Antichamber is a first-person puzzle game full of illogical paths between rooms and hallways that makes you feel like you're trapped in an M. C. Escher painting. Imagine walking out of your bedroom into a hallway, taking 3 steps and then realizing that you left your keys in your bedroom. When you turn around and open the door to your room, you find that your room has inexplicably been replaced by a completely different room. Concepts like this add an extra level of depth to many of the puzzles in Antichamber. While this may seem like a frustrating game mechanic, the developer of the game was kind enough to add a fast-travel feature into the map system that allows you to go back to any area that you have previously been.
While playing Antichamber, you may get stuck and/or frustrated. Take the creator of Antichamber, Alexander Bruce's advice and just take a break from the game. I'm so glad that I read this before I started playing; there were a few times that I felt a strong urge to browse the plethora of Antichamber videos on Youtube to find answers. But when the credits started rolling at the end of the game, I was sad that it was over, and I'm very glad that I did not succumb to these urges. One of the reasons I wanted to mention this is that reading past this point may rob you of the pleasure of discovering the many aspects of Antichamber. It's an amazing game full of problem solving and thought provoking narrative.
Shortly after solving the first puzzle, you will be presented with an inaccessible door labeled "The End". When I first saw this, I couldn't tell if it was the end of the first level of many levels to come, or if it was a trick. It's neither. It's a clever way of letting you know two things: The game is not linear and that you may not be able solve every puzzle the first time you encounter them. While the entirety of Antichamber is not huge, the illogical way you traverse through the game makes it somewhat hard to memorize where you've been and where you need to go next. But, there is a map, and it's quite handy once you fully understand it. There is no legend to the icons/animations on the map, so it does take a little playing around with.
Every puzzle game requires you to find and/or interact with objects(levers, keys, etc) to progress. It's no different in Antichamber. You start out empty handed and unable to interact with anything other than the randomly placed messages on the walls of rooms and hallways. Within a few minutes, you find the first gun that allows you to pick up blocks and move them around. This will allow you to solve most of the puzzles that you first come across. Moving little blue blocks around to solve puzzles may not sound fun, but I found it very enjoyable. After a while you will hit another roadblock and you will have to find your way to one of the other guns in Antichamber that allow you to manipulate the puzzle pieces. I don't want to spoil too much, so I'll let you discover the various guns and their mechanics on your own, as the game intends it to happen.
There's not really a story in Antichamber. There's no promise of cake when you finish and you're not trying to find a lost loved one or any type of treasure. There is however a most untraditional method that Antichamber uses to convey what most closely resembles a story in the game: While you explore Antichamber, you'll come across many black squares that have an image and a message. You could go through the entire game without reading a single one, but a lot of them are thought provoking and relate certain parts of the game with real life. Antichamber is a puzzle game and you have to think and use your problem solving skills to progress. Life is similar in a lot of ways; we encounter many problems every day without really even realizing it. I think the main message that Antichamber tries to tell it's inhabitants is that life is full of problems, but if you don't give up and put a decent amount of thought into it, you will be able to overcome any obstacle that comes your way.
The Antichamber soundtrack consists of some soft background music and what seem to be random animal & nature noises. But are they random? I thought about the noises for quite some time and the best explanation I could come up with is that it's an attempt to further tie Antichamber to real life. We can't relate to all of the white walls and illogical warping of objects and rooms to real life, but the sounds, crickets chirping, thunder pounding and wind blowing we can. So in essence, Antichamber is an abstraction of life and the problems we face.
I really enjoyed the cel-shaded graphics of Antichamber. While they may seem plain, they're also very clean and polished. Antichamber was created, for the most part, by a single person over the period of 6 years. While it may be that he lacked the skill or money to create a more colorful and lifelike game, I think there was a point to the way it was created. I'd like to think that anyway.
Every image that you come across gets printed onto a wall in the very first room/map room. When I look at my wall after beating the game, it's almost completely full. This leads me to believe that I have yet to explore all of Antichamber and it's puzzles.
There are quite a few people posting videos of their fastest runs through the game. Some of them are really impressive. If that's your thing, you will surely get many hours and replays out of Antichamber.
I beat the game in a little over 8 hours. I've managed to find more things to do after beating the game, and I'm sitting at 12 hours on my Steam library. I think that people smarter than I could complete it quite a bit faster, so I'm going to estimate that you will get anywhere between 6-10 hours to get to the end, and 5 hours or more to find all of the puzzles and rooms hidden in Antichamber. I bought the game for $19.99 on steam, and I'm very happy with my purchase. If you like puzzle games like Portal, Tiny & Big, etc, I'm sure you will like Antichamber as well.
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