It’s hard to describe a game like Antichamber. Not since Portal has a puzzle game melted my brain and challenged me to think about a world in a different way than this indie game by developer Alexander Bruce. In the world of Antichamber, nothing is as it seems. You explore an MC Escher style world where hallways wrap around each other, rooms warp and change as you move through them, and only by freeing your mind from how you expect physics and geometry to work can you start to understand the puzzles.
A 4d museum. Yup, It’s bigger on the inside
Yeah… that sounds hard you might be thinking. Yes, this game is difficult, but you aren’t ever punished for failure. Experimentation and creativity are encouraged. One plain white room I walked into had just a single black square on the ceiling in the center of the room. When I looked up it was a sign that said “DON’T LOOK DOWN”. So naturally, I immediately looked down. The floor was a trap that vanished when I looked at it and I plunged downwards into another puzzle room. There are no health meters, enemies, or death in the game. Just a labyrinth of tests to trick and subvert all of the natural habits and gamers have learned over the years about how games work.
Thankfully, by pressing escape at any time, you are returned to the main room which features the options menu, a fast travel map of the facility, and a collection of signs that you have seen so far. These signs are scattered across the world and offer cryptic clues to the solutions masquerading as twee bits of life advice. If you turn around and walk out of the trap floor room without looking down at the floor you will find yourself in a completely different hallway. The sign in the new hallway said this..
In addition to these brain twisting environments, as you move further into the world you gain access to different colored ‘guns’ which let you manipulate bricks found around the world to block doors, build bridges, and progress further into even more difficult puzzles.
Graphically, the game isn’t anything to write home about. Built on the Unreal Engine, the game looks decent but don’t be expecting mind blowing particle effects or lighting here. In fact, it’s mostly black and white color palette is only interrupted by bursts of vibrant color to give you clues and help your orient yourself. As far as story goes, there isn’t really one to speak of. Perhaps its an allegory about something like perseverance and the journey of life.. or maybe it’s about why you shouldn’t trust the Listerine strips from the bearded hippie at the music festival.
This game isn’t for everyone, but if you are looking for a game that will make you think and has enough non-Euclidian geometry to rival H.P. Lovecraft, then check this out. It also has that essential Portal level quality of making you feel like a genius when you make your way to the next room.. Keep an eye on the Steam Sale through Janurary 2nd to find deep discounts on this and other great games like Gone Home.