Review: Antichamber

At a Glance

This game is recommended!
While there are many great games out there, this is one manages to be good fun and stay fairly true to Christian moral values.

If you're looking to add a new game to your collection, consider this one!

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Everyone
Genre: First Person Puzzler
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2013
Review Published On: June 17th, 2020
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

Any progress is automatically recorded as you progress from room to room. Additionally, once you've unlocked* a room on the map, you can return to it at any time.

Summary of
Major Issues:

The primary thing to worry about in Antichamber is the possibility of a headache, though I'm not entirely sure if they are caused by eye strain or the very unique gameplay.

Screenshots

[view screenshot]
A gallery of many things

[view screenshot]
The Blue Matter Gun

[view screenshot]
Schmuck bait



Game Overview

In this labyrinthine puzzle game, the player is dumped into a strange and confusing new environment. You're tasked with the supposedly simple goal of finding the exit. However, logic has no place here, and the game's world operates under very unique and often illogical rules. Hallways turn in on themselves, walls and floors disappear when approached, and sometimes when you turn around, whatever was behind you isn't there anymore.

As if the crazy geometry wasn't difficult to navigate enough, there will come a point where you collect colored "matter guns" that give you many ways to manipulate small cubes that are found during various puzzles. Your gun can suck them up into an internal chamber, and then place the cubes back into the world wherever you want. Some puzzles require you to place them in specific places or use them as platforms, but there are also special fields that destroy these blocks on contact. These fields will also empty your gun if you pass through them, rendering progress impossible until you reset the puzzle.

Thankfully, you can return to the entrance at any time by pressing ESC*. Although this is the room you start in, it's also a hub or home base for your exploration. In particular, there's a large interactive map of the game's layout on one wall that will be pivotal in help you navigate this world.

First and foremost, any rooms you've encountered are automatically added to the map. Antichamber generally avoids normal behavior, so this little concession is very welcome. Once you've explored some of the other rooms, the map will also show how the rooms are connected, though since the rooms don't always connect in a logical fashion, many of them have arrows pointing into the void instead of hallways. You can also trace your steps through the maze by looking for a gray line that goes through hallways and rooms. The start of the line, which is where you started last, is marked by a spinning X, and the room you were when in you returned to the entrance is marked with an O.

There is one more feature of the map worth mentioning. Aiming your cursor at a room shows a preview of what room it represents. This also works with the arrows, allowing you to see which rooms connect. Clicking on any of the rooms teleports you to the room you're looking at with all of its puzzles reset. This is definitely a useful feature, as it's incredibly easy to screw up many of the puzzles beyond repair.

The main downside to this headache inducing box of illogical nightmares is that once you've figured out the puzzles, there's not a whole lot of replayability. That said, if you're looking for a challenge, this game will definitely deliver. Just plan on taking frequent breaks to avoid getting a headache from all the weirdness.

Points of Interest

Collectible signs
As you wander about the complex, you'll often find signs sketched on black tiles. Clicking on them will reveal a message about the nearby puzzles (or some helpful affirmations), and add the sign to your collection. You'll find a gallery of the sign you've collected in the entrance room, across from the map. If you've found them all, the map will have no empty spaces.
Other hidden gems
Aside from the signs, there are several hidden pink blocks and some development rooms that can be found if you're very clever about it. On a different note, I usually leave a spot in the "Points of Interest" section of these reviews for talking about a game's achievements* (or equivalent), but this time, the only Steam-related collectibles* to be had are some Steam trading cards*.
Short for the price
This game retails for $20, which doesn't seem to justify its relatively short length. On average, people took roughly five hours to complete the game, though some took considerably longer on their first attempt. There is a timer in the entrance room that suggests the game can be completed in under two hours, though there aren't any reports of someone actually managing to blaze through the game that quickly.

Concerns and Issues

Headache inducing
I frequently joke about how games that test your brain can give you a headache, but this time it's not a joke. I'm not entirely sure what the cause is, either. The game's harsh color palette may be causing eye strain, or the illogical gameplay might be mentally taxing on its own. Regardless, I did end up with a number of headaches while playing this one through, so I'd seriously suggest you avoid long gaming sessions this time around.
Exactly one swear word
There is precisely one use of profanity in this game, and even then, it's part of an abbreviation rather than spelled out or spoken. One of the rooms has a series of blocks spelling out the letters "W T F ? ?" -- this is a popular abbreviation for the phrase "what the f*** ?"
A small note regarding "monsters"
There are a few places in this game that suggest monsters might be nearby. For example, you'll find some spooky creatures among the exhibits in a large gallery room or hear growling in a few hallways. But, despite these hints, there are no actual threats or enemies* in this game. This game is all about exploration and puzzle solving, not fighting.