles that go beyond merely logic, reasoning, memorization or problem solving and into the realm of beating your head against it until a solution reveals itself do not sit entirely well with me. This is more an issue with myself than those types of games for sure, but while Antichamber does take a couple of cues from Portal, this title is a drastically different experience that, while at times went way over my head, I can still recommend to people who want a puzzler that's different from your Trines or Professor Laytons or Mysts.

I'm really the wrong demographic for this kind of game, but Antichamber's advertising suckered me in since I wanted an exploration-based puzzle game in similar veins to La-Mulana; puzzles that were made to crush lesser minds. While I did get that vibe and happily did so, Antichamber sometimes felt like it could get away with whatever it wanted and did so with crossed arms and shrugged shoulders to the player. The Steam store page does say, quote, 'Antichamber is a mind-bending psychological exploration game where nothing can be taken for granted. Discover an Escher-like world where hallways wrap around upon each other, spaces reconfigure themselves, and accomplishing the impossible may just be the only way forward'. 'Accomplishing the impossible' may sound quite romantic to a player thinking about buying the game, but there are some cases where the impossible is possible, it just requires a ridiculous solution. To talk about these cases would just be absolute shameful spoilers and would take away from your experience, but the big pro tip here is that just when you think you've tried absolutely everything and are ready to give up, you actually haven't tried absolutely everything and need to try again. Not every puzzle in Antichamber is this 'impossible', as for a majority of the game your challenges are quite tame; blocks, switches, platforming, interacting with the environment, toying with some anomaly that's keeping you from progressing... Many of these can be solved just through expirimentation, trial and error or simple application of your brain, and for quite some time you can chug through the game at a steady rate, only meeting major opposition when you near the end of the game - And I mean major. Again, perhaps I'm the wrong kind of person for this kind of game, but at some point I ran up against puzzles where just nothing clicked and I found myself spinning my wheels in perpetual defeat, and that's where my enjoyment of the game took a heavy drop.

What kept me from really getting sour on the game is that at just about any time you can return to the main 'hub' room where you can look at a map of the 'facility' (players have insinuated there's a story some kind, but there's no plot in Antichamber at all) and then teleport elsewhere. This means that you can zip around the game and try assaulting a puzzle again or from a different angle, never being stuck against just one challenge forever until you complete it. This is an absolute god-send of a feature, and one that no doubt has kept many players (including myself) from quitting the game with a bitter aftertaste. It's also incredibly useful since you can stumble upon shortcuts or alternate exits everywhere that will take you all over the place, sometimes not quite in the direction you wanted to go. If you keep hallway-wrapping into a room you've visited or accidentally fall off a bridge that melts if you're looking at it, being able to warp back and try again keeps frustration down to a minimum, especially when you're trying to find the matter 'guns' to further manipulate blocks that you need for switches, platforms or other impede your progress.

The 'guns' is the aforementioned cue from Portal, and how they help you get around the game is the other. Again, to talk in detail about the puzzles you'll encounter would be shameful spoilers, but each new gun upgrade you find unlocks that much more of the game, with a myriad of possible solutions and new challenges to run into, which is a good feeling of constantly asking yourself 'what's next?' when you unlock this door or find a way past this chasm. You'll be looking forward to the next puzzle and not to the designs of the rooms as a whole since the game's sterile white environment at times feels just downright oppressive on the eyes, save for the splashes of bold, full colors that are strangely relieving when mixed in with the 'music' that is nothing but ambiance noises that I feel were designed to keep the player as relaxed as possible when hopping around the game trying to figure out a new solution. Color doesn't play any sort of theme like in Okami, but it does serve as something to take hold of your attention and to differentiate one route from another to avoid confusion.

While it sounds like I haven't had the greatest time with Antichamber, I walked away from it (and completed it) quite satisfied with the experience I had, and some minor technical hiccups like major frame-rate hitches during transitions and broken floor geometry were just that - Hiccups. Antichamber brings to the table a wildly different kind of puzzle game that sometimes can feel like it's cheating in order to challenge you, but overcoming these challenges brings personal accomplishment that is its own high. My overall enjoyment of the game left something to be desired, but I can still happily recommend Antichamber to those looking for a puzzle game that doesn't follow conventional rules.

Dinoracha's avatar
Community review by Dinoracha (February 07, 2016)

Dinoracha is a world-renowned internet famous Let's Player, voice actor, writer, reviewer, e-sports competitor, masterful stream host and man of the people. These may or may not all be gross exaggerations.

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