Release Date: 1/31/2013
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Have you ever wanted to play an MC Escher sketches? Echochrome may come to mind, but Antichamber feels like a mix of Portal, using cubes instead of portals, and Echochrome’s art style. There isn’t really a story here, you just wake up in a hub with four surrounding walls. One wall has your game options which you just interact with, one wall has the various clues you find throughout the game, and the third wall has your map where you can jump to levels you have discovered. All you really know is that you are chasing down a gray mysterious block and trying to escape.
These types of games are never touched by big publishers so it is up to indie developers to make them. Antichamber has a great block gun puzzle mechanic that really gets your gears turning. You eventually upgrade to a yellow and red gun, but the basic is blue. Once you learn how the antichamber works and how optical illusions can change the world around you, you get the gun. You walk around linear hallways trying to discover new areas. You may see a staircase leading up but it disappears and a straight hallway opens up. There may be an eye on a wall and if you stare at it long enough it will open up. Another illusion puzzle has you going up and down a shaft three different times, each time is different. These illusions are really unique and make Antichamber stand out from other first-person puzzle games like Portal.
The block puzzles consist of shapes on walls and you have to fill in these shapes in certain ways. Sometimes there is glass blocking certain areas so you need to drag them around instead. Lasers are a major part of the puzzles, some need to be blocked, some need to be activated. Figuring these puzzles out is hard because you also have to generate new blocks if there aren’t enough. Drag them around in the puzzle grid in a square shape to fill in the middle. The puzzles get harder and harder as you move along.
If you mess up you just press Esc to go back to the map room and start that room over again. I just wish the game had some more platforming rooms thrown in and wasn’t so puzzle heavy, even Portal made you jump around some. Antichamber uses doors as another puzzle element. You have to insert cubes into holes to open doors, but sometimes there aren’t enough cubes. Use one to hold the door open, go through it, grab the cube, and just piggyback a few cubes to gather what you need for the final puzzle. Antichamber really had me stuck most of the way because of how unique and different the puzzles were, there’s nothing else like it.
There also isn’t anything else like the visuals of this game. All white and bright primary colors. You feel like you are in one of MC Escher’s sketches. Nothing fancy here at all which is what made Echochrome so great as well. Due to this art style and the illusions the whole chamber can be very confusing to navigate. Pathways open up to nowhere, a pit may drop you into another part of the chamber which can be confusing. I even found the ending pointless, but the whole idea is to solve puzzles. If you don’t like puzzle solving stay away from this game.
Overall, Antichamber has a wonderful art style and puzzle solving elements that are like nothing else out there. This game is making a huge splash in the indie scene for a reason. If you love quirky puzzle games this is just for you.