Now this is a game I’ve been excited to play. I knew it was in the works 2 years ago, and was already biting at the bit. Something to compare to Portal, but with even less concern about physics instead focusing exclusively on the logic? Yes! Sign me up! The day the game came out, I bought it, but it would be a while till I could play since I was still in the middle of Xenoblade Chronicles. And now, after making my way through that massively long game, I cleared this one in literally about 5 hours…. So was it worth the wait? Well… yes… yes it was.
Story: To describe the story in AntiChamber is a huge challenge in it’s own right. The only things that are concrete are that you are on a journey and nothing need necessarily follow the common laws of physics… so, what kind of story goes with that? Cause I can’t think of one and this game will offer you none. If you can come up with one, please let me know.
Nothing here to really rate
Graphics: If any one word describes the graphics of this game, it’s minimalist. For the most part, there are no textures and very few bitmaps used in this game. But at the same time, this simplicity is used to damn near perfection. You will travel down hallways and through rooms that use the lack of detail to differentiate themselves in color, markings, or even to fake you out into believing a floor is where it isn’t adding more confusion and puzzle to a game already noted for screwing with you, even as you know that is what the game is designed to do.
The best way I can describe the look of the game is beautiful, simplistic, and deceptive to the very physics-bending nature of everything within it… but we will get to this when we reach gameplay.
Sound: Sadly, and perhaps by natural effect, the sounds in this game are very limited. There is no sound to go with your jumping. There are no enemies to make noises. And there is almost no music at all. Most of this game is played in either silence or with the ambient noise of nearby “stuff". The only real exceptions I could find are your own “cube gun” (along with the sound of cube manipulation by it), a possible bird I didn’t see but heard, and the “voices” of the black cube you come across at various points in the game. This last one is slightly creepy, as it’s clearly whispering something, but what, is anyone’s guess.
The overall effect of this is a game world with little distraction. But It’s also now a game you could just about play without the speakers on and not realize it.
Gameplay: And this is where Antichamber REALLY shines. Antichamber is a 1st person puzzle in just about every sense of the word. The game explains nothing, expecting you to have the brains to figure it all out. When the game starts, there is no title screen. The closest you have is a splash-screen as the game loads declaring the title. Instead, you find yourself in a black room with a white grid on all surfaces, and facing a wall with a sketch of a baby in the womb. With it is simple text explaining that all journeys begin somewhere. Looking around will show you a second wall with resolutions settings you can pick by clicking as well as the controls and a timer. A third wall reveals a map with exactly one spot on it and the 4th is a glass window showing you an exit you can not reach. You now have your goal, have learned how to play, and have a cryptic starting point. The mood is set, so it’s time to click the one room in the map available.
And with that you are now launched into the labyrinth where logic is all and physics only matter to the rules of that room. Every place you go will have at least one puzzle for you to solve (and sometimes find), as well as signs made in the same sketching as that original picture. Clicking on them will reveal a phrase explaining the lesson of the puzzle to take home and move on, making everything you do a chance to learn a new skill and take you that much further to complete the game.
And as you move through rooms, you will find yourself coming back to old ones, both in old and new ways, but the game is a little forgiving here. If you come back, chances are an arrow will be drawn somewhere in the room to help you see where to go next rather then repeat a loop of puzzles needlessly. You are expected to figure it out, but the game wont leave you without clues. I wish I could go on or even give you some examples, but discovery of the rules, the lessons, and what other things the game will show you are too much of the experience to say much more without giving it away.
Bugs: People have complained about this game not loading up properly, but I did not have this issue myself. However, should you have this issue, there is a fix. This game runs heavily on NVidia’s Physx engine, so a lot of AMD graphic card users did have an issue with it. The solution is easy, however…. installing the Physx software from NVidia’s website will enable it’s use, even on AMD cards (since it can run through the CPU if your graphic card doesn’t have the feature).
Final Score: Antichamber is a rare example of an amazing puzzle game that relies on literally nothing but absolutely genius puzzles and the gameplay they offer. Most puzzle games, even the Portal series, make it on just as much personality and style as they do the actual gameplay. Antichamber is just that last part distilled. Would I call it a better game for it? Not really… but then there is plenty of room to be a good or even great game without outdoing Portal. And AntiChamber is just that… a great game. If you like puzzle games, you really should give it a try.