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Antichamber is a game created by Alexander Bruce. As a first person puzzle game with a lot of white featureless walls, it bears a superficial resemblance to Portal, but differentiates itself pretty quickly. There is no GLaDOS, no artificial distinction between one puzzle and the next, and of course no portal gun.

What you get instead is infinitely more alien. Concepts such as euclidean space and object permanence break down as you progress through the game. In place of a passive-aggressive AI that wants to kill you you get doodles that when clicked provide one sentence life lessons that may or may not be related to the puzzle. As you pass through the game your expectations become more flexible. You no longer think that back tracking will work all of the time and you know that where you look can be as important as where you stand. The environment combines cubist style with Escher's sense of space. Combine this with eclectic sounds (insects chirping, wind blowing, rain falling) randomly interspersed in places leaving the player to wonder where they are as the dissonance between sight and sound scratches at the back of the player's mind.

The result is a zen acid trip that will keep you guessing. A koan become game.

WARNING: this is a Waverider37 review, so... you guessed it, spoilers are happening.

Every journey is a series of choices. The first is to begin the journey.

Antichamber, a game first envisioned in 2006 and released in 2013, is a whacked-out acid trip brainfuck from sadistic minds first-person puzzle game. As the player character, you are put into an antechamber. From there, progress through the halls, corridors and rooms is all up to you to figure out. However, given that the building relies on non-Euclidean geometry and spaces, illusions, instructions that appear after the puzzle has been solved, and basically an attitude of "there-are-no-rules-except-gravity", it's not as easy as anticipated. The only tool at your disposal is a gun (though think "gun" in the same way as the Portal gun) which can pick up, store, and place coloured cubes - it gets more useful as you upgrade it over time. The only other evidence of humans being anywhere near, past or present (well, maybe...) is a series of posters which interchange between a cute little doodle and an inspirational quote.

First tick: it's based on the Unreal engine. That may be a personal preference thing though - if there's two game engines I love, they are Unreal and Havok. Second tick: it's largely minimalistic and there's no confusing clutter, either in the HUD or otherwise. In fact, there is almost no HUD - just the gun (when you get it) in the bottom-right, and a tiny reticule in the centre of the screen. Third tick: the puzzles are based on self-guided learning... though a small un-tick in that occasionally the puzzles stray a little into "Guide Dang It" territory. For the uninitiated, the puzzles are downright mean. For someone who has had zero sleep in the last 24 hours (namely, the first time I picked up this game), it's pure evil. Nevertheless, once the puzzles are done, the quotes are actually pretty cool - in fact, I'd call them Oblique Strategies for life itself.

Where to begin with everything else? The sound is very Zen (I'll make a good comparison with Osmos here), and unlike the rest of the game, rather relaxing. In saying that, though, I only need to hear the flapping of wings once to think either "Oshit, better slow down" or "Oh crap. Falling time" (it makes sense in context). Graphics: the game tends to stick mostly to a pallet of eight colours - RGB, CMY, B/W - so it's clear you're in a game, but the game does quite a substantial amount with such a pallet. Bugginess: pretty much none. There's nothing in the way of storyline, so here are my scores:

  • Graphics: 8/10 (elegant brilliance, really)
  • Sound: 8/10 (better for keeping me calm than a cup of herbal tea)
  • Plot/storyline: not relevant
  • Playability: 7/10 (rather easy to play, despite the killer puzzles)
  • Lastability: 5/10 (while interesting, going back for the easter eggs really isn't all that enticing)
  • Total: 28/40 = 7/10. A good and enjoyable game overall. If you didn't pick it up in the Humble Bundle, it's still worth buying standalone.

The world is full of secrets waiting to be uncovered.

An"ti*cham`ber, n. [Obs.]

See Antechamber.


© Webster 1913.

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