Antichamber Review: Lost in an Unreal World

It’s tough to talk too much about Antichamber without ruining any of it, which would be a mistake. It’s better for players to step into the world fresh and discover what’s required of them through trial and error or intuition. It’s true that the biggest obstacle you’ll ever face in the game is yourself, because breaking free of the rules you set on the game’s reality is the toughest part of any of the puzzles. That experience, of realizing what constraints to shed and which to apply, makes solving Antichamber’s puzzles often extremely satisfying. This is a game that will make you feel smart.

The trouble with Antichamber is in getting around the relatively huge facility in which it takes place. You’ll come to a number of junctions in which there will be puzzles you can’t solve, and many paths wrap back on themselves or on others. It’s really easy to get lost, or to find yourself redoing a puzzle you’ve already done, hoping to find some new area you haven’t explored yet. This is mitigated some by a fast travel and mapping mechanic available back at your starting chamber, but the fact is that, especially after quitting for a bit, it’s easy to forget where the hell you’re supposed to be or what you meant to do when you get there. If there’s anything about Antichamber that’s frustrating (besides the occasionally tough-to-execute puzzle that requires speed and aiming accuracy), it’s the inability to have a solid idea of where you’re going and where you mean to be.

But for an experience that will last you three or four hours, Antichamber is well worth trying. It’s the kind of game that reminds you what it is about games you like; the sort of empowerment fantasy that empowers you to learn and use your head, rather than just test the speed with which you can pound a button or line up a shot. Antichamber requires you to realign your thinking, and there’s little that’s more satisfying than breaking through the mental barrier you’ve erected for yourself to discover a solution.

Pros:

  • Brilliant use of perspective-shifting, reality defying puzzle physics
  • Some really great, challenging puzzles that rarely frustrate
  • Minimalist art style often manages to be beautiful
  • Some really smart, interesting mechanics
  • Slightly whimsical feel makes adventuring through Antichamber’s chambers an easygoing experience
  • Will make you feel smart

Cons:

  • Easy to get lost in and sometimes hard to navigate
  • You’ll run up against the same rooms repeatedly, only to have them make sense much, much later
  • Can be daunting when you’re not sure where to go or what the hell to do when you get there

Final Score: 90/100


Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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