A is for Antichamber

The genre of first person puzzle game was pretty much invented from whole cloth when Valve released Portal in 2007. Since then, there have been many games in a similar vein, exploring ways to bend the brains of players braving the challenge. Antichamber is a take on this genre where the ‘twist’ is that the environment you’re exploring can actually change around you based on your actions.

That description is actually a bit simplistic. The environment is more akin to an M. C. Escher drawing in three dimensions. Corridors that would impossibly loop back on each other in real space are integral to the puzzles in Antichamber. In one case, standing in a specific place and looking in a specific direction actually changes your location, which allows you to progress.

There were definitely aspects of this game that were very appealing to me. I enjoyed the non-linear, Escher-esque spatial reasoning required to solve some of the puzzles. On the other hand, there were more aspects of the game that I didn’t like. Many of the solutions were not very clear, even after I had found them. It was unclear why a particular solution worked when other actions that seemed like they should be valid didn’t. I got frustrated when my progress seemed more based on luck and wandering than on skill and deductive reasoning.

I have a couple of additional minor complaints that are probably specific to me. I did play this game using the ‘unofficial’ gamepad controls. I’d recommend avoiding them. Just use keyboard and mouse. Also, I did experience some motion sickness while playing this game, so if you’re prone to that, maybe steer clear.

Overall, I don’t think I can recommend Antichamber, definitely not at full price. If you can pick it up for a few bucks on sale, or as part of a bundle, give it a whirl and see if it’s your flavor of fun. See you next time!

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