Here's a story we've all heard. An unknown indie developer makes a puzzle game with heart. Sometimes it's their final project to graduate, other times it's to keep them afloat as they try to make it big in the world of game developing. For Antichamber, it's the latter.An independently developed puzzle game from Alexander Bruce, Antichamber is his first big splash in the world of gaming. But what is it? On the outside, it looks like another generic puzzle game. But, as Antichamber quickly teaches, looks can be deceiving.
DAEDALUS SAYS HELLO
The Mind Games - Without spoiling anything, Antichamber is a puzzle game you won't want to miss. Easily on the same level as Portal and Braid, it quickly stole my attention in the first five minutes. It's a world of illusion, where nothing is the same, and many paths can lead to the same place, or where one path can lead to many places. It’s a world of madness, which can easily leave a player wondering how they got where they were, and where else they could have been.A Beautiful Splash of Colors - This game is beautiful in the oddest ways. In some instances, seeing a green block in an otherwise completely white room adds the beauty of focus to a situation. In other rooms, your mind is being warped as you enter a gallery of optical illusions that are proudly shown before you. Anti-Chamber is a game that knows how to extract beauty from almost anything, and can make even a boring hallway an exciting adventure.
Sounds Good in Unique Ways - Antichamber doesn't have the grand soundtrack that can be found in some other indie title nor does it have a whole lot of sound effects. The sound clips and music it does have, however, are used to the fullest extent. Going into certain areas and being forced to listen to the sounds of crickets chirping to find the right way is one example of how sound is used in this game. It’s also used to confuse, or disorient, the player and the smallest sound clips can easily throw a gamer's mind in the hellish labyrinth.
Sane Controls - Probably the only normal aspect of the game are the controls. There are some minor platforming complaints in the game, but it holds up for the most part. The very simple controls are something a player will become thankful for later in the story as game becomes more complicated. The very vanilla control scheme can sometimes become the only solid and comfortable reality players will receive in Antichamber, and it contrasts well against everything else offered to the player.
I Love to Explore - Antichamber is fun in the most unheard of ways. It is fun to explore the world you're in. In fact, sometimes exploring for fun is the only way to make progress. It's a world that changes every time you turn around, and it's damn fun to be in.
SCREW THIS, I'M GOING TO GO TRIP ON SOME ACID
It's a Bit Short - At its core, Antchamber is around 3-4 hours for puzzle game veterans. I can see the game taking some people 6-10 hours to complete, but at the end of the day, it's a short game. It doesn't overstay its welcome, but it definitely leaves the player wanting more. The $20 price tag also doesn’t seem to justify the price of the game, regardless of how beautiful it is.
Take a Break Every Hour - You know those silly warnings in instruction manuals (well if the game has one), “Play only an hour at a time or you might turn into a brain eating zombie?” Yeah, you should probably listen to them. It was about two hours into my first session that I realized I was getting a killer headache from playing. Antichamber is awesome, but all the illusions and mind bending can be a bit problematic. Maybe I'm a wimp, but I don't think I'm the only person who will have a headache from playing this game.
I Wanna Go Home Now - There's a very thin line between “Holy crap, being lost in this maze is awesome” and “Oh great, I wound up here again,” and Antichamber sometimes crosses it. Being lost in a labyrinth is both the game's greatest asset, and its biggest fault. It is quite frustrating at times when you're staring at a map and trying to figure out what you're doing wrong. These moments are generally brief though, and can often be used to fuel a desire to keep pressing forward.
I like Antichamber. It's one of those games where you can't really compare anything to it because of how unique it is. Alexander Bruce has obviously put a lot of effort into the title, and in the end has made an amazing game. Every inch of it is filled with creative genius, and any hardcore puzzle fan owes it to themselves to play it when it comes out. Even if it causes the occasional headache or becomes insanely frustrating, it's a fun game from start to finish that I recommend to almost everybody.
*This review was based on the PC version of the game with a review code provided by the developer.*