Developer: Alexander Bruce
Platform: Microsoft Windows
Released: January 31, 2013
Overall score: 8.9/10
Recommended system requirements
CPU: Pentium 4 2.0GHz/ Athlon XP 2000+
Graphics: GeForce 8400 Series/ Radeon HD 4250, Direct X9
OS: Windows XP
Hard drive: 1GB (free)
Games in the market nowadays seem to be geared towards entertaining the player through various notions of empowerment, this by including action, adventure and the ability to interact in a virtual world with freedom. Yet very few games come out once in a while that stand apart from the crowd and try to make a statement with their unique gameplay, mechanics and overall presentation.
The recently-released Antichamber is one of those exceptional games that carry a brilliant layer of subtext to go with its impressive mechanics.
The game starts out with literally no story or character development whatsoever. All you find out is that you’re in a series of maze-like rooms and have to find your way out using the clues that are provided to you.
The premise may sound simple and even resembles the framework of the popular Portal games, but the execution comes off as highly original and smart. The environments that you navigate are all seemingly interconnected and rendered in a minimalistic art style.
It’s mostly just black, white and a handful of other colours. What sets the game apart from others however is the brilliant mix of puzzle-based gameplay and certain psychological elements you find on your journey.
Each puzzle often starts off with a small sketch on the wall which, when clicked, displays a cryptic message that relates to human psychology and the experiences of life. The direct correlation between the puzzles and messages makes for some very smart material that seems like it is trying to both entertain you and get a message across.
At any time, you can press the Escape key to go back into a hub room and select the individual puzzles you have encountered through a map on the wall. You also pick up devices reminiscent of a Portal gun that makes use of environmental objects to solve puzzles with.
There’s also the element of illusions within the game, as you’ll often walk around in one direction, only to turn around and find an entirely different path open up to you.
These sort of psychedelic puzzles come off as really clever, and you wouldn’t mind spending your time trying to complete all the challenges that come to you as you make progress.
The ambient music consists of light synthesised humming that really puts you in the mood. Even though it’s completely subtle, it speaks leaps and bounds about the overall feel of the game and the messages it is trying to get across.
In short, Antichamber is a delightful little adventure you may want to engage in if you’re a fan of puzzles and deep psychological elements.
Not only does it force you to think, but also feel and understand, all without a single line of dialogue. This gem of an indie title should definitely be considered for what it has to offer.