Antichamber Review


  • Developer: Alexander Bruce
  • Publisher: Demruth
  • Release Date: 1 Feb 2013
  • Time played: 3 hours (INCOMPLETE)

I managed to grab a copy of Antichamber from the Humble Eye Candy Weekly Bundle back in July which helped to increase my Steam backlog by another few games and incidentally increase my game reviews backlog by another few games too! Uhuhuhuhu! :'( . Anyway, I mainly got the bundle for the visual novel game Cinders but noticed there were a lot of critically acclaimed games in the pack as well including Antichamber. Antichamber describes itself as "a mind-bending psychological exploration game where nothing can be taken for granted" and the game contains "an Escher-like world where hallways wrap around each other, spaces reconfigure themselves" and "accomplishing the impossible" may be the only way to progress. Sounds intriguing doesn't it? The game also has managed to achieve a Metacritic rating of 82. So I was expecting great things from this game when I started playing - here's what I thought after playing it for three hours.

Gameplay (4/5)
Similar games to Antichamber would be games like Portal and Portal 2 as all of these games involve you solving puzzles from a first-person perspective and sometimes using a special gun of some description. In the Portal games, it was a gun to create portals (obviously) and in Antichamber, you get a gun that can take blocks and re-use them elsewhere (at least that's one of the first guns you get, more on that later). The game also reminds me of The Stanley Parable in that retracing your steps might actually end up changing the corridors and possible pathways available to you.

The unpredictable nature of the game and its puzzles is its greatest strength but also its greatest weakness. Those who are able to think outside the box, who are persistent and enjoy challenging puzzles will probably find nothing to fault in this game and will feel very proud of themselves as they complete its puzzles. For the rest of us though (including myself) we could feel cheated when the game doesn't play by its own rules or the fact you can get easily stuck because you're given the wrong tool for the wrong puzzle - and it never tells you that there are more tools out there. Sorry, that might have been a bit of a spoiler but trust me, to save you some frustration that knowledge is very important. I spent most of my time in this game on one puzzle because I believed all that time that the tool I had was the only one you got in the game - a bit like the portal gun in Portal. But remember, this is an "exploration game where nothing can be taken for granted" and that was my mistake, assuming there was only one tool available in this game. Those of you who read this and say "Wow, that's really clever" will probably love this game. Those who think it sounds frustrating or who don't have that much time to waste would respect what the game is trying to achieve yet hate it anyway.

Oh you may have also noticed I didn't include a Plot section for this review since as far as I can tell, Antichamber doesn't have one (unless this is revealed later). It does however have these little motivational posters with profound advice and sayings concerning life. What is pretty clever about them is that they often act as hints to the puzzle at hand too.

A bit like some of the game's puzzles

Sound (4/5)
The game has minimal sound effects, usually containing the calming sounds of nature such as waterfalls, birds tweeting, crickets chirping, etc.

Music (4/5)
While the game doesn't have any memorable music, Siddartha Barnhoorn has managed to create a very Zen-like, calm and contemplative atmosphere with the game's soundtrack.

Graphics (3/5)
Graphics aren't anything to write home about, adopting a black and white comic book feel to it with the occasional colourfully lit puzzle room. The Unreal Engine 3 was apparently used to develop the game.

Replay (1/5)
As you can see, I didn't finish this game. While the first two hours of puzzles were challenging, they were achievable with a little bit of thought. The game-breaker for me was the puzzle I mentioned earlier where I didn't have the right tool yet even though I wasn't given any indication there was another tool available in the game. I wasted about an hour on the puzzle before checking for a solution and if you need to check a solution for a puzzle game, it makes continuing to play the game less rewarding. Consequently, I /ragequitted. Maybe if I was younger and had been more persistent I could've made it through. Maybe I'm just getting too old for this shit ;).

Polish (5/5)
I didn't notice any serious bugs while playing this game which is refreshing to see in games nowadays. Funny how many indie games manage to get this part right but not the AAA titles.

Score – 7/10

For those who are looking for a challenging puzzle game that not only taxes the way you think about puzzles but the way you think about puzzle games you'll probably love Antichamber - unless the game manages to troll you really good by causing you to waste hours of your life on a puzzle with a simple solution or a trick answer. Then you'll probably wish you never bought the game. After something similar happened to me, I just didn't have the heart to keep playing. Those who are more persistent and have copious amounts of time might fare better.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam.

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[ LINK: Official Antichamber website]